Maha Sweiss

My teaching approach

Teaching English as a second language


“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” 
William Arthur Ward


I truly believe in this proverb, and every time I acknowledge it I remember how teachers should be to their students; inspiring, motivating and exciting. This is what I saw in Oxbridge while attending the courses this month, and in this essay I will be clarifying the process of a superior teacher’s methodologies and objectives.

I want to start with some fun facts to make it easier for all to acquire the English Language.

Exciting facts for students about English Language:

-       English alphabets are much simpler than the alphabets of most languages.

-       Only 26 letters are used in the English language.

-       All letters are used in a simple form and no combined letters.

-       There is no difference between spoken and written English, which makes it easier to learn.

-       There are more English speakers in China and India than UK and USA!


Ø  ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE ESL: Planning our strategic approach!

Why do we teach English language course? (Objectives)

Who to teach English Language for? (Assessment & Evaluation)

How to teach English Language? (Methodology - skills and acquiring the language)

What to teach in an English course? (Substance and Material)


These questions summarize the entire process of teaching English as a second language. The following essay will answer in details all of the above, in presenting the practice of teaching this communicative art.

We begin with what we want to achieve from this route of teaching. Primarily, our objective, and this comes in two directions; the general objective of the comprehensive course and the detailed objectives of each lesson that we want to acquire.

General objective is what we want to achieve at the end of the course, for example; Oxbridge listed down an “end of the course” objectives for students that should be met in order to accomplish the maximum development which Oxbridge defined for. This would be given in the first class when introducing each other.

The detailed sub-objectives will be included in each class; what is our aim in this class? What do we want the students to come up with after the end of the class?

These objectives are very tricky and hard to work on to reach the best results. It takes creative materials and methodologies - which we will talk about later on in this essay- to verify the language “art” in students.

One thing that should be complimented is the way Oxbridge TEFL uses its own module in their most modern approaches and objectives of teaching, and I think it should be acknowledged globally.


Secondly, we want to know who are we teaching, and by that I mean the level of each group, how much do they know in regards to the language. This is a very sensitive issue in order to customize our material and interpersonal skills.

These assessments can be completed in different ways, such as exams, interviews and surveys. This should be studied carefully in accordance with the creation of our material and prepare our self to meet our exact objective for a specific group (depending on levels). Assessment of course comes in line with our objective.

English Programme   Objectives ---- Align objective with English ---- Use results for language development --- Collect assessments of English learners.


Thirdly, comes the most fun part for me; the different methodologies utilized when teaching English language. Let us start here with the syllabus that we have to use and the structure of which we should implement.

An outline and summary of topics to be covered in an education or training course is significant. It is descriptive and makes sure the objectives and the means of obtaining them are clear.

I strongly agree with the Oxbridge expression: “Preparation Preparation Preparation”. We have to have a well-prepared class if we have a well-structured course syllabus that defines goals and objectives, content and distribution of the content with concrete dates.

A syllabus is a very important part of our planned strategy. It establishes what objectives we state for students to acquire at a certain stage in the learning process (level) through the distribution of the different categories (vocabulary, structures, topics).

When we know the goals per level after assessing them, the content distribution should be creative per session, along with defining period of timing and dates.

A syllabus differs according to the use of different types of courses. For example:

·       General English courses

·       English for Specific Purpose (ESP) courses (Business English, Medical English, Legal English, etc.)

·       Intensive English courses (concentrates more sessions in a period of time)

·       English courses for particular ages (Kids & Teens)

·       Courses for specific categories only (Vocabulary, Grammar, etc.

To start planning for the session, we need to take into consideration the following:

-       A lesson plan should include aims, assumptions, anticipated problems, stages, procedure, stage aims. (Communicative approach)

-       A well-studied incorporation of vocabulary, topic and structures activities according to each level with a correct pace and timing.

-       Contain an engaging subject, proportional and realistic target language, guided steps for its practice, visuals aids to stimulate and motivate the student, all the necessary information for the teacher and a logical conclusion with error analysis. (Oxbridge model).






Ø  Another important module is:



(Of new learning items in context)



(Of the new items in formal exercises)



(In role play, simulations, discussion)


I think that each session has to include one or more activities from one of the three main categories:

·       Structures

·       Vocabulary

·       Topics

This mix of activities assures a higher hit rate with students, which I totally agree with according to Oxbridge practice.

