My teaching approach
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.’ ~Nelson Mandela
Speaking a second language has a lot of social benefits. It is satisfactory in having the ability to order food in a foreign language, to impress natives by having a conversation, by understanding or joking with them.
Additionally learning a second language is that it makes learning a third, fourth language much easier. The challenge isn’t in learning a new language, but rather learning how to learn a language. Once you know the techniques, you’ll be able to apply the grammatical patterns and language techniques in every new language you learn. The key to make a difference in students' progress rests on how a teacher helps students in the learning process and to get them to communicate fluently.
I studied English for several years in high school, and got good grades. Only when I decided to go to London to improve my English, I suddenly realized tha after many years of studying English in school, I couldn’t even order a pint of beer. So what did I do wrong? I couldn’t even ask for basic information! Who was to blame if not worksheets and grammar exercises are not enough to learn a language. No one taught me how to speak.
I grew up with the Grammar-Translation Method which has been widely used as the preferred language teaching method throughout the twentieth century. The Grammar- Translation method teaches grammar rules, and provides vocabulary with direct translations from L2 to L1 and vice versa to memorize. Most teachers now recognize that this method is ineffective by itself as it limits the student to enhance communicative ability. This model might not provide the skills to communicate as ideas and reinterpretations are repressed .
Over the years, I came to conclusions that if you want to express yourself in L2, you have to practice speaking. A lot. Communication is the key to learning L2. The communicative approach to teaching English is the most dynamic and effective method that has convinced me so far.
Speaking should be encouraged in every single activity. I will focus on increasing students skills n listening, speaking, reading. In my personal experience, the exposure to the language (watching films, listening to the radio and music, reading tabloids, newspaper and books) was the key to improve communicating and writing. Students will be advised to practice writing in their own time.
All teaching methods have pros and cons, teachers should employ bits and pieces of each to suit their teaching style and their students’ needs. One can consider the best techniques from any number of teaching methods and apply them to create a personal approach to teaching L2.
I believe in the validity of the communicative teaching approach, this allows students to learn L2 in a very effective and comprehensive way as they constantly develop all four skills communicative competence, (speaking, writing, listening, comprehension) and right away use in real context outside the classroom. Students learn to use grammar and vocabulary from their function within a context. Correcting and avoiding interlanguage or language structures (brought from their native language) are enhanced. Errors are tolerated and they are seen as natural process of developing speaking skills. Authentic materials are used. The functions (utility and different scenarios of everyday life) of the Language takes priority over grammatical structures. To understand context and language meaning are essential when communicating accurately. This is one of the characteristics of the Communicative Method and of the Oxbridge Method.
The Oxbridge method is rooted in the Communicative method. It is based on Triangular projection model where the main goal is to let students acquire listening and speaking skills, via in-class activities (structure, vocabulary, topic) all toughed in L2. Textbooks are not used as all teachers continuously prepare all materials according to students learning goals.
I will definitely adopt the Oxbridge approach to my teaching so that grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation can be applied to a scenario around a topic. For the purpose of understanding the target language, the context in which language is taught is extremely important as it affects the meaning of the language. Applying the target language to everyday situations becomes more natural as it is easier to remember so that students can learn how to communicate freely in the classroom and in real life. I enjoyed planning activities as part of the course, especially the wrap- up where Teachers can check the students understanding by asking a few Concept Checking Questions (CCQ). Also topic activities and role-play can satisfy all different types of learners needs (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). Life scenarios, online articles and newspaper articles to be used for topics.The topic activities will cut out teacher talking time (TTT) and would allow the students to do all the talking(STT). I strongly believe doing the Wrap up at the end of the class, is not only a way to check the learners' understanding, but the students get the second opportunity to understand the TL if not understood until then.
The syllabus should be carefully prepared and should contain both technical vocabulary and lingustic functions. The syllabus gives the context for each and every class, it underlines objectives according to the purposes of language. The needs of the student have to be analyzed by different type of interaction and communication. The syllabus content will focus on topics e.g. Literature, Films, Music, Sports, Science and others as per the interest of students’ level and age group and specific purposes. Each lesson has to include activities from the 3 main categories: Structures, vocabulary and topics. The lesson planning differs depending on the level of the syllabus. For a P4/P5, 3 topic activities are provided, for P2/P3, 1 topic is applied. All planned activities should be engaged, studied and activated. A typical one hour lesson breakdown would be:
The lesson Planning for P3 students:
- Quick questions 5 min
- Structure Activity – 15 minutes
- Vocabulary Activity – 10 minutes
- Topic Activity – 15 minutes
- Structure Activity – 10 minutes
- Vocabulary Activity – 5/10 minutes
- Review of lesson – 5 minutes
I truly believe that if authentic materials were used more, English teaching would be not only more effective and interesting rather than using published conventional books which are most of the time out of date and not dynamic. As per the Oxbridge Method textbooks are avoided, and they are substituted by activities created by the teachers who, under the same system, are responsible for the students acquiring language all the times.
Being a student for many years, I am still threatened by the blackboard symbol (authority in the class). The blackboard disappears and an exciting environment is created, suitable for learning.
Additionally, this is not too dissimilar to Direct Method (Berlitz) of teaching. Real functions and application to real life situations. The students' native language should not be used. The vocabulary is priority over the grammar (Grammar rules are never explicit). It uses vocabulary repetition in context to help students learn to communicate from the beginning. The cons of this method is there is little structural practice, therefore learners can run the risk of inducing wrong rules.The Direct method can be effectively taught only by native speaker teachers.
