My teaching approach
This approach aims to get students learning how to form, speak and pronounce full, well structured English sentences, starting with the simplest grammatical structure, leading on to the creation of even the most complex. Students must learn how to break down these structures in order to know how to build them up again, and in this way they can see and fully understand the basic building blocks of the language.
Building a house however, is a completely different thing to living in it aims to teach the importance of decent pronunciation, tonality, expression and emphasis in order to gain the ability of using the language in practical conditions. After all, what is a language if it is not understood? We do not want to risk demeaning the use the language all together.
It aims to het students understanding the language from big pragmatic picture down to the tiniest phoneme, whist keeping in mind everything else in the middle, of course. The approach also aims to always provide a relaxed learning environment unlike many conventional institutions still clinging to the last threads of Victorian teaching values.
The approach aims at the practical use of the language and the skills needed are those of a communicative nature. Speaking and listening make up the main pillars of my approach and, with the grammatical arch joining the two, stand as the gateway to understanding the language. Reading and writing are skills which will make up the path beyond the pillars, but it is a path that the students can walk down during his or her own time; this journey will however be deeply encouraged as the world beyond becomes infinitely more interesting thereafter.
The methodology I would like to mirror (amongst others) is that of the late Michel Thomas, a man who's life was as exhilarating as the method he created and possibly the main reasons I became so interested in teaching English as a foreign language in the first place.
Like Michel I believe that the verbs make up the heart of the language. Whereas I would like to name the verb, ¨The Centre Stone¨ of the arch that joins the two pillars. (See image beneath).
P.O.S = parts of speech
In reality verbs are actions and states that we can mostly relate to, and to understand them all with their many meanings, tenses and varying forms and to understand them is to effectively sharpen the focus over the picture of what is happening in other peoples worlds; whether referring to an action in the past, present, future, past perfect or continuous they all in someway express something we can all feel or do at some point in time. The approach will hold on to this relationship between our many states and actions with a tight grip because is unique, and means that we can express ourselves and be understood easily if we know how to use their various functions to their full potential.
Around this verbal ¨Centre Stone¨ lie the other parts of speech made up of the articles, nouns, prepositions on the Left hand stones and adjectives and conjunctions on the right. The order of these stones can be changed accordingly in order to show the emphasis on communication whether active, passive, interrogative, suggestive, advising or persuading. Confidence is a major key to speaking the language comfortably and for the reason the approach lends its last two modules to pronunciation and acting with words. Essentially the methodology encompasses the idea of breaking a language down into simple, digestible pieces and learning how to build it up again using comprehensible explanations.
- Level A: Structure/Dialog based - Vital verbs, pronouns, simple clauses, present, past and future simple, prepositions, adverbs of time and place, common and proper nouns and simple adjectives. Not so much emphasis on pronunciation. (ESA)
- Level B: Structure/Lexical/Dialog based: Irregular verbs, modal verbs, all continuous tenses and perfect tenses, voice, transitivity, Basic sentence structure and pragmatics. Greater emphasis on pronunciation. (ESA)
- Level C: Structure/Lexical/Dialog based: Irregular verbs, modal verbs, all continuous tenses and perfect tenses, voice, transitivity, advanced sentence structure and advanced pragmatics. Strong emphasis on pronunciation. (ESA)
- Level D: Pronunciation based: Intense Callan method activities mainly focusing on pronunciation to iron our any bad habits students may have because of inter-language interference, misinterpretation or mal-education in general.
- Level E: Situation based: Acting course designed to give the confidence back to the student alter level D, focusing mainly on Word stress and the power of the voice. (ESA)
Red dots represent the end of each level in the following order from left to right: A)B)C)D)E).
Green line represents students’ confidence as it intensifies the confidence drops but is soon bolstered higher than ever before.
The syllabus begins focusing on the three most important aspects in speaking and understanding of English language; grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Primary focus is on the grammar and vocabulary used in the day to day habits, stories, reports, etc and built up gradually over the first three levels A, B and C. The levels increase in intensity as more aspects of the English language are thrown in. Once the students have gained full comprehension of the structures and are able to speak comprehensively, an intensive course of pronunciation based activities starts, this part of the course is based on, ¨The Callan method¨. Having done this the student is enrolled in highly student-active exercises whereby they are encouraged to ACT whilst using the English language. Here they are given an even greater understanding of the language. Here students will have the opportunity to learn how the body language mixes with the language itself and fully. They will see the languages strengths, weaknesses, stresses and all round flow. This way the students habitual errors are broken down and we are able to build them back to full confidence, replacing the errors with correct English. This part of the course focuses largely on muscle memory as a learning aid and is loosely based on the ¨Suggestopedia method¨. The over-all approach is all dialog-based and constantly keeps in mind the two pillars and the archway between them.
THE TEACHERS APPROACH
For levels A) B) and C) teachers should operate in a manner which makes the learning process greatly enjoyable, utterly painless and highly productive for all students. It is the teacher responsibilities to get students fully understanding the main building blocks of the language so that they are able to communicate freely and fluidly by the end of level C).
It is the teachers duty during levels A) B) and C) to make sure that students in class:
- Never write notes.
- Never be asked to do homework
- Never feel stressed
- Always maintain verbal communication
- Always understand the relation between the action and the verb.
- Always get the best support possible
Teacher are encouraged to teach using personality and are welcome to bring their own style of teaching but must also be able to show the following:
- Good class direction
- Good use of humor
- Good use of examples
- Good use of meaning full memory association
- Good knowledge of English grammar
- Acting ability
- Effective task distribution
- Good understanding of all 5 linguistic branches
- Ability to teach all ages and levels and know how to grade language according to student ability.
The approach attempts to capitalize on progress by giving positive feedback where possible, increasing the students confidence levels. Teachers are expected to correct where necessary, picking up in on specifics closer to the end of level C and intensifying significantly over level D. Needless to say all teachers are expected to be well presented, well prepared and well familiarized with the content used throughout the course.
ESA plays a crucial role in the approach and will be implemented through levels A,B,C and E through the use authentic material in the form of our very own, easy-to-follow in-house magazine full of screen play edits and quirky scenarios set on current affairs and other such fascinating topics. The content magazine not only holds the relevant play/film scripts on hand but will also have in depth articles about the films and plays themselves, and will be referred to throughout the course. With this magazine also comes a DVD holding the real versions of the plays and films (with English subtitles) divided carefully into the relevant stages of the course; extra tutorials based on pronunciation and links to more online content can be found here also.
The same can be said for children's content magazines and DVD, which follow similar lines in terms of structure, but differs in content. Her you will find cartoon screenplays, children stories, pictures, puzzles, competitions and a whole host of entertaining games as well!
*All content is carefully designed for each level and are thoughtfully tailored towards each age bracket (age 5-7, age 7-10, age 11-14, age 14-17, age 18 upwards)
This approach brings together some of the most forward thinking methods of modern language teaching, merging some of the most important aspects in each to create an active, engaging, confidence building experience which will leave the student with all the necessaries to succeed using English in the outside world. By pinpointing the most important factors from each techniques and presenting them in our own unique way, we are able not only to inspire students but inspire teachers also, giving them all the ability to climb higher in their own knowledge if the English language.