My teaching approach
There are a lot of opinions and different ideas about how to teach. Teachings methods are changing through the years,and from time to time there is a new system that seems to work better. The truth is that a lot of factors are involved in the teaching methods; The teacher, the student, the circumstances, the environment etc. It depends of many things, that's why theories and methods vary all times. Every body is looking for something spectacular to achieve the best ever know system of teaching.
I think the most important is the willingness to accept that learning another language involves hard work.
The good teacher, being aware of this facts, will look for different technics to make the learning process easier for his learner. Education is a goal from the very start. That means to look for some skills in our students and show them to develop certain qualities as: Words clearly Spoken, Correct pronunciation, Fluent Delivery, Appropriate Pausing, Proper Sense Stress, Suitable Volume, Modulation, Visual Contact, Naturalness, Choice of words, Extemporaneous Delivery, Conversational Manner, Accuracy of statement, Understandable to Others etc.
Of course the teacher should develop other skillful qualities as: Principal Ideas Emphasized, Enthusiasm, Gestures and Facial Expressions, Good Personal Appearance, Use of an Outline, Logical Development of Material, Voice Quality, Interest Shown in the learners, Express with conviction, Tactful yet Firm (specially with Teenagers), up-building and Positive, Repetition and more Repetition, Interest-Arousing Introduction, Effective conclusion, Effective Use of Questions, Effective Use of Visual Aids, Accurately Timed;Properly Proportioned etc
All these qualities should be developed along with the learning of the language,(grammar, vocabulary etc) and should be graded as the learning process. For example; Taking a class of beginners we will teach basic Vocabulary with a simple Structure along with Correct Pronunciation. We will never teach Fluent delivery or Extemporaneous Delivery in the very fist class. Qualities or skillful manners should be graded as other factor of learning process, but skillful qualities are needed to be presented in the learning process from the very first beginning.
In my opinion The Classes outline should include at least one of these qualities. For example: LEVEL: 5 TOPIC SKILL: Visual Contact, Naturalness.
To develop such qualities in the language cultural barriers needs to be overcome, to build a common ground between teacher and student. At these point I'm go to develop each quality one by one:
QUALITIES OF COMMUNICATION.
Words Clearly Spoken
It is important because when you enunciate carefully, others can understand what you say. Words that are clearly spoken are likely to be taken properly. How to do it? Speak words clearly...whith proper enunciation, sufficient volume, and at a reasonable pace. Do not slur expressions or run words together in such a way as to make the meaning uncertain to the hearers. Hold the head up, and open your mouth sufficient when you speak. Practice relaxing your neck, jaw, lips, facial muscles, and throat muscles.
To say individual words correctly. This involves (1) using the right sounds to vocalize words, (2) stressing the right syllable(s) and, (3) in many languages, giving proper attention to diacritics. How to improve pronunciation: Learn to make good use of a dictionary. Ask someone who reads well to listen to you and offer counsel. Take note of pronunciation used by good speakers; compare your own with theirs.
Speak in such manner that your words and thoughts flow smoothly. When delivery is fluent, speech is not jerky or painfully slow, and there is no stumbling over words or groping for thoughts. How to achieve it? Mark new words, find out exactly what they mean and then use them. In daily conversation, learn to think first and then to say complete sentences without stopping.
By animated delivery, give evidence of your strong feeling about the value of what you are saying. Enthusiasm on your part will help to hold the interest of your students.
Look at those to whom you are speaking, allowing your eyes to meet for a few seconds. See individuals, not merely a group. Be natural and friendly, and genuinely interested in those to whom you speak.
Use of Outline
Speak from an outline, either mental or written, instead of using a word-for-word manuscript for delivery. Impress on your mind the benefits of using an outline; your confidence is much better. Make your outline simple, easy to read at a glance. Prepare for delivery by reviewing ideas, not by memorizing words.
Accuracy of Statement
Accuracy in what you say reflects your professionally and the system with which you are working in. How to do it? Resist pressure to give an answer when you are unsure. Do research on your subject. Check the accuracy of statistics, quotes, and experiences . Avoid guessing at details that you do not clear remember.
Understandable to others
Express yourself so that others can really grasp the meaning of what you are saying. The easier your material is to understand, the more fully the learners will benefit from it. How to do it? Use plain language; use short sentences for principal ideas. Emphasize just a few main points.
Effective Use of Questions
Use questions to get an oral response; it may be to stimulate a mental response. What you ask and how you ask have a direct response to your students and a direct bearing on your success in the use of questions.