Topic activities should include creative and controversial subjects for students to talk and engage with, and this of course comes in line with their level of language proficiency.

It is important to not limit topic activities solely to activities developing speaking skills. As the structure and the vocab ones, topic activities are performed orally, but they develop different skills directly and indirectly according to the level.

Grammar or structure activities, in my opinion, should get the most creative art of all, because of its rigid presentation. We should always find new means for interesting approaches to present this activity in an easy, fun and exciting method.

Vocabulary should be done through different types of games for students. We can think about a lot of ideas to memorize vocabularies, and this should be done by brainstorming and coming up with diverse activities. They go from items related to the immediate surrounding for beginners (the house, the world of work, travels, hobbies, family, etc.) to the widest diversification in terms of terminology of particular professions, phrasal verbs, idioms, proverbs and lesser-known sayings for higher levels. The higher the level the more the vocabulary for each semantic field is broadened.

“Oral activities directly develop listening and understanding skills (speaking is a consequence of a stimulus, often an auditory one). In lower levels, indirectly they develop writing and reading skills, as some of the activities include them in some of their phases”.

Wrap ups – the word itself gives a relief meaning when hearing or seeing it!

That practice gives the students a feeling of a closure and they can leave the class with a clear idea of what they’ve learnt and practiced in class.


Important considerations within the class:

Ø  Timing is crucial, both for one particular activity and for the whole class.

Ø  Staging of activities, sequence and how to link activities.

Ø  Anticipating problems and the correct reactions.


Ø  Creative examples:

Vocabulary Lists with Games and Puzzles

Crossword Puzzles

Matching Quizzes

Pronunciation group games

Daily Listen & Repeat - Updated Every Day

Quizzes Based On VOA's Special English Programs

Matching Quizzes

Listen & Read Along

Fun stories, facts and news.

Tongue twisting

To me I would breakdown the class to activities and try as much as I can to produce my personal skills and touch to let them learn as much as they can in a very interactive and fun way.


Ø  Personal and teaching skills:

According to me, this part presents 80% of the class. This includes:

Personality – communication, presentation, patience, listening and attitude skills.

Punctuality – having the responsibility and determination for it.

Preparation- always doing your homework which shows importance and empathy in what you do.

The connection between the student and the teacher is very important; positive and empathetic approaches are much needed to produce and receive better, and to know how to anticipate errors and problems and correct them in a very professional way.

Also, the teacher has to develop special language skills as to know how to talk to beginners, mediator or advanced students. This is taken for granted sometimes, but when I started the course at Oxbridge I realized how phonetically and linguistically these elements are crucial in the class. Again, this can’t be done with negative and passive attitude within the class, the student might reject the teacher just because of this outlook and direct approach.

Factors to be considered:



Applied linguistics

Authentic language

Body language



Communication strategies

Input and output (productive-receptive skills)

Teacher talk


Learning styles and strategies

Culture competence



The last stage would be evaluating the classroom or the student, and this happens through examining them of what they have understood, what they have received from all of what has been produced and how they accumulated the information. This is important, why? Because we should know the stage of their development, we have to measure the progress and competency and prepare for the next step or phase of proficiency.

Evaluation criteria also reflects what the teacher was preparing and transmitting during classes the whole time.

In summary, language teaching is very crucial, yet fun to teach and learn. It is considered a rewarding experience that should be taken broadly throughout the world. If I had responsibility for formulating a methodology and syllabus for the teaching of the English language, my criteria will incorporate the following:

- Lesson planning that includes different methodologies; virtual, audio and interactive activities.

- Oral communication is emphasized – listening, speaking, discussing and debating.

- The flow and energy of the class, along with the pace of producing and receiving.

- Authentic materials for both comprehension and cultural context.

- Student interaction is very much encouraged.

- Games and role-plays; a playful atmosphere is encouraged to minimize anxiety.

- The appearance of the materials also plays an important role among the affective factors in English learning.

- The seating arrangement of the class would be a very important affective factor in the learning too. As a teacher I would like to have eye contact at all times with my students in order to offer a cheerful environment.

- I think the classroom environment is very important which includes the area, colors of the room, tranquil and encouraging zone to work with.

Thank You




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