I gained a TEFL certificate with the Oxbridge school in Barcelona, October 2014. During the course I learned about and made lesson plans and was shown how I can improve my teaching skills. I began by observing classes, leading parts of classes and finally taking whole classes as other teachers observed me and gave me feedback on them.
I worked for the 5 years of my studies in a call-centre, as a customer service representative. I have worked in hospitality as a waitress and as a cook. I started washing dishes as an extra job, quickly becoming a cook.
BA (Hons) degree in Contemporary Language Studies and Sociology; 2:1
A Levels: Spanish D; Geography C; English Language B
My teaching approach
The More the Better Approach
My approach to teaching English as a 2nd language would be as learner-centred as possible. It would have a communicative style; what is language for if not to communicate? Input is key to acquisition. The more authentic and 'real' the language presented and reproduced the better. Teachers untimately decide what material is shown and provded in the classroom. Students are not passive agents of learning. They are the most essential part to their own reception, acquisition and creation of knowledge and language. Active participation in class is sought. Pro-activity in learning promoted. Teachers can learn from the students what they should include in their syllabus, depending on the reasons for learning and what communicative objectives they have. I think the teacher has many roles as they shift and change to suit the students' needs. Three roles important to my approach are: a playmaker - deciding the way the material is presented to suit various learning styles; organising and initiating games and keeping the material creative and relevant to the learner; a facilitator - to help the students be deductive in order to 'construct' their knowledge and to adapt course material depending on students (course material is ideal for every single student); a promoter of learning autonomy - make the students aware of their own learning styles and encourage the use of as diverse a medium as possible in and out of class. Listening and speaking would be key but never forget that reading and writing are not dead skills yet!
Communication is the ultimate goal. Listening and speaking would be the main outcomes/ objectives of the course but reading and writing should also be included. The Total Physical Response approach is very useful and definitely more appropriate at the beginner and elemetary levels. The drilling and repetition exercises of the Audio-Lingiual Aprroach are also of most use in lower levels. The Communicative Approach and Silent Approach encourage problem solving activities to enable students to communicate. Students are often more likely to acquire language more easily if they can figure out meaning for themselves. Constantly hearing, speaking, reading and writing in the 2nd language enables their deductive skills. The Direct (Berlitz) Method and Grammar Translation Method include reading and writing as being more important than in the other methods previously mentioned. In my method, I would prefer not to use any translation, as I feel it slows down communication in the student. I would involve reading and writing into the syllabus more than CA, SA and TPR. Unlike the Berlitz Method it would not be the main learning focus and outcome, but is certainly important. Basically the greater exposure the student has to all of the skills of language, and to different ways of presenting said language, the better.
The teaching goals and outcomes should reflect those of the students. When it comes to grammar the students would best be exposed to everything in a natural sequence, moving from the more concrete to the more abstract. The expression of basic statements and interrogatives need to be achieved first to produce more complicated speech later. Vocabulary should be built up immediately and continuously. Like the Oxbridge Method of teaching I would have activities for grammar and vocablary in all classes regardless of age, level, or Specific reasons for learning English. Students may be doing the course to improve fluency, pass an exam, to learn English for business situations...but ultimately communication and therefore comprehension are important. Topical discussions would be introduced slowly but surely as the students grasp the basic grammar and vocabulary. They would necessarily vary depending on age, level and reasons for learning English. Reading would have a role in many classes. At the beginner level, phonetics and morphology can be useful with reading comprehension playing a more equal role in class, the more advanced the learner becomes. Practising phonetics helps with pronunciation which, whilst not always essential to understanding can help with listening comprehension. Knowing morphemes can be useful in developing deductive skills when presented with unkown language, both spoken and written. Whilst I would not explain explicitly the grammatical rules, students may find themselves learning better if they like to recognise rules and formula. I don't believe it gets in the way of acquisition. Over-generalisation of rules and mistakes to the exceptions of rules also occur in children learning their 1st language.
The more the roles of playmaker, facilitator and promotor are used the more the students will be able to learn about themselves as a learner and how to autonomously acquire and learn language. The sooner a rapport can be made between the teacher and the students and the students with each other the better. Communication is more natural and relaxed if everyone feels comfortable speaking and expressing themselves. I think language acquisition is more likely in this kind of situation. To feel less like they are being watched by the rest of the class while they speak, rather to feel that they are involved in a shared experience of learning and acquiring language. Even at a complete beginner level this is possible to achieve through positive body language and gestures.
The syllabus would be of an eclectic style. It would have variations in the weight given to different aspects of the language depending on age, level and specific reasons. Every class across the board would contain grammar through modelling, repetition and deductive activities. Vocabulary would remain fairly similar at the lower levels branching into different areas then depending on age and specific reasons. They would be presented in dialogue, situational and contextual activities. Topics would be introduced as beginners become elementary. The complexity of the issues discussed would depend on the level initially. Age and the reasons for learning could later prescribe the topics covered. Students can be explicit in choosing their input in this area. Listening and oral activities play a major role in all classes. Reading is introduced at lower levels with phonetics and flashcards. Exposure to the sound and sight of the words, as well as pictures can create familiarity and aid some to internalise the target language easier. Reading practice would later include basic signs, menus, keys on maps and adverts. With regards to Specific reasons for learning English and age, skimming and reading can be distinguished to facilitate extracting information from emails, reports, mechanical manuals, social network accounts and dialogues, etc). The amount would increase with level and the content and context would later become more student selected. Being able to read in any language opens up so many doors to active and pro-active learning. Writing would be more prescribed by the students themselves. It would be practised if they want and could be based on topics included in the class.
Each lesson plan would aim to build on the last in order to logically complete the learning and teaching outcomes. They need to be well prepared thinking about timing appropriacy and relevancy to the students. All activities would have a context in real communication. Authentic examples of speech and written materials are essential to show context and the function of the words. It can be possible to undertand every word separately but what does it mean? Concept checking is essential at every step. It is not enough to ask, 'do you understand?'. Get the students to show you they understand by giving examples, synonms, antonyms, give an opinion using the specific target language in each activity. Preparation is key to good lesson plans. Anticipation is a 'must' of preparation. Remember to bear in mind the students' needs and learning objectives. Students learn and acquire in different ways, have different motivations, affective factors change daily - keep the students engaged, constantly producing communicative language and encourage them to activate it outside of the class as well as in.
Some teaching methods don't involve enough reading and writing and others too much. Reading gives yourself the potential ability to teach yourself and comprehend many things even if there is no one there to show you. The ability to read another language opens you to new sources of information. From a menu to a business report. Whilst reading and writing would not be the most practised skills in class, they would be included. How exactly I would get the balance, I don't know. Obviously having such an eclectic view doesn't lead to a very stable theory but through experience, learning from it and sharing the results and experiences of other teachers and students through collaboration, discussion and debate, teachers can become wiser and implement change as necessary. If you know something works use it again. However, bare in mind who it worked with and why, and how that could differ depending on the students who will be learning the material. The more exposure to authentic materials and different styles of presenting the material, the better.
Barcelona, Madrid, Beijing, seoul