Effective Use of Visual Aids
Use pictures, maps, charts, or other objects to make important points of instruction more vivid. It is important because a visual aid often makes a clearer or more lasting impression on the mind than does the spoken word. Effective visual aids should highlight or clarify things that deserve special emphasis( new vocabulary, structure etc). Should have the teaching process as their primary objective. Should be clearly visible to the entire class if used on the table.
Accurately Timed, Properly Proportioned
The class should be done within the arranged time, and use appropriate portions of the time for each part of the class. Sufficient time needs to be allotted to each of the main points of instruction. It is important to end the class on time. How to do it? PREPARE WELL. I think the secret is to prepare well and far enough in advance.
Well, I think a teacher should review his skills and qualities and transmit all his knowledge to the students. But to be a good teacher means to love teaching. The method is important but to me the best one is the following:
The communicative approach but including all the qualities that I just mentioned. This qualities or skills of communication should be included in the classes as other part of the learning process as grammar, vocabulary etc. Along with all the process to learn a language is the process of saving barriers. Skills or qualities are very connected with feelings. To arrive to our students it is necessary to arrive to their hearts. Once you do that you can do whatever you want. Motivated students are successful students, are the ones who make progress. So let's develop in our students THE DESIRE to do it!
Now I would like to review some teachings methods as:
-Total Physical Response(TPR).Developed by James Asher.
-The Silent Way.(SW)
Are others methods as Community Language Learning, Suggestopedia, Whole language, Multiple Intelligences, Neurolinguistic Programming, The Lexical Approach or Competency-Based Language Teaching. But I would like to concentrate in TPR, SW, and Community Language Learning(CLL).
. Total Physical Response (TPR) Developed by James Asher, TPR is a language learning method based on the coordination of speech and action. It is linked to the trace theory of memory, which holds that the more often or intensively a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory will be. There are six principles Asher elaborates: Second language learning is parallel to first language learning and should reflect the same naturalistic processes Listening should develop before speaking Children respond physically to spoken language, and adult learners learn better if they do that too Once listening comprehension has been developed, speech develops naturally and effortlessly out of it. Adults should use right-brain motor activities, while the left hemisphere watches and learns Delaying speech reduces stress. Some of the objectives of Total Physical Response are: Teaching oral proficiency at a beginning level Using comprehension as a means to speaking Using action-based drills in the imperative form TPR uses a sentence-based grammatical syllabus. TPR main learning techniques and activities are based on situations where a command is given in the imperative and the students obey the command.
. The Silent Way Caleb Gattegno founded "The Silent Way" as a method for language learning in the early 70s, sharing sharing many of the same essential principles as the cognitive code and making good use of the theories underlying Discovery Learning. Some of his basic theories were: "teaching should be subordinated to learning" and "the teacher works with the student; the student works on the language". The most prominent characteristic of the method was that the teacher typically stayed "silent" most of the time, as part of his/her role as facilitator and stimulator, and thus the method's popular name. Language learning is usually seen as a problem solving activity to be engaged in by the students both independently and as a group, and the teacher needs to stay "out of the way" in the process as much as possible. The Silent Way is also well-known for its common use of small colored rods of varying length ( Cuisinere rods ) and color-coded word charts depicting pronunciation values, vocabulary and grammatical paradigms. Typical Techniques (1) Sound-Color Chart - ( Trefers students to a color-coded wall chart depicting individual sounds in the target language - students use this to point out and build words with correct pronunciation) (2) Teacher's Silence (T is generally silent, only giving help when it is absolutely necessary) (3) Peer Correction (Ss are encouraged to help each other in a cooperative and not competitive spirit)
. Community Language Learning In the early seventies, Charles Curran developed a new education model he called "Counseling-Learning". This was essentially an example of an innovative model that primarily considered "affective" factors as paramount in the learning process. Learners were to be considered not as a "class", but as a "group", Curran's philosophy dictated that students were to be thought of as "clients" - their needs being addressed by a "counselor" in the form of the teacher. The CLL method Principles: To encourage the students to take increasingly more responsibility for their own learning, and to "learn about their learning", so to speak. Learning in a nondefensive manner is considered to be very important, with teacher and student regarding each other as a "whole person" where intellect and ability are not separated from feelings. The initial struggles with learning the new language are addressed by creating an environment of mutual support, trust and understanding between both "learner-clients" and the "teacher-counselor.” The Community Language Learning method involves some of the following features: (1) Students are to be considered as "learner-clients" and the teacher as a "teacher-counselor". (2) A relationship of mutual trust and support is