My teaching approach
The Prosser Immersion Method
meaningful universe in which each human being exists is not a universal
reality, but ‘a category of reality’ consisting of selectively organised
features considered significant by the society in which he lives.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones having acquired
three different languages, from a very early age with very little effort.
My family moved from England to Catalonia when I was 18
months old. When I was two years old, before I started to speak ,read or write
in any language I had three
communicative environments : Catalan at nursery, Spanish with certain friends
and English at home ,I obviously had
some interference from language to language but later in life i was able to
DID I HAVE A MOTHER
That is not an easy question to answer as my daily life from
an early age was in three different communicative environments, virtually split
I only realised how fortunate I was when I was in my twenties ,I honestly can say that learning how to speak,
read and write in these three languages involved very little effort from my part
,and I think the reason is that I was
fully immersed in one language at one given time.
I have included this small personal introduction to
reinforce the importance of being fully immersed in language learning, and to
present the Prosser immersion method.
I believe that the Direct or natural method was a huge leap
in language teaching; it seriously questioned the effectiveness of the
traditional method or grammar translation method. The Direct method refrains learner’s
native language and teaches grammar by using an induction approach by having
learners find out rules through the presentation of adequate linguistic forms
in the target language. This method was probably one of the first to realize
the importance of being immersed in foreign language learning.
The Prosser immersion method is a method that shares a lot
of points with the Communicative and Oxbridge methods as it also reinforces the
importance of executing all lessons in the target language. PIM places
importance on receptive and productive skills of the English language, although
a communicative model is to be adopted in class. The Prosser immersion method
is only taught in the language which the learners are attempting to acquire,
not in their native language and use of second language translation is not
tolerated in the classroom.
The idea of this method is to fully immerse the learner in
an English environment not only in language but also in socio-cultural manner.
I’m a strong believer that ‘Englishness’ could be taught with many tools like
comedy for instance. English comedy is recognized globally very often
translated into different languages ,sometimes the comic factor is actually
lost through translation ,and I think the reason is that English comedy very
often relies on the play of words which need a socio-cultural knowledge to
THE PIM APPROACH
A teaching approach refers to the ways by which people
acquire their knowledge of languages. It searches for the best conditions for
language learning. The PIM approach focuses on speaking and listening
activities, but will develop the four fundamental skills required to have the
ability to use a language with accuracy and fluency, so it would also include
reading and writing activities.
Receptive skills and productive skills are developed at different learning stages.
In the lowest levels where students don’t have any knowledge of the L2,
listening and speaking are given more attention, and reading and writing come
activities will be used to activate the students’ language. Different types of
activities can be used ,they could be authentic texts for the learning situation,
the learners’ own experiences, role plays ,discussions, debates etc…The
important factor is that they are fluency based activities that encourage the
learners to develop their confidence, always remembering to execute them
in L2 to further develop the receptive
and productive skills.
the type of language used by learners who are not yet proficient in their L2. Learners
go through three stages: language transfer which is when learners fall back on
their mother tongue to help their language system; overgeneralization which is
when learners use rules from the second language in a way that native speakers
would not; and simplification which is when learners use a highly simplified
form of language.
Knowing the culture
and the language of the students is important in the PIM, as it will help
foresee such developmental patterns which will in turn help class management
for the teacher.
attitude to the learning process has also been identified as being critically
important to second language acquisition. PIM promotes L2 immersion in class
and the last thing we want is for a student to be anxious as this would be
detrimental to successful learning.
are very important in the learning process at any age, it is crucial to create
a good rapport between teacher and the students, and that can be created by
learning in a fun relaxed atmosphere. Classes are held in an enthusiastic
manner and the teacher will treat students as friends.
time in the Prosser immersion method is
reduced to a bare minimum therefore student talking time is increased .The
teacher will never patronise or punish the students’ as this conduct belongs to
the past. It is much more effective to praise and encourage the students if
they’ve accomplished a task.
Because the Prosser immersion method promotes full immersion
we prefer to talk about acquiring a language rather than studying or learning
I believe that by
creating an environment in which students are immersed in English, and only
allowed to express themselves in English in an engaging atmosphere, the chances
of language transfer occurring in the minds of the students is reduced, thus
reducing the possibility of interlanguage errors occurring.
immersion method syllabus has been created with one question in mind ‘how do
people acquire a language?’
In each syllabus
classes will develop the target language skills of the students progressively
through a series of levels:
intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced.
The teacher will
have a one to one talk with new students to determine the most fitting level to
PIM classes are
divided into four kinds of activities: grammar, vocabulary, topic based and a
socio-cultural based activity, all taught in a communicative way.
Grammar activities build accuracy in students’
communicative skills. It is not just words what students are learning when
acquiring a second language, they need dressing up in structures to give them a
practical effect when communicating .Grammar activities are not taught with
technical explanations, this could be very boring for the students, and in turn
they are taught in context.
activities supply the learners with new lexicon in English; they provide all
the necessary new words and expressions that allow the learners to broaden
their communicative competence.
Topic activities or
activities for fluency encourage students to express their opinion and talk
about facts. They are the perfect excuse for the students to express their
thoughts in a non-guided way. Topics could be found in newspapers, magazines,
These three activities are shared with the
Oxbridge method, and I have decided to include the socio-cultural activity
because I believe that socio-cultural knowledge is very important in language
activities are mainly free listening and understanding activities created for
students to be aware of the social and cultural elements of the English
speaking world, they will present issues like the diverse British and American accents,
British and American comedy or even Cockney rhyming slang which I think is a
great way to learn vocabulary, and many others. The objective of these
activities is for the student to listen and understand and to get to know the
English speaking world a bit better.
In beginner and
elementary levels, we only use grammar and vocabulary activities .We will start
to introduce topic activities from the intermediate level upwards and we will
reserve the socio-cultural activities for the advanced level.
All activities are
prepared with clear objectives and goals that engage and are fitting to the
students’ needs. In these activities we will use material like authentic texts,
realia, cartoon clips for children, comedy programs, documentaries, songs,
games etc. We have to keep in mind that we want total language immersion in the
classroom. All video material is edited to fit the clear objectives of the activity.
We do use white boards when required as some learners prefer to visualize
So to conclude, PIM
fits into the category of modern teaching methods, placing attention on the four
main skills with emphasis on listening and speaking skills. It’s an evolution
of the Direct, Communicative and Oxbridge models of English teaching but with
that added socio-cultural factor that tries to immerse the student into the
English world. The Prosser immersion method attempts to update the content
based learning method to motivate students to learn English in a communicative
and engaging manner.