Robert Wylie





My teaching approach

There are various different ways in which teaching can be carried out, all of which have positive and negative points associated with them. When looking to have a communicative lesson some methods are much more effective than others, in fact some teaching methods are completely the opposite. A communicative lesson is when you integrate both listening and speaking and real language is used. This means that the students learn language that they will be able to use if they travelled to an English speaking country for example. When using the communicative approach to learning, any mistakes that are made by the students are seen as natural and accepted by the teachers. Speaking and understanding are the two main things that this approach works on, reading and writing come second to these.

The whole idea of learning a new and different language is to be able to acquire the knowledge that is passed onto you by the teacher in order to be as fluent as possible. Different methods aim to achieve this in different ways some of which are effective and others not.

 

The system that Oxbridge has in place is based on the communicative approach to learning. This is done in part by the way that the teaching is carried out. For example the entire lesson is conducted in English, this helps primarily with the students speaking and listening skills. The Oxbridge system also has a clear structure to it, starting with some quick questions and then moving on to some different activities. The quick questions are there as an ice breaker to get the students into the rhythm and mind set of speaking in English. The activities that proceed this are based on a topic, on vocabulary and on structure too. These ensure that the students are learning but doing so in English. It is an important part of the class to get the students to debate and discuss subjects between themselves, as this will build confidence and aid progression.

The attitude that the teachers have in these lessons are important. They take a back seat role to allow the students to have more talking time. This is known as low teacher talking time. In order for this to be achieved the teacher needs to project their knowledge by guiding the students and then allowing the students to carry out the intended activities.

Personally I feel that this is a great way to learn for a student. This is because they do not have to have lots of textbooks, or write lots of translations down, but they are able to progress too despite being without these tools. This method is known as being modern and leaves behind the old methods that were used.

 

The Callan method to teaching is done verbally but by drilling the information into the students. Quick questions are asked one after the other at a rapid pace with the students needing to answer immediately. Any mistakes that are made are corrected there and then, which is something that can harm the flow of the sentence and conversation. Because of this, it is possible for the students to lose focus and confidence. It also puts the students under pressure from the start which is not always effective.

Personally I feel that this method is not effective for people who are looking to learn a language. Although there could be an argument for it helping with quick responses and learning under pressure, I feel that the Oxbridge method is a lot more effective. Both have the students speaking in English, however with the Callan method all they are doing is answering questions in English. Not like with Oxbridge where they are forming sentences and having a discussion.

 

Suggestopedia is a completely different was of learning a language. During this method the teacher puts on some relaxing music and acts out a scene in the classroom. They explain to the class exactly what they are doing as they demonstrate this. The music that is on in the background is aimed to relax the students so that they can concentrate more. They believe that this is a way in which the students are able to absorb more therefore progress.

With this method there are no textbooks used, they simply learn by watching the teacher and what they are saying. The attitude of the teacher needs to be dramatized and over perform everything that they are doing. This is so that the students achieve a clear understanding of what the teacher is doing.

Verbal communication however is something that is missing from this method. The students do not talk but only listen. This will obviously affect their confidence when speaking but also the way in which they pronounce the language will be affected.

For these reasons I do not believe that this method is effective. The progression that the students may make can only be minimal due to the fact that there is lack of discussion. This method is not communicative as the students simply observe the class and do not get involved.

 

The Direct method is one that is taught only in the intended target language. No translations are allowed at all which means that students are always learning new words or phrases. For this reason the approach to learning from the students is different to some other methods, for example the Suggestopedia method. The teacher asks the students to repeat what they have said a lot, by asking the same questions but in a different way. This then gets the students used to speaking in English and answering certain questions.

The way in which this is taught is by demonstrations and asking the students what a certain thing is. This can be seen as communicative as there is talking taking place between the teacher and students. When learning errors are seen as natural and tolerated in the communicative approach, this is something that is the same with the Direct method.

The goals of the students are to learn the language and to feel confident using certain structures. They are able to improve their pronunciation when using this method which will help with building confidence too.

The attitude of the teacher is one which allows the students to make mistakes but then correct these too. The pace also needs to be kept steady by the teacher, there is no point going too slow, but too fast will affect the students too.

With this method there are both positive and negative points. For example is does integrate both speaking and listening, something which will help the students throughout the learning process. The classes however can be repetitive and therefore may not help the students’ progress quickly from week to week. This method is useful in creating a communicative lesson despite not being as good as the Oxbridge approach to this. It is for example better than the Callan and Suggestopedia methods.

 

Total physical response is a method which ensures that the students are always using their body to learn. Actions are repeated a lot, which ensures that the students start to learn what certain words mean. This is called drilling information into the students.

The approach to learning is completely different to any of the others in that to teach, the teacher carries out different actions in front of the class, and the class proceed to copy. Whilst they are carrying out the exercise they speak in English which helps them to learn, but can be seen as being in a fun way.

The way in which these classes are taught is completely different from all the other methods. It involves as much participation from the students as it does from the teacher. The teacher must ensure that the class is fun and interesting otherwise the whole method can fail. This means that when carried out correctly this form of learning is communicative.

The attitude of the teacher needs to be enthusiastic in order to motivate the class and to get them participating. They also need to act out the lesson to the students, this is a skill that they need to have as most of the lesson is based on this. Without both of these the classes would be uninteresting and not helpful to the students at all.

I do feel that this can be a helpful method when learning a foreign language such as English for example as it enables you to improve your listening skills, as well as talking too. However it does not focus on the grammar which may mean that the students find it hard to acquire the language.

 

Looking at all the evidence that is available, it is clear that not all methods that are used to teach, both from in the past and modern day ones being used at the minute, are communicative. Some are like this because they don’t aim to be, but when learning a language the communicative approach is the best to adopt. Whichever technique is adopted learning a language is hard, and these different methods show that it can be done in many different ways.

 



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