My teaching approach
When choosing what approach to teach English, many things need to be thought about and questioned. Much like our future students, we as teachers must think about our motivations and goals. As a teacher my ultimate goal is to help my students reach their goals and targets and to enable them to confidently use and speak English going forward. Using my own experience in learning I feel the best approach to use is the Oxbridge approach. I feel the Oxbridge approach best encompasses what the teaching process and environment needs to be, to allow the student to thrive and meet their goals. I also feel it allows the teachers ‘Playmakers’ to have a real hands on approach.
I believe the first step on day one of teaching a new student is to always find out why they are wanting to learn English, and what theirs goals are and the motivation for these. I believe this initial step is hugely important as it will allow you to understand your students rational for studying English. It will also allow you to emphasise and put yourself into your students shoes and mind set, which will ultimately allow you to build rapport with your student and allow you to us this knowledge and put it into your teaching.
The Oxbridge approach is taught through a system which the teachers have an active say on what should be included. This system then provides the platform for you to teach, providing a number of activities and subjects to cover. From this I would ask the student how they like to learn and what works best for them. Obviously this maybe more difficult with beginner classes but you can get a feel or what keeps them interested and motivated in the first couple classes. By having this information it will allow teachers to have an understanding of what the students affecting factors maybe and what kind of learner they are.
I feel it is very important for the teacher to be personable, non-intimidating and someone the student feels comfortable expressing views and ideas to, and not someone they do not feel comfortable making mistakes in front of.
The Oxbridge approach places speaking and understanding as primary abilities. For some people this is seen as a weakness to the approach as it places no importance on spelling. With this in mind the course structure will be questions heavy. Both simple questions for beginners to allow them to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to understand what is being asked of them, and more open ended questions for advanced students to demonstrate their views and opinions. For beginners the course structure will be simple, introducing them to common vocabulary and sentences. Placing emphasis on the student noticing the patterns and structures. The goal for beginners will be to increase their vocabulary, basic grammar structure, understanding questions and being able to answer without being prompted. Each class for beginners will include a number of activities with a large amount of visuals aimed to push and further their knowledge. The course set up for the advanced students will be quite similar, however they will be asked to express their thoughts and opinions on subjects and debates in which they have an interest in. At this stage we will introduce more direct grammar teaching, as by this stage they are able to communicate effectively. Adding grammar now will be easier for the student to understand and to put into practice.
In regards to a day to day lesson plan, a beginners students class will look as follows:
- Quick questions – these questions will be based on what the student learnt last lesson, as a way of knowing what the student has remembered and to provide the teacher with any missing knowledge, and what needs to be worked on. This is also a time to work on your rapport with the student, maybe asking about their weekend or events that you have spoken about previously. The quick questions will also include structure and tense based questions.
- Activity – at the beginner stage these activities are aimed at increasing vocabulary and introducing them to new scenarios. A lot of the activities will have visual aides to prompt the student. When the students are more advance the activities are aimed at generating debates and for them to give their opinions on events, situations and things going on in the world today.
- Questions – once the first activity is complete, you would then ask the students questions in relation to the previous activity but using their experience. This is aimed to help the student put what they have just learnt into context and hopefully easier for them to remember. For the advanced students the activities will be less visual in terms of pictures but more reading statements and points of view to spark debate.
- Vocabulary – We will then go over existing and new vocabulary using visual aides provided on the system.
- Structure – We will then practice different structures both grammatically and tense based. For beginners we would alternate with the vocabulary and structure, one being new ideas and the other using those ideas with what they already know. This would be on a weekly basis to try and not confuse the student as this could lead to a lack of motivation if they are being asked too much of.
- Activity and questions – repeat the process above 2/3 more times. Always trying to find a bridge or link between subjects/activities as to not confuse the student and to continue a good fluency. During these activities and tasks the teachers role is more for guidance, allowing the student to work out the answers for themselves rather than being told the answer.
- Quick questions – You will round off the the lesson with more quick questions. Most of which will be the same quick questions asked at the start of the class and incorporating some from the class just taught.
At the beginners stage of their learning I wouldn't correct all of their mistakes immediately as soon as they happen, but rather once they have finished what they are saying. I believe immediate correction at the beginning of their learning would be detrimental, knock their confidence and they may lose their motivation. Clearly as teachers we want our students to be the best they can be I would place more importance on them gaining confidence in using the language before getting them word perfect.
Age won't really change the structure of the course of lesson planning. The main difference between different age groups will be their purpose of taking the course and their motivations. The Oxbridge approach allows enough scope on the system for you to ask questions more suited to different age groups but still within the perimeters of what the system is prompting. This is beneficial because if you ask the same questions to a 50 year old to that of what you asked a child, the 50 year old may feel patronised and lose motivation and patients with the teacher.
The language used in class would be strictly English. I would take the stance of not being able to understand their mother tongue and therefore all questions, answers and directions will be given and received in English. The target language would be to enable to student to successfully use English in any scenario.
Grammar will not be taught in the same way as many of the other approaches. In every class we will cover structures and functions by modelling and providing the students with examples and then asking the students to use those structures with vocabulary already learnt. The teaching will be so the student picks up the patterns of grammar, rather than having it drilled into them and not really understanding or being unable to choose the correct grammar for themselves. With emphasis on the student self correcting. Of course this can change slightly depending on the students goals. If the student is wanting to be grammatically perfect, then we can introduce this at an early stage, but again giving them enough tools to be self aware of the patterns and structures.
In terms of being able to grade and/or assess the students progress, in the first class I will keeps notes on what the student can and can't do, what they struggle with and what their goal is. Every 2,3 months we will revisit the notes and go over them to show exactly how much they have improved. This will help both the student to see how much they have learnt and to reassure them that they are improving, but also help me as the teacher to see what areas have improved, what still needs more work and what techniques work best for that student. I am a strong believe in learning through experience and by doing this it will enable both to work together to set new goals and make sure the student gets to where they want to be.
Using the Oxbridge approach I feel will best enable me to help my students reach their goals and targets and to successfully use English in their daily lives. I feel the Oxbridge approach allows both the students and teachers to work to their full potential and use their individual assets to get to where they want to be. Research has proved that not everybody learns in the same way, so by being able to see how the student learns and what their affective factors are, the approach allow us to work to their strengths. I also feel the approach leaves room for the teacher to be seen less as a teacher and more like someone the feels comfortable with and can trust, which in turn ultimately leads to a better learning environment and I believe better results.
Quick questions –
These questions will be a mixture of questions about how they are and what they have been up to (to build rapport). Questions that are about what was worked on in the last class (enabling the teacher to see where the student is u to and what needs to be worked on) and structure questions that will be supplied on the system
Again this will be provided within the Oxbridge system. The first one I would choose would be one that may contain a game or matching pictures with vocabulary. This is because it will loosen the student up and get them into gear for the more challenging tasks coming up
Going over vocabulary they already know and providing them with further vocabulary. Keeping this within the structure provided by Oxbridge and sometimes adding vocabulary where possible that would help the student toward their goals
If we have learnt a large amount of new vocabulary then we will go over structures already taught and any new ones that the system prompts to teach.
I will choose an activity that will hopefully spark a debate and give the student a chance to use the new structures and vocabulary they have just learnt.
Wrap up –
This will be questions in regards to what has been learnt in that lesson. Getting them to use the new vocabulary and new structures.