My teaching approach
method is a way of teaching. It's a
system of practices and procedures that a teacher uses to teach. It's based on
our approach, on what we believe about: what language is, how people learn, and
how teaching helps people learn.
teachers base their lessons on a mixture of methods, to meet the different
needs of learners and the different aims of lesson or courses, depending as
well on the age and the experiences of the students, on course objectives and
purpose of learning a language usually is to enable to take part in exchanges
of information: talink with friends, reading instructions on a packet of food,
understanding directions, writing a cv, a letter etc.
the language teaching works on two fronts: one is the language system, or what
we 'know' (phonology, lexis, grammar, function and discourse) and, second, what
we 'do' with language, that it can be called language skills. There are four
important macro language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Speaking and writing are called 'productive',
while listening and reading are considered 'receptive'. Contemporary teachers
today put more emphasis on listening and speaking, this because in everyday
life we do use much more these skills rather than reading and writing).
it has not always been like that: traditional teaching methods had emphasised
the learning of language system as a goal in its own right not giving to the
learners the chances to do realistic experiences with the knowledge gained.
the twentieth century, the approaches were based mainly around oral language
practice through repetition and drills.
the 1960s, lots of course were mainly based on grammatical syllabuses, but only
in the late 1970s and 1980s they started to use a functional syllabus, grouping
languages by the purpose for which it could be used: e.g. language of greeting
or requesting or apologizing.
The study of modern
languages did not become part of the curriculum of European schools until the
18th century. Based on the purely academic study of Latin, students of modern
languages did much of the same exercises, studying grammatical rules and
translating abstract sentences. Oral work was minimal, and students were
instead required to memorize grammatical rules and apply these to decode
written texts in the target language. This method became known as the 'Grammar – Translation method'.
Classes were conducted in
the native language. A chapter in a distinctive textbook of this method would
begin with a massive bilingual vocabulary. Grammar points would come directly
from the texts and be presented contextually in the textbook, to be explained
elaborately by the instructor. Tedious translation and grammar drills would be
used to exercise without much attention to content. Sentences would be
deconstructed and translated. Eventually, entire texts would be translated from
the target language into the native language. Very little attention was placed
on pronunciation or any communicative aspects of the language. The skill
exercised was reading, and then only in the context of translation.
advantages of this method are 2:
1. The phraseology of the
target language is quickly explained. Further, learners acquire some sort of
accuracy in understanding synonyms in the source language and the target
2. Teacher’s work is saved.
Since the textbooks are taught through the medium of the mother tongue, the
teacher may ask comprehension questions on the text taught in the mother
tongue. Even teachers who are not fluent in English can teach English through
this method. That is perhaps the reason why this method has been practiced so
widely and has survived so long.
Along with its
advantages, the grammar translation method comes with many disadvantages.
1. It is an unnatural
2. Speech is neglected. The
Grammar Translation Method lays emphasis on reading and writing. It neglects
speech. Thus, the students who are taught English through this method fail to
express themselves adequately in spoken English.
3. Exact translation is not
4. It does not give
practice. A person can learn a language only when he internalizes its patterns
to the extent that they form his habit. But the Grammar Translation Method does
not provide any such practice to the learner of a language. It rather attempts
to teach language through rules and not by use. Researchers in linguistics have
proved that to speak any language, whether native or foreign, entirely by rule
is quite impossible. Language learning means acquiring certain skills, which
can be learned through practice and not by just memorizing rules. The persons
who have learned a foreign or second language through this method find it
difficult to give up the habit of first thinking in their mother tongue and
then translating their ideas into the second language. They, therefore, fail to
get proficiency in the second language approximating that in the first
If the Grammar –
Translation Method is an early method based on the assumptions that language is
primarily graphic, and that the process of second language learning must be
deductive, requires effort, and must be carried out with constant reference to
the learner's native language, the' Audiolingual Approach', which was
very popular from the 1940s through the 1960s, is based in structural linguistics
(structuralism) and behavioristic psychology (Skinner's behaviorism). It places
heavy emphasis on spoken rather than written language, and on the grammar of
particular languages. Rote memorization, role playing and structure drilling
are the predominant activities.
By the middle of the 20th
century cognitive psychologists like Vygotsky and Piaget bring up theories that
help to explain the limited effectiveness of the traditional prescriptive and
mechanistic approaches to language teaching. These theories serve as a basis
for the new Natural - Communicative Approaches.
