I DID THE OXBRIDGE TEFL INTENSIVE COURSE SEPTEMBER 2015 ALSO I DID MY FIRST TEFL COURSE ONLINE IN AUGUST 2011. FOR 2 YEARS I TAUGHT PRIVATELY. CHILDREN AND ADULT CLASSES PREPARING THEM FOR THE RELEVANT EXAMS.
OVER THIRTY YEARS EXPERIENCE OF TEACHING TENNIS TO ABLE AND DISABLED BODY. ALSO, WORKED AS A FREELANCE PROOFREADER FOR CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, MACMILLAN, HARPER COLLINS ETC,.
PART QUALIFIED ACCOUNTANT. DIPLOMA IN BUSINESS STUDIES. CERTIFICATE OF MORTGAGE ADVISE AND PRACTICE.
My teaching approach
How I would approach teaching English
Every student has their own reason for learning English, and as a teacher, it would be very important to establish at the beginning of a course their goals and objectives for learning, and what they want to achieve by the end of the course. This would be done through a short questionnaire, which would facilitate myself structuring a syllabus for the student. Student motivations are reasons for starting a course, for example; work, travel, exams or for pleasure. There are many affective factors to the way a student learns, and I would need to be aware of these, for example; a shy student may be reluctant to participate orally, an over confident student may have a dominating effect on the class, and also students attending lessons after work may be tired or stressed. All these human factors need to be taken into consideration by the teacher.
For me, I would like my students to develop all the necessary skills to communicate effectively in English. It would be important for my students to recognize their progress as it happens and grow in confidence in the language.
Of the four skills, I would, in general, choose a communicative approach to enable students to be able to communicate effectively in English for their own needs. Effective listening and speaking skills are absolutely key in today’s world of International English. However, this overall approach would need to be adapted accordingly to students’ needs. For example, if a student is preparing for an exam such as one of the Cambridge Exams, they would need to work on Reading and writing skills to succeed in these parts of the exams, or if they were learning English for academic purposes their Reading skills would need to be worked on.
Of the language areas, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling, these would all to some degree be part of my teaching. For example, with the communicative approach I mentioned above, grammar and vocabulary would be part of the lesson to assist the development of communication, but not presented explicitly as ‘grammar’ and ‘vocabulay’ with rules etc. Pronunciation is key to effective communication so this would be an area I would be attentive to in my teaching. Of course, I would not over correct so as to impede confident fluency. If writing is an important learning goal of my student or class, then correcting spelling would clearly be part of my teaching to ensure written accuracy.
Having knowledge of the students’ learning goals and needs, and having assessed their language level, I would structure a course accordingly. First of all I would plan the contents of the syllabus. It may be structure, function, situation, skill, task or content based, or a mixture of some of these, depending on the students’ needs. The content of each lesson would need to be graded according to the students’ level. Once I had organized the contents of the syllabus, I would consider how the contents of each lesson would be implemented. I would build in revision lessons regularly to consolidate and recycle new language. I would also include ways to evaluate the students’ progress (possible assignments or tests), so the students are clear as the course progresses what areas they need to work on.
An example of how a class would be structured: brief description of activities I would do and objectives of each, materials I would use, including why I would choose them. How practise of TL would be carried out.
Lesson: Eating out at a restaurant
Level: Pre intermediate
Objective: To learn how to order a meal in a restaurant
Vehicular language of the classroom: The prevailing language would be English at this level, carefully graded to the students’ level, because being exposed to English spoken in this way steadily improves the students’ comprehension as they hear the same language and phrases, repeatedly over the period of a complete course.
As a quick question activity to get the students warmed up, I would ask the students ‘Do you like eating out in restaurants or cafes?´ ´How often do you eat out?’ ‘What’s your favourite food?’ ‘What’s your favourite restaurant?’
Objective: introduce students to topic and get them interested.
Prepare some realia – a restaurant menu with the following categories: starters, main courses and desserts. Also include a section on drinks. In the starters and main courses include fish, meat and vegetarian options.
Give the menu to the students. Students read the menus on their own, underlining any vocabulary they do not understand. One by one, ask students to call out the words they do not know. At this point, ask if other students can explain the words, before teacher explains.
Objective: to make sure students understand all vocabulary on the menu, so they are able to select a meal they would like.
Listening comprehension – students listen to a couple of friends ordering food in a restaurant from the menu they have. Students answer some basic comprehension questions on the listening. Check that students understand the functional language used for ordering food.
Objective: to listen and understand phrases used for ordering food and asking questions.
Role play: students work in pairs with the menu and practise ordering food from the menu. One student is waiter and the other is the customer. Teacher monitors and listens in to the pairs. With regard to any errors made by the students, the teacher would make a note and feedback before the end of the lesson to see if the students are able to correct the sentences themselves before the teacher supplies the correct sentence if necessary.
Objective: to practise using the language for ordering a meal in a natural situation.
Wrap up: To wrap up the lesson, teacher elicits the key phrases for ordering a meal from the students.
Objective: to ensure the learning outcome of the lesson has been met.
The roles of the teacher and student are important to clarify. The teacher imparts knowledge and facilitates the use of this knowledge. Within the TEFL classroom it is important that the teacher talking time is low (20%) and the student talking time is high (80%). The teacher should facilitate where possible peer interaction (pairwork), and peer explanation to encourage the máximum use of spoken English in the classroom. The students should be encouraged to ask the teacher questions after a presentation of a function, vocabulary or language. Whilst the teacher imparts knowledge, it is important when correcting errors to first evaluate how important the error is in a particular situation – would it impede communication? Is the student normally quite shy? If the answer to these questions is No/Yes, then perhaps an error can be ignored in the interest of improving the student’s confidence in speaking. Another way of grouping errors rather than individually correcting is to note them down during the lesson, and have a short session at the end where students are asked if they can correct the errors.
With regard to the Mother Tongue, if a student is struggling to understand a particular point of language, then a quick translation in the Mother Tongue assists the progress of the lesson. With time, the need for the Mother Tongue would decrease.
Learning outcomes always need to be realistic and achievable, and relevant to the students’ learning needs. I would assess learning outcomes by quick fire questions after a particular point has been presented and practised. I would recycle this language the following lesson to gauge the student’s knowledge. I would also include this language in a weekly review in the form of a short oral test to ensure the language has been understood and remembered. It is so important to assess the learning outcomes to ensure that students are learning steadily and achieving their goals. It’s also valuable reflection for the teacher on their own teaching methods of a particular point, ie is it working?
My approach would change between teaching beginners and advanced students. For beginners, the speed would be slower, the input in terms of language would be less, the materials would be different, the level of correction would be less to encourage students to communicate confidently with their new found language. However with advanced students the speed would be faster, there would be more correction to ensure accuracy at this high level and the content of the lessons would be higher. If I were teaching different age groups, the realia for example would need to be age appropriate and the content this way too. Similarly there are activities that children would enjoy and are appropriate for their age, whereas teenagers and adults would not enjoy and respond to these activities.
To sum up, this week as a teacher I have learnt many methods and approaches to teaching, out of which I will select the most appropriate according to my teaching situations. I would choose from the following: communicative approach, task based instruction, participatory approach, the direct method, the audio-lingual method and the silent way. I have used parts of the silent way to demonstrate without speaking to some of my students as a tennis coach over the past 30 years.
Denzil Reid - September 2015