In the same way as the Direct Method, I believe that immersing the student in the TL, will significantly help students to develop the capacity to communicate. Therefore, classes should be taught using the target language as the only mean. No use of the student’s L1 is permitted.This method was created as alternative to the Grammar-translation method, a reaction against excessive translation.
Being able to identify people’s needs and skills is a talent for anyone who wants to teach. Enabling them to get the students to speak fluently and express their opinion and thoughts are the main goals of my teaching methodology.
I would consider to apply the Total Physical Response Method (TPR) as I might like to teach children in the future. It is based on the coordination of language and physical movement. This method involves the students through entertainment activities to react to what the teacher is saying, but in a physical manner. Grammar is not taught explicitly, TPR is a valuable way to learn vocabulary, idioms. Although this method is indicated mainly for children, I think teachers can introduce some TPR activities into adult classes as it would relax and motivate the students.
When teaching children topics should be understandable and enjoyable. The use of child body language and appraisal motivate children.The teacher could also use more visual props such as objects (Realia), games, songs to simplify the activities.
Some aspects of The Silent Approach teaching method, could be used in certain activities as it does push the student to talk therefore encouraging interaction. Also Pronunciation can be emphasized.
In This method, the autonomy of the learner is emphasized, the teacher only monitors the students' efforts. The students are the active players in the process of learning the language. Pronunciation is seen as fundamental.
In order to achieve this objective, I think knowing your students is extremely important, the student’s age, their motivation, their needs and goals will determine the techniques the teacher choses to use in order to gain the best results. This will also influence the role the teacher plays, not just as a teacher but also as a guide, a monitor, a source of information, a manager, even an agony aunt or simply a friend always prepared for whatever students need. I reckon that a positive environment will put the students at their ease. Teachers should watch students reactions and participation in the class, monitor their body language and need to focus on how the students react in class through monitoring body language and participation in order to eventually save the class by proposing right activities.
Because students at different ages have different needs, the way we teach them will differ too. With young people we may offer a greater variety of games, songs and puzzles.
When dealing with teenagers we need to keep in mind they have enormous potential and commitment to things interest them, but they are wrapped up with a search of identity, they need to feel good with themselves and they are vulnerable towards negative judgments. Therefore teachers should take special care when correcting or signing play-roles games. With older students, the teacher will have to consider why and how they learn the language.Topics (news stories, family related ) will be appropriate for adults. Body language (not direct) should suit them.When Teaching English for Specific Purposes including Business English, Technical English, Scientific English, English for medical professionals, English for waiters, English for tourism, English for Art Purposes, we would teach more language in context rather than grammar or language structure, focusing on TL of the profession. Material should be presented in authentic contexts to make the learners acquainted the specific language and their functions.
Teaching is rewarding when you can see student's progress in real time. The teacher should have these three characteristics Personality, Preparation and Punctuality. Teacher should be always well prepared as student test us all the time. If the teacher is positive and has a good personality and he is well prepared the students will feel relaxed and will want to learn. The teaching performance is fundamental to stimulate this process. I reckon a teacher should facilitate democratically and instruct students through activities depending on their age and abilities. They interact with students throughout the class and act as a controller when giving instructions, bringing the class to order, organizing work. The teacher is a language model for the students and a model for correcting pronunciation so that pronunciation should be corrected from the beginning. Mistakes should be corrected at the right time, this may be done in a more subtle way.The appropriate moment for correction is left to the teacher's discretion, depending on students' confidence. The students should be always engaged with exciting lessons and lots of fun. Keep in mind if they get frustrated they will stop learning. Praising for their efforts and achievements should be done often, but at the appropriate moments congratulate them on their efforts. Praising keep motivated.
I have made an attempt to explain how I would approach teaching, in which I focus on the communication skills to enhance the learners to achieve their goals. I have done this through analyzing the existing teaching models, in particular way the Oxbridge and Communication teaching methods. My vision would be that students are encouraged to speak only in English, bad habits will be eliminated from the start. Learning English is an on-going process and if we achieve it through lots of fun in the class, students learn faster. Also positive attitude is the key to effectively teaching English. We have to keep in mind that to have a good combination of diverse activities, visual aids, real life scenarios will be effective approach for teaching English. Being a new English teacher, I would probably talk to more experienced Teachers to find what method and techniques suit them better as well as to give me advice on troubleshooting and tips, to make teaching a pleasure instrument for both the teacher and the student. The collaboration between Teachers is extremely beneficial to grow as Teachers' community. Essential material can be shared to please teachers and to fulfill Students' needs.
Lack of professional preparation, and dilemmas in the educational system are consequences of the emergent co-teaching in a collaborative school culture. The future of co-teaching may be dependent on increasing the quantity and quality in the school reform and improvement. There are a number of reasons for moving to co-teaching, flexibility in grouping of students, collaboration, cooperation, classroom management, and lesson preparations. Students participate more and have a better student/teacher rapport, and receive more attention. It works well with having one preparation plan and different styles of teaching.
The students take technology for granted. Also Teaching is changing with technology, there are more and more teaching online. Teachers need to stay one step ahead of the students.
In Oxbridge model, teachers are part of a system who share the same goals, material and resources providing better teaching. They prepare the activities under the same system and this increases the teachers' preparation and also reduces the time spent on preparation of activities. Thanks to this system teachers become active motivated playmakers who participate and enjoy the classroom.