My teaching approach
Essay: my teaching approach
To begin with, I think the most important thing before we start teaching a group (or a single student), is really having to know what the level or general knowledge of the group is, and how proficient they are at various skills. Furthermore, knowing well their age, context, interests, needs, and goals will help us adapt the syllabus, activities and type of materials we will be teaching. Depending on the atmosphere or type of student I would use a simple “conversation test” and / or quiz to collect all the answers needed. (diagnostic test?)
The main objective is to enable them to express their ideas, feelings and needs, as well as provide them with the necessary skills to simply communicate properly in English.
The main skills I would develop are: first of all understanding (listening comprehension) and speaking (producing their language). I think it’s important to start from repetition and “mimic” methods (for low levels) and move on to proactivity and corrections as the student is acquiring the language. I believe it is also important for them to learn how to express themselves through writing (above all in business context) so that they can identify what they hear by reading (?) and communicate by writing when needed. They will be learning it unconsciously through listening and speaking, and at advanced levels it can be mastered.
The main language areas I would put the stress on would be a balanced mixture of vocabulary and grammar so that they can understand and use the language with its different functions, as well as know how to express the ideas they want to communicate using the proper words (and avoid the “I’m blocked” feeling).
In order to achieve that my syllabus would mainly consist of situation and theme-based activities, so that learning how to use the language depending on the context, situation or need is achieved. Providing real-life context is the best way to make the students feel confident and proficient enough to communicate in whatever the situation they are dealing with might be. Of course, dialogue would be mandatory, as speaking and listening are the main areas we would be working on to build and improve their linguistic skills.
Depending on the level of students it might be necessary to grade the language used and also to adapt the amount and type of activities done. For example, in a pre-intermediate level (approximately P2) I would put the stress on grammar and vocabulary, so that the students can embrace how to use the basic language structures and words depending on the context, and have the ability to express themselves correctly (no matter how simple a way it might be). As soon as some basic structures have been acquired I would introduce some topics so that fluency and confidence when communicating can be gained.
Students are the protagonists. So, as a teacher I think my role should be one of a guide and a role player. In my opinion the best way for a teacher to act is as a model to be imitated by the students and learned from, but also as a tutor who they can trust, play with, talk to and share. Meanwhile, the student is supposed to be a communicator, a participative and active person willing to improve and learn (allowing mistakes to occur so that the goals can be achieved).
To increase students´ confidence and a positive attitude, as well as push them to try to do their best, I would propose to praise them as much as we can, but without exaggerating too much or abusing this teaching tool, as we would appear to be pretending. On the other hand, we can not forget about acting as correctors, so that they can detect the typical mistakes they make and correct themselves. Therefore, in this sense, it is important to correct them above all on those mistakes that they are not supposed to make (!:) (namely those that we would have devoted time to) and also on those language areas we believe they can easily follow and where there is a lot of room for improvement.
The inspiration and materials I would use would be based on other teachers` experiences and on what would feel like the right topic to bring into that particular class, judging on the students´ interests and competence. I would thus try to adapt a wide range of authentic materials such as current news, films, books, and any other fields the students may have an interest in, so that the activities are closer to their ideas and needs. These ideas can be adapted into dialogues, games, debates, or “creating sentences” and “giving opinion” activities. Reading articles or listening to podcasts can also constitute interesting class activities used as a way to activate the language and force the students to communicate.
Usually students want to lose their fear of speaking English, and they wish to be able to express themselves correctly. Some of them need to use this language at work (or they will in the near future). Some of them just want to learn the language to simply enjoy using it and be able to have access to media they otherwise wouldn’t. It is therefore my belief that it is of utmost importance to make them feel more confident and avoid at all cost making them feel embarrassed in class . Giving them new “tools” and helping them find new ways to communicate will make them more talkative.
Most students are afraid of getting blocked while speaking, expressing themselves as “Indians” to natives (related to feeling embarrassed.) (hon, best re-write that whole sentence) It is additionally very common of them to confuse words (false friends) or structures (L1 interference resulting in transferring syntax directly from their mother tongue). Our job is to make them cope with those habits and overcome them.
The best way to make them learn and (lose, overcome) abandon their fears is to put them in the center of the action and encourage them to practice continuously. Only through their effort and determination (with our guidance, of course) will they improve every day and acquire the language step by step, almost without being conscious of their progress.
Being an authority is not going to work for more than one class, as students would be put in the role of extras and not protagonists, and it would most likely lead to them disconnecting from the class or feeling bored. What we can do to make them learn is make them enjoy the language and the activities we bring to class. All in all, learning from each other, sharing and changing in order to to improve is the only way to do our job: help them progress and help them come closer to their learning objectives, one step at a time.