My teaching approach
and contrast different teaching methods and approaches by considering their
effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson.
approach, when teaching English as a foreign language, is only put into
practise when the learner is given the opportunity to use that language through
interactive communication with a purpose.
In the same way native speakers communicate in every day scenarios, this approach is only effective when the activities
for the learner encourage, engage and activate the use of language in
contextual and realistic situations that are useful and up-to-date.
According to Krashen’s acquisition of
learning hypothesis “language acquisition
is the product of a subconscious process very similar to the process children
undergo when they acquire their first language. It requires meaningful
interaction in the target language - natural communication - in which speakers
are concentrated not in the form of their utterances, but in the communicative
requires meaningful interactions in the target language - natural communication
- in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but
with the messages they are conveying and understanding." Stephen Krashen
think that most people are either being forced to study, or are giving up their
own precious time for learning English, it is even more important to provide
learners with necessary and relevant activities that will prove useful in
everyday life. Equally important, in a communicative lesson, is low TTT and
high STT, so students gain as much as possible from the lesson. The more a
lesson is based on the output, the more the learner will be able to practise
and gain constructive feedback. An
effective communicative lesson will be set up so the teacher models the
language, engages the learner, checks that they have an understanding of what
is being asked of them and is able to move into the activate part of the lesson
as quickly as possible. The main objective of the activate part of the lesson
is to encourage students to use the target language introduced to them in a
free and inventive way.
the communicative approach is a widely recognised and practised one, it is
still not universally used. In more traditional methods of teaching,
communication is not always central to the objectives of the learner, nor do
these methods necessarily take into account the individual’s needs.
Grammar Translation Method (GTM)
As one of the oldest methods of
teaching, the GTM is probably the most conflicting with the communicative
approach. Language is taught through translation methods, with an emphasis on
correctness in reading and writing. The method also focuses on contrasting and
comparing the speakers’ native tongue to the learned language. GTM focuses on
sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary and direct translations of the native
language to English. The teacher relies on textbooks and translated passages.
As the emphasis is not on speaking but translations the learners are not able
to practise using the language in a realistic, purposeful and communicative
Whilst this means there is
minimal stress on the teacher owing to the heavy use of textbooks, it also
means very little output from the students themselves, and virtually no
interaction between learners. This
method places the teacher as the
authoritarian figure, dictating entirely the structure of the lesson,
restricting any free or inventive use of the language. Communication is not the
Direct Method (otherwise known as Berlitz Method)
Opposing GTM, the Direct Method focuses
on the target language and uses no translation methods. Similar to the Oxbridge
system, the DM approaches learning in a contextual and communicative manner, helping
learners understand the meaning of language with emphasis on function rather
than form. The teacher demonstrates the language and models it for the students,
encouraging high amounts of STT, allowing them to use what they have been
taught in an interactive and contextual way. Visual stimuli and gesticulation
are incorporated in this style of teaching, reinforcing meaning in a more fun
and engaging way, further assisting in communicative learning.
Another similarity to the Oxbridge
approach is the way that pronunciation receives attention at the beginning of
the lesson. This helps prevent learners fossilising errors, and provides them
with a sense of confidence to later use the language themselves.
Whilst this method of teaching creates
a communicative lesson approach for the reasons previously explained (use of
target language, emphasis on speaking and less on writing and spelling) the teacher
is still the dictator of the lesson and the approach can sometimes seem slightly
aggressive, with the use of repetition and drill like bahaviour
Lingual Method (ALM)
Audio-Lingual Method, or the Army Method, is a style of teaching based on the behaviourist
theory that people can be trained through a system of reinforcement. The
teacher therefore places a strong emphasis on accuracy and correction, working
from the viewpoint that continual repetition of errors leads to the fixed
acquisition of incorrect structures and non-standard pronunciation. Drilling,
repetition, and habit-formation are central elements of this approach to
teacher provides students with a set of stock scenarios (for example, language
to use in a shop), with the intention of the learner reproducing exactly what
they have learnt, deviating only marginally from the structure by exchanging
specific vocabulary eg. ‘Can I buy some shoes?’ becomes ‘Can I buy some bread?’
with everything else remaining the same.
learning set phrases, learners know where to use these phrases, and may even be
able to swap the vocabulary, but this method of language acquisition is a very
restricted one. They are not taught enough to know how to conjugate the words
in order to use the language in other ways, and do not necessarily learn language
beyond the sequenced scenarios they have been made to repeat to explicit
accuracy. As Stephen Krashen argues, "Language
acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and
does not require tedious drill."
The Silent Way
Way method encourages the learners to dictate the structure of the lesson,
whilst the teacher observes in complete silence. If effective, the lesson will
be highly interactive with emphasis placed on group cooperation, the students
are encouraged to help each other through correction and response. There is no
criticism or praise, but instead the learners are encouraged to be self-reliant
and play the role of the narrator. The teacher will use gestures to encourage a
this method allows high STT, the complete absence of TTT and the extreme levels
of student output means there is no communication between the teacher and
would also be a lack of natural rhythm in the lesson when there may be long
silences when a student may struggle to answer or use the language correctly.
This style of lesson would not be engaging for all the learners and would not
work in larger groups as one person could end up talking for the whole time
before another person had the confidence to interrupt and have a go.
is important for learners to be self reliant and encouraged to find the answers
themselves there has to be the right balance between student output and teacher
Learning a language should be about
trial and error which is why practise through high interaction and
communication is so important. Language is about meaning and through practise
we can express meaning in a purposeful way.
It is true
that to retain information you need to be exposed to a degree of repetition
however if you are not learning the language in context then it is almost useless
as you will not be able to reproduce the language in the right situation in
an effective communication lesson the teacher must approach the lesson in a
dynamic and engaging way. The classroom environment can help to create a creative
and engaging space where both the teacher and the learner feel at ease but
still focused on learning. Visual stimuli are always effective as support to
the written or verbal explanations.
There needs to be the right balance between
the input from the teacher and the output from the learner. The teacher should
model the language, provide examples and then allow the majority of the time to
be dictated by the learner.