Beginning in the 1950s,
Noam Chomsky and his followers challenged previous assumptions about language
structure and language learning, taking the position that language is creative
(not memorized), This "Chomskian revolution" initially gave rise to
eclecticism in teaching, but it has more recently led to two main branches of
teaching approaches: the humanistic approaches based on the charismatic
teaching of one person, and content-based communicative approaches, which try
to incorporate what has been learned in recent years about the need for active
learner participation, about appropriate language input, and about
communication as a human activity. Most recently, there has been also a significant
shift toward greater attention to reading and writing as a complement of
listening and speaking, based on a new awareness of significant differences
between spoken and written languages, and on the notion that dealing with
language involves an interaction between the text on the one hand, and the
culturally-based world knowledge and experientially-based learning of the
receiver on the other.
One of the interactive
method is called Communicative Language
Teaching (CLT): an approach that emphasizes interaction as both the means
and the ultimate goal of learning a language. It is also referred to as
“communicative approach to the teaching of foreign languages” or simply the
CLT is usually
characterized as a broad approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method
with a clearly defined set of classroom practices. As such, it is most often
defined as a list of general principles or features.
One of the most
recognized of these lists is David Nunan’s (1991) five features of CLT:
1. An emphasis on learning
to communicate through interaction in the target language.
2. The introduction of
authentic texts into the learning situation.
3. The provision of
opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the Learning Management process.
4. The learner’s own
personal experiences is an important contributing elements to classroom
5. An attempt to link
classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom.
These five features are
claimed by practitioners of CLT to show that they are very interested in the
needs and desires of their learners as well as the connection between the
language as it is taught in their class and as it used outside the classroom.
Under these definitions, any teaching practice that helps students develop
their communicative competence in an authentic context
is deemed an acceptable and beneficial form of instruction. Thus, in the
classroom CLT often takes the form of pair and group work requiring negotiation
and cooperation between learners, fluency-based activities that encourage
learners to develop their confidence, role-plays in which students practise and
develop language functions, as well as the use of grammar and pronunciation
Often, the communicative
approach is deemed a success if the teacher understands the student. But, if
the teacher is from the same region as the student, the teacher will understand
errors resulting from an influence from their first language. Native speakers
of the target language may still have difficulty understanding them.
(TBLL), focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do
meaningful tasks using the target language. Such tasks can include visiting a
doctor, conducting an interview, or calling customer service for help.
In the pre-task, the
teacher will present what will be expected of the students in the task phase.
Additionally, the teacher may prime the students with key vocabulary or
grammatical constructs, although, in "pure" task-based learning
lessons, these will be presented as suggestions and the students would be encouraged
to use what they are comfortable with in order to complete the task. The
instructor may also present a model of the task by either doing it themselves
or by presenting picture, audio, or video demonstrating the task.
During the task phase,
the students perform the task, typically in small groups, although this is
dependent on the type of activity. And unless the teacher plays a particular
role in the task, then the teacher's role is typically limited to one of an
observer or counselor—thus the reason for it being a more student-centered
Task-based learning is
advantageous to the student because it is more student-centered, allows for
more meaningful communication, and often provides for practical
extra-linguistic skill building. Although the teacher may present language in
the pre-task, the students are ultimately free to use what grammar constructs
and vocabulary they want. This allows them to use all the language they know
and are learning, rather than just the 'target language' of the lesson. Furthermore, as the tasks are likely to be
familiar to the students (eg: visiting the doctor), students are more likely to
be engaged, which may further motivate them in their language learning.
While task-based language
learning is increasingly promoted world-wide and has the advantages described
above, there is the risk that students will stay within the narrow confines of
familiar words and forms, just "getting by", so as to avoid the extra
effort that accompany stretching to use new words and forms. As with all group
work, in group tasks, some students can "hide" and rely on others to
do the bulk of the work and learning. A second challenge is that the new
learning elicited by the task-based lesson--one of its benefits--may yet be
lost if the lesson did not include sufficient planning for, or runs out of time
for, that new learning to be captured and reinforced while it is still fresh. A
third challenge, one applying to many otherwise valuable language teaching
methods, is the difficulty of implementing task-based teaching where classes
are large and space limited and/or inflexible.
Other methods I didn't
analyse but I want to mention are: 'Total Phisycal Response', the 'Silent Way',
the 'Person – Centred Approaches', the 'Lexical Approaches' and the 'Dogme',
and, of course, the 'Oxbridge' method, that it seems to be the most complete
ones: meanings are more important than forms and grammar is about 'analysing',
teachers change every 3 weeks and the target language is an essential part of
and topic are the 3 main activities in the lesson plan where the student is
stimulated to communicate, without books, blackboard. The teacher is more a
'guide', a coach of a team. Here the emphasis it's not teaching, but language
acquisition. There is a Low teaching talk time (TTT) and high STT – student
talk time. Here making mistakes are just a natural process of a language
'Learning Teaching – The
essential Guide to English Language Teaching', Jim Scrivener