My teaching approach
Compare and contrast several teaching methods and approaches
by considering their effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson.
approaches of teaching a foreign language to students all have the same goal:
making the other person understand, write, speak and read a second language the
most correct way in the less possible time.
methods and approaches that have been used –some of them with little or no
success at all - since the nineteenth century until our days; give us a
perspective that there is no “right or wrong” method or approach. There are just methods that imply greater
effort and a longer way to go from part of the student and there are other
methods that are simply shorter or that would simply adapt better to someone’s
personal way of studying or understanding new concepts and ideas.
different methods of teaching one of the most interesting ones is the Direct
Method. By using the Direct Method
students are exposed to receive instructions only in the target language, they
are giving everyday vocabulary and easy sentences when they are starting with
the method and on further sessions they
are introduced to reading and writing. Grammar is taught inductively and the
emphasis is made on correct pronunciation.
Student should be
speaking at least 80 % of the time during the lesson.
The teacher uses a
lot of visual aids, realia and demonstrations to explain new vocabulary to the
The good thing
about this method is that teacher emphasizes always on correct pronunciation.
Students learn how to pronounce “on the spot”.
Also students learn by using examples real life objects, pictures and
other visual materials. Other good things of this method are that it pays a lot
of attention to speaking, and there is a lot of
interaction between teacher and students.
The Direct Method
is also called the Natural Method because is the “most natural” way of learning
disadvantage of this method is that it does not focus a lot on writing, reading
and comprehension which makes the students unconfident with these abilities.
Other method that
has been extensively used and is still been used is the Grammar Translation.
This one is probably the most traditional method being used, when it comes to
teaching a foreign language. It was used
to teach Latin and Greek and it was thought that it could as well be used to
teach other languages that were not “dead”.
This method focuses on a 100% on written work, and excludes nearly all
speaking activities. Students are given texts that they have to translate and
by doing so, they learn the rules of grammar and their application by
translating different passages or paragraphs from the target language to their
native language and vice versa.
No need to go any
further to clarify the main strong and weak points of this method, as they
clearly speak for themselves. If you give a student only written work he will
develop only written abilities, but there will be no one to control how the
student pronounces the words, no one to correct his or her mistakes when he
speaks, because there is no speaking at all.
The students learn
language that is used mainly in a written and literary, and not in real
On the other hand
the advantage or strong points of the system are that it focuses on writing and
reading, so students learn a lot of grammar by translating. They learn how to
apply the rules; therefore they end up learning the grammar.
attention in another method, we have the Audio-lingual Method. This method had
its biggest success in the 60’s and 70’s when it became very popular. It had
its roots in the Direct Method, as it is similar to that one, in the sense
that, both methods advise students to be taught a foreign language, without using
the students’ native language when it comes to explain new words or
grammar. The main difference with the
Direct Method is that in this particular method, students are drilled by
teacher in the use of grammar.
Repetition in the
Audio-lingual Method plays a key role, as is probably one of the basic
instruments the students have, if they want to learn.
Drills and pattern
practices are given to students and they have to repeat them, until they get
The purpose of
drills and repetition is that there will be a moment when the answers to the
questions will come automatically.
not important that students make mistakes when it comes to pronunciation, on
the contrary. It is expected that errors will be produced during the lesson,
but there will be decreasing as the number of repetitions increases.
Method gives importance to listening and speaking competences over writing and
reading and defendants’ believe that the development of language skills is a
matter of habit formulation.
The disadvantages of
this method are that repetition and drill practices can create a habit; the
method does not pay attention to comprehension, reading nor writing. There is no grammar explanation at all, as
everything is memorized, so it is not really a very “creative” method. It does
not allow students to think by them. All they have to do is listen and repeat.
Once they have memorized, they will repeat the sentence or word in a similar
Approach refers to the way teachers focus the teaching of a foreign language,
in such a way that their students can communicate in a conscious way, and
taking into consideration their real life experiences. Some instructors,
teachers and educators that were not happy with the Audio-lingual method and
the Grammar Translation method, started to develop a new approach to language
learning. They introduced some changes to make sure students who chosen this
type of system will learn “realistic” English. Not the one that you can find in
books or in Cassettes or Cd’s. They felt students did not know how to use
appropriate social language, expressions, gestures, etc. In other words the
above mentioned methods were not covering “real life”.
So basically, they
engaged students by giving them the opportunity of using authentic language in
real situations of every day life.
Students could interact with one another and live a much more
By using real life
situations , students are encouraged to face this “in the lab” rather than on
the streets, and use a foreign language to the best of their ability It is
always best for them to do it first in a classroom and then in the
street!! It is highly likely that they
will come across one of these situations in their future.
motivated towards this method because it gives them the opportunity to think by
themselves, they need to be prepared for any situation that could arise them.
They are truly motivated because they want to communicate “meaningful” ideas
either with their peers or with the teacher – although the teacher is the one
that does less speaking in this type of method!
advantage of the Communicative Approach is that there is a lot of interaction
between students, they get to experience real-life situations, they socialize,
and that the method itself can be very creative – depending on the teacher of
course –. On the other hand, some of the main disadvantages are that the
approach focuses on speaking and listening, leaving reading and writing a bit
behind. Grammar is not explicitly taught, and that is a main drawback.
There are other
methods and approaches that I have not mentioned in this brief essay, such as
the Silent Way, the Functional Approach, Task Based Learning, etc. Not because they are not mentioned I feel
they are of no importance. I do believe, all them contribute to achieve the
goal I mentioned when I first started writing. The important thing is to learn
to speak a foreign language. All this methods and approaches are simply the
different paths that the society has developed to make easier for someone to
reach their target.
opinion about all this different methods, systems and approaches, is that there
is no right or wrong. No black or white!!
If the purpose is to create a communicative
lesson, that will depend entirely on the audience – that is to say the students
– that you have in front of you as a teacher.
Again, someone can
be very “visual” and he would love to receive all the information using the
Audio-lingual method. Someone else might be an enthusiastic reader and he/she
is very good with texts, so for him/her the best thing would be a Grammar
Translation method, because for that person, by the use of this method he/she
feels they are receiving all the information they need.
will simply enjoy the task based method, because they like challenges and
So as I said before, this is a very personal option. If I had to choose which
one would be the ideal one, I would say a combination of all of them, and I
would explain why and how it should be done, but I guess that is another