Lee Morgan

Not only have I had experience teaching English with various companies and schools during m TEFL course but I have also conducted many private English lessons and in my previous job would work later giving English lessons to my then boss. Outside of language teaching my first job was as a qualified gymnastic coach where I taught a variety of ages basic to intermediate gymnastics working there for two years.

Other than my teaching jobs I have various positions working in bars, retail and most notably worked for a tourism company in Seville helping with a range of tasks from tour guide to bicycle repair.

My teaching approach

My teaching approach

     My teaching approach will be based heavily upon the communicative approach to language learning which takes learning away from clearly defined teaching practices. Instead opting to focus on the macro skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and a goal to improve their communicative competence in these fields. This approach often seen as an umbrella term incorporating any teaching practice that helps students improve their communicative ability in an authentic context has been defined more as a set of five principles. Of these five principles in my approach we would focus greatly upon three as a method of teaching, class structure and syllabus construction.

    The first of these principles is the idea that the goal of the teacher is to get the students to interact within the class using the target language. This translates into the classroom with the students role being changed from solely a passive receiver of information or an imitator as seen in traditional text book based classes and more extreme divergent methods such as the Callan method. The student's role changes to one where first and foremost he is a communicator and these other classroom roles take a back-seat. A focus on discussion in the classroom and encouragement to ask questions to the teacher and to other students will see the student change from not only a communicator but this autonomy in the classroom will help the student become the self-manger of their own learning process. With this in mind the teachers role now changes to someone who manages and guides the student on their own teaching learning path. The teacher would act as the authority on the language who the student can use in an 'agony aunt' role in the classroom and a monitor of their progression over the course guiding it in the best direction.

    This idea that the learner should be responsible in some capacity for their own learning feeds into the second principle of the communicative approach that my personal approach would focus. The idea that a learners own personal experience is important to the learning process and should be incorporated into the classroom is important for both student and teacher with relation to the learning goals of the student. An understanding of the motivations of a student to be in that classroom in the first place can help a teacher to choose activities which relate to that motivations and adapt others to be more relevant to the goals of the learner. These adaptive changes to activities or the structure of the syllabus allow the student to see relevance to their goals in each class but also outside in their everyday lives. Personal knowledge about the students also on a more basic level allows conversation to be more natural and discussion to be elicited in a more comfortable way rather than diverse and unrelated subject matters which are constant reminders of strict and rigid class format. This may result in a lot of interlanguage throughout the class as students just want to get out what they want to say because it matters to them but this is not a bad thing and again stresses the role of the teacher as the monitor and mediator of the class weeding out their gaps in the language. This approach expects interlanguage to be a major theme for the teacher to have to deal with throughout the course as accuracy is second to fluency, we should have to get them talking before we get them talking the right way. A teacher who talks to the student in graded language about things they know and are interested in projects a comfort which will help bring out more introverted students.

    As I said before personal experience and a teachers knowledge of their students helps in the classroom but also can help make association outside the classroom bringing us to the third principle of focus in my approach. The third principle is that there should be a link from the learning done inside the classroom to activities outside the classroom which emphasises the role of the teacher as a guide through a student managed learning process. Although I see this element to be seen most of all in the syllabus, class structure and activities I do not wish for there to be any explicit homework in my approach (but if the student asks for some then some small activities could be provided). Instead this principle is seen through a function and content based syllabus designed to resonate outside the classroom and encourage outside autonomous learning. Activities which introduce the function of sentence structures or the situations where vocabulary can be used helps the student to think about the language while these things are happening in their real lives or if they have to speak in English it gives them practice. A focus on content such as using clips from films or the analysis of music lyrics taps into one of the greatest advantages we have as English teachers and one I feel is underused. Pop culture although diverse from country to country is still dominated by the English speaking world and we shouldn't ignore this as it can be a great source of easily recognisable discussion points, an aspect of the English language that in their day to day lives they will encounter and either an existing motivation for them to learn the language or one a teacher can introduce to them.

    A typical class in this approach would be one which is of course taught in only English with any other language in the class only being a result of interlanguage in discussion. The focus of the class would be on the macro skills of speaking and listening with reading only being used on singular words or small texts used in activities and writing being near to non existent. The reason for this is that reading and writing are not reactive skills which elicit more and more communication throughout the class. Writing especially, a focus on spelling gives too much focus to accuracy while this approach always puts fluency above this with accuracy coming through a repetition of structures in class being refined by teacher error correction within a larger discussion. Structurally the class would be made up of five parts although a teachers responsibility should be to make it feel like one long conversation through well prepared transitions between activities chosen at the teachers discretion. The first part would be a simple introduction and casual discussion to build up a natural flow to the class and create a relaxed tone to be carried throughout the class. The second and third being interchangeable at the discretion of the teacher based on the subject matter of each would be one vocabulary exercise and another focusing on a particular grammatical structure. These two through the use of transitions and a general focus on the function of whatever they are talking about would then inform the fourth part of the class, the topic. The topic should not only take the most time comparatively but also have a conscious effort made to be something designed to elicit the structure and vocabulary from the previous exercises. The topic also should be designed around the second and third principles of the communicative approach that I mentioned, either something which relates to them personally and their learning needs or something that they will encounter outside the classroom. Finally the class should end with some simple concept check questions about some of the target language and a simple conversation again about their activities outside of class.

     The syllabus from which this lessons are constructed should not be a concrete set of classes based on a textbook it should be based upon a preliminary lesson which assesses the learning goals, motivations and based on any personal information gained from this lesson. This would mean a teacher would have great control over the different activities he chose pulling from a larger database categorised based on level. This choice allows the teacher to personalise their classes as the course goes on for the student focusing on affective factors in relation to their interests, personal information and learning goals. Assessment of the students would be done continuously through end of class concept check questions and general performance in class. This assessment would not be told to the students as not to really put them on the spot at any point throughout the course.

    This flexibility and ultimately the approaches allowance for teacher autonomy which can come in very useful when looking at the different age groups that might be taught. With younger groups a less fluid approach to the class structure might be more familiar to them and result in a better learning process as long as it still focuses on the three main principles I outlined in the start of the essay then aspects can be changed. Again with a change in levels the ideal 'one long discussion' class I outlined may be too much for lower levels who cannot express complex opinions or who are just exhausted by speaking another language for extended periods of time. Changes to the class structure are always based on what is best for the student and these affective factors and filters for that matter are only known by someone who is in the class with them week after week it should be at their discretion to change as they see fit as long as it does not draw from the essence of the approach.

    The most important thing to remember about this approach is that its flexibility and focus on real world application and resonance are all there to help the teacher and student alike. This approach wants to aid the teacher to get the most out of their students inside and outside the classroom.



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