considered essential to the learning process. (3) Students are permitted to use their native language, and are provided with translations from the teacher which they then attempt to apply. (4) Grammar and vocabulary are taught inductively. (5) "Chunks" of target language produced by the students are recorded and later listened to - they are also transcribed with native language equivalents to become texts the students work with. (6) Students apply the target language independently and without translation when they feel inclined/ confident enough to do so. (7) Students are encouraged to express not only how they feel about the language, but how they feel about the learning process, to which the teacher expresses empathy and understanding. (8) A variety of activities can be included (for example, focusing on a particular grammar or pronunciation point, or creating new sentences based on the recordings/transcripts). Typical Techniques (1) Tape Recording Student Conversation (Ss choose what they want to say, and their target language production is recorded for later listening/dissemination) (2) Transcription (T produces a transcription of the tape-recorded conversation with translations in the mother language - this is then used for follow up activities or analysis) (3) Reflection on Experience (T takes time during or after various activities to allow students to express how they feel about the language and the learning experience, and T indicates empathy/understanding) (4) Reflective Listening (Students listen to their own voices on the tape in a relaxed and reflective environment ) (5) Human Computer (T is a "human computer" for the students to control - T stating anything in the target language the student wants to practice, giving them the opportunity to self correct) (6) Small Group Tasks (Ss work in small groups to create new sentences using the transcript, afterwards sharing them with the rest of the class).
. Suggestopedia In the late 70s, a Bulgarian psychologist by the name of Georgi Lozanov introduced the contention that students naturally set up psychological barriers to learning - based on fears that they will be unable to perform and are limited in terms of their ability to learn. Based on psychological research on extrasensory perception, Lozanov began to develop a language learning method that focused on "desuggestion" of the limitations learners think they have, and providing the sort of relaxed state of mind that would facilitate the retention of material to its maximum potential. This method became known as "Suggestopedia" - the name reflecting the application of the power of "suggestion" to the field of pedagogy. Main Objective To tap into more of students' mental potential to learn, in order to accelerate the process by which they learn to understand and use the target language for communication. The four factors considered essential in this process: The provision of a relaxed and comfortable learning environment. 2. The use of soft Baroque music to help increase alpha brain waves and decrease blood pressure and heart rate. 3. “Desuggestion" in terms of the psychological barriers learners place on their own learning potential, and 4. “Suggestibility" through the encouragement of learners assuming "child-like" and/or new roles and names in the target language.
Here are some of the key features of Suggestopedia: (1) Learning is facilitated in an environment that is as comfortable as possible, featuring soft cushioned seating and dim lighting . (2) "Peripheral" learning is encouraged through the presence in the learning environment of posters and decorations featuring the target language and various grammatical information. (3) The teacher assumes a role of complete authority and control in the classroom. (4) Self-perceived and psychological barriers to learners' potential to learn are "desuggested". (5) Students are encouraged to be child-like, take "mental trips with the teacher" and assume new roles and names in the target language in order to become more "suggestible". (6) Baroque music is played softly in the background to increase mental relaxation and potential to take in and retain new material during the lesson. (7) Students work from lengthy dialogs in the target language, with an accompanying translation into the students' native language. (8) Errors are tolerated, the emphasis being on content and not structure. Grammar and vocabulary are presented and given treatment from the teacher, but not dwelt on. (9) Homework is limited to students re-reading the dialog they are studying - once before they go to sleep at night and once in the morning before they get up. (10) Music, drama and "the Arts" are integrated into the learning process as often as possible.
I'm agree with the theory of memory, which holds that the more often a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory will be. Memory is a good tool that a teacher must use. We can do this by repetition. I think the Silent Way(SW) method is good specially for beginners or low levels. When levels are higher the relationship between teacher-student must vary. Topics discussions become more and more important so is not the point to continue with SW. I I like the relationship of mutual trust and support as essential part of the learning process, but this aspect of the teacher-student relation should exists always and in whatever methodology. I'm agree with the Suggestopedia method that learners naturally set up psychological barriers to learning. Fear is one of the most powerfully barriers. It's important the provision of a relaxed and comfortable learning environment. Music is a very good method to impress in the brain new vocabulary. But I think all this methods are OK for low levels or beginners. As students are progressing they need more complicated grammar. The key is the balance between theory and practice. For me the communicative approach system is great but introducing in it the qualities of communication in each Activities as I described at the beginning of the Essay. .