My teaching approach
In this essay I intend to present a method of
teaching English that I feel is the most beneficial to its students and to its
teachers. For this I have researched several different existing teaching methodologies
as part of my TEFL course, the method of teaching I am about to present to you
is the result of this research.
and Learning Goals
As indicated in the table above, listening and
speaking are the two most important skills that this method intends to develop.
Reading and writing are of secondary importance within this framework of
teaching, this is done under the general assumption that one who can speak will
also be able to write or read, or at the very least be able to understand
written text and able to produce structurally sound texts .
The purpose of language leaning within this
framework is first and foremost communication. By communication the writer
refers to the ability to speak and listen, or in other words hold a
conversation in L2. To achieve this, the students need to be able to think in
L2, for this reason L2 is the only vehicular language in the classroom, with no
referencing or anchoring being made to the students’ mother tongue.
Pronunciation is taught from the beginning and oral skills are fundamental.
Furthermore a substantial amount of vocabulary will be part of the teaching
framework, vocabulary is favored over grammar structures, however grammar
structures are not completely irrelevant, the writer will elaborate on this
later in this text.
One might see similarities between the “Direct
Method (Berlitz)” and the goals of the method presented in this text, for good
reason, as large parts of the Direct Method are part of the writer method as
well. There are differences however. The
Direct Method gives equal attention to all four skills related to language
learning; Listening, speaking, reading and writing. Whereas the “no name”
method, which is what the writer decided to name his method just now, gives
attention primarily to Speaking and Listening. The no name method believes that
by giving more attention to these skills its students will pick up the L2
faster than they would when attention would be split equally between all four
skills. Hence the balance between receptive and productive skills is more or
less equal within the no name method. This is especially the case when it comes
to the Listening and Speaking skills, and to a lesser extent the case between
the Reading and Writing Skills.
The most significant difference between the no
name and direct method is the approach to teaching grammar. Whereas the direct
method intends to do this inductively through introducing functions and never
explicitly mentioning rules or structures, the no name method goes one step
further. As with the direct method, the first introduction to any grammar
structure or rule will be inductive as well within the no name method, however,
the no name method allows for moments of reflection within its curriculum where
a deductive approach to teaching grammar will be used. More details of how this
will be done can be found later in this text, in the lesson plan section. The
basic idea is that at the end of every class, a predetermined amount of time
will be taken to reflect on some of the more complex structures of grammar that
would have been introduced to the students earlier in the same class
inductively. This style of teaching combines the benefits of introducing
grammar inductively with that of doing it deductively. We seek to create a so
called “Magic Moment” for students, this is a moment at which students having
studied a couple of new functions earlier in the class finally get to see some
rules linked to that function. After
having given their brains a substantial amount of time to try to comprehend the
structures inductively, and having thus gotten them to the right state of mind,
we introduce the actual rules of the functions dealt with in class. This is the
moment where their minds go “click”, a moment in which all comes together.
Of course, these reflective moments need not be
taken every class because not all functions are as complicated and require a
deductive way of explaining. For that reason it is down to the teachers
professional judgment as to whether a moment as such is taken at all, taken for
certain functions, or taken for all functions.
The syllabus is based upon context related
structures and vocabulary. This means that students will learn according to
certain situations they might find themselves in and the appropriate vocabulary
and structures that are relevant to that situation. In many ways it is very
similar to a syllabus as used by the direct method, in that structures and
vocabulary introduced through certain contexts or situations. However as
explained earlier, the no name method has a deductive part similar to that of
the GTR method, and for this reason each section of the syllabus will also
contain a section with grammatical points explicitly taught to be used at the
The following is an illustration of what an
average class is to look like within the No Name method.
Issue: Expressing future actions – Objective
To teach present continuous for future actions
Quick round of warm up questions to get the
students warmed up for English, a method similar as used by Oxbridge
Introduction to topic/structure. Teacher will
enter into a dialog with various students using the present continuous and
encouraging them to use the same from.
Activity 1: Students are invited to look at a
set of pictures and are summoned to ask each other questions regarding these
pictures in the present continuous form.
Activity 2: A writing exercise in which
students are asked to write down what they will be doing after class using
the present continuous form
Reflection point: Teacher will start
explaining the present continuous form deductively, clearly stating the rules
of this form. While also checking for understanding.
Review of class, teacher questions the
students understanding by using wrap up questions
and Student Roles
The teacher directs the class and need be is the initiator of
communication. Ideally the teacher only functions as a facilitator.
Student-to-student communication is cherished and of importance in the learning
process. The Teacher is also the primary assessor of language used by students
whereas the peers act as a secondary assessor. When, however, the teacher
decides to take a moment of reflection for some deductive teaching, it is
expected from the teacher to be more of a model and maintain a healthy level of
authority as well; this is to ensure that the message comes across clearly. One
could call this style of teaching a largely Berlitz type of teaching with a
hint of GTR teacher roles. The teacher in general is to have a motivating
attitude towards the students, praises are part of the classroom and a relaxed
and easy going way of correction is maintained at all time.
Teachers are expected to create their own materials for the different
classes that they teach, with the syllabus serving as a guideline for the
different topics. No textbooks will be used. As the classes are mostly context
based, such as “we are at the bank” or “we are doing grocery shopping”, there a
several possibilities for introducing such context. As students have different
preferences as to how they learn a language, for instance some students need
more visual stimuli whereas others thrive on audio; the no name method intends
to incorporate as many different ways of introducing context as possible within
its structure. The basic guideline is to
at least use to different formers of introducing context in every class. This
may be a video, a text, an audio tape or any other viable channel available to
the teachers. Having introduced the context the teacher will intend to teach
through dialog. Only exemption being the reflection moments where the deductive
approach is used, within these moments the transaction of information flows
more from teacher to students instead of a dialog.
As there may be affective factors that limit or block a students
learning process, it is of great importance to analyze these factors as
thorough as any one teacher can. Within the framework of the no name method,
teachers are instructed to have a round of questions when they start teaching a
class for the first time. Guidelines as to what type of questions to ask will
be incorporated within the syllabus, however, however for the most part it will
come down to the teachers ability and experience. Once affective factors are
identified, teachers have enough freedom in the sources they may use to
anticipate these affective factors.
Learning outcomes are to be monitored by teachers at all times. Teacher
are to rely on their experience in assessing whether or not a student is up to
par with what he or she is supposed to know. This is largely an informal
process, giving teachers substantial responsibilities.
Next to this there will also be a formal assessment structure in place.
These are moments within the curriculum a regular class will be substituted by
a so called “review” class. In these classes, which take place at the end of
every level, students will be tested for their knowledge of the English
language through small exams and teacher dialog.
When teaching complete beginners teachers are allowed to deviate
slightly from the framework of this method. Key areas in which teachers will
get more freedom are; referring back to mother tongue and the freedom to omit
grammar reflection points. Teachers are allowed to reinforce the students
understanding by using mother tongue vocabulary whenever absolutely necessary.
Furthermore they are allowed to omit any grammar reflection point if they feel
like it will confuse the beginners.
If students of the course are younger than 13 years old the lesson plan
is to be adjusted to them. More activities will be done where each takes a
shorter amount of time instead of the two larger activities. This is to keep
the students interested and anticipate their shorter attention span.
Furthermore interactive material is to be incorporated in class, relying more
on audio-visual material than written material.
I believe my method is fairly consistent with what I have learned so far
at Oxbridge. The method’s main aim is to get students to communicate, in which
speaking and listening are very important factors. It is teaching a language
through using it. This is the method that most contemporary language institutes
including Oxbridge use.