My teaching approach
I was born from a Spanish mother, and an American military father. I have lived in the United States for eighteen years. At home I grew up speaking both English and Spanish languages. Since I studied in America , at school everything was given in their natural language. At home my parents got my siblings and I used to speaking with our mother in Spanish, and English with my father and with my brother and two sisters. Currently, I am a bi lingual person, considering that my mother language is English. Being a bi lingual person gives me the opportunity to start a career as an English teacher since I am now residing in Spain. Being able to communicate in both languages while teaching English is an advantage for me.
When I started learning all the different types of methods there were, and how each and every one of them used different tasks to teach, I was amused. Not only because of the different tasks, I started realizing that teaching was not only grammar; I realized that my teaching abilities had come from different types of methods I didn’t even have knowledge about. In teaching a second language, there a lot of factors that can affect the process of a person trying to acquire a target language. In this process of constructivism of my own, I have met different people with different ages, goals, needs, receptive and productive skills.
In my experience with teaching, I have majorly used the Grammar Translation Method. This method was the appropriate in my opinion to prepare students for English written and reading exams. Moreover, to practice the oral part of the exam, a topic was given to them, and they would apply the grammar learnt and wrote a topic about it. When the topic was finished and revised, they would give it as a discourse in class. Another good activity for them in class was the interaction phase. This was a part of the Participatory Approach. They would talk between themselves and open up to each other by talking about their own problems, and the rest of the class would form and make questions to get to the bottom of the problem, and solve it. In this way, the mother language was hardly used. Of course, the pronunciation was corrected afterwards.
How to guide a class when I´ve just met them, and do not know them? Well it all depends of who they are, and what they need. Personally, I think that one of the most important factors of being a teacher is making my students feel confident with my teaching. A good syllabus is needed, and daily lesson planning. Nowadays, the majority of people that need to learn a second language is normally due to their jobs or studies. One of the requirements in Spain today, is to have an English title since in universities they are requiring this title to be able to finish their career and obtain their degree or to maintain their present jobs. Due to this pressure, I have come around with students which goals are totally different to their needs. In this case, the affective factors are normally the strongest points that might affect the productivity of a student. With these kinds of students, corrections are essential, but I personally, do not apply exams in class, and try to ease their learning. Considering that exams might put more pressure on them. Normally the Direct Method was utilized with them. I would read a phrase and they would repeat, their L1 was almost not used and they translated phrases, or vocabulary depending on the context of the sentence. These classes were normally intensive courses that lasted from two to five months. The duration of each class was three hours long, so in this time, we would go over grammar, speaking , reading and writing at the same time. At the start of a new class, it was very important for them to revise what was given in the last class, and again the process of the class, were repetion drills through reading materials. Using the reading materials I would establish groups in class and they would even end up talking about their own experiences. This part was where they enjoyed most. The entire class would end up just conversing and relating their experiences about what had been read.
A teacher´s role is very important in these situations, being well prepared, having a lesson plan for the classes, and motivating them is essential. Indifferently of their English levels, intermediate, or advanced, I would apply Communicative Language Teaching with them since this method evaluates the four macro skills. Interacting with them and giving them the choice to communicate and to change the forms and tenses of a sentence in a context, makes them acquire knowledge of grammar and speaking. But, overall, the motivation given, in my opinion, is a very important point, without forgetting being always a reflective teacher.
As a student, I can say that with my experience, I haven´t only taught, but I have also learned from teaching. Normally, teaching adults to prepare exams, with an organized syllabus from the beginning of the course until the end of it, is much easier to give and follow. But when teaching comes to children, everything changes. The procedure changes almost absolutely. Children do not have needs, they have goals. Their goal is to impress their parents with their innocent, new, second language. Having a class of children makes myself be more reflective than maybe with having adults. In early ages, children absorb more than an adult can. Was my class fun and active? This is one of the many questions I always ask myself after a class with children. One of the objectives that I usually have with them is to make them enjoy while learning. Playing with them by giving them instructions in class to follow and, exchanging instructions to their classmates always using simple vocabulary makes them feel noticed. Using materials in class, realia, so they can visualize the object and retain new vocabulary is also done. In this stage of absorption it is essential for children to have a specific technique. The Audio Lingual Method is a good way to encourage them to use the target language. I would use repetition drills and replacement activities with pictures, but would also motivate them to read out loud in class. Depending of the ages, of course the method is different. If they are early aged children, the best way for them to learn is while playing. I have used infant songs and danced also to the songs. Mimicking the actions of a song and having them copy me is very productive. They memorize vocabulary, learn how to pronounce correctly and the outcome is always positive. Making young learners participate in class while being active and having fun is an applicable approach.
In conclusion, teaching is not only following a specific method or knowing all the grammar rules. Teaching involves being engaged to their students´ learning. I believe that to be a good teacher, this person has to be not only the person that gives them new knowledge, but has to be a person they trust in, a guide or even their psychologist. Deciding which method is correct depends on each person or group, but what I have discovered in learning different methods is that, first, I have to believe in it. It is useless to try to teach in a way when my beliefs do not correspond to it. That is why I apply different points from different methods, I think that each one has useful parts that can be presented. Having this commitment towards people that depend on you to learn is a very big responsibility, and at the moment having a second language is almost necessary. When I see that the outcomes are positive and learners start correcting themselves, that is when I realize that my duty has been accomplished. Learners´ engagement and their compromise is relative in learning. So when I see that after correcting a grammatical error, o pronunciation a student tends to correct himself, for me it´s an accomplished duty.
Here is an example of a Lesson Plan for a 60 mins class:
My Lesson Planning for a class of 60 mins.
Issue: Express possibility, Obligation, Suggestions, etc ( Modal Verbs)
Sub-Issue: Can, Could, May, Might, Must, Should, Would, Be able to
Sub-Issue: School and Work
Type of activity: Ice Breaker
Objective: Quick Questions
Description: describe feelings
Time: 5 mins
Type of Activity: Structure
Objective: Learning how to make phrases with different uses of modal verbs.
Description: Show written expression with modals, How to use each one and its use, Explain rules about modal verbs: infinitive w/out to, can not conjugate in past tense or gerund.
Time: 15 mins
Type of Activity: Vocabulary
Objective: Memorizing vocab and using them in sentences
Description: Showing pictures of fashion items and what its used for, Students should try to give their opinion about it, if its for men /woman, casual, formal, in style or out of style.
Time: 15 mins
Type of Activity: Topic
Objective: Discuss about rules at school
Description: In groups they will write about some rules at school or work and share with partners.
Time 15 mins
Type of Activity: Recap
Objective: Remember the differences about modal verbs
Description: I will say a statement to each individual student, and they will guess what it indicates in each sentence.
Time: 5 mins.