My teaching approach
My teaching methods, and how my teaching world would be.
By: Henrik Martin Rødeseike Mæland
When I think of teaching, and how I can be the best teacher possible, I have to think back to the teachers I had when I went to school, or the university. What was it with these teachers that made me not only like them, but also learn more from them than the other teachers?
One thing they all had In common was the relationship I had with them. They had built up a good report with me over time. Making me not only trust them, but also making me more open for learning. This is what I think is important. To be good at reading your students, and to make them an active part of the learning process. Making them have fun learning.
I would try to adapt my teaching to whatever needs the student has. One student can be totally different from another. Having totally different mentalities, and intelligences that the teacher should try to be aware of, and modify his teaching and syllabus after. One example is that you would teach a child differently than a grown up. Where a child might have easier learning by doing, and be more active physically when learning a language. A grownup might need more repetition than the child, and have a different approach to learning. This means that the teacher need to understand the learners needs and try to alter the teaching into something that is a good experience for all the learners.
Another example is that you have two students with different intelligences. Where some students might be more linguistic, and better with languages, others might be more athletic and kinesthetic. I for instance have always had a more spatial approach to my learning by relating things to pictures etc. With that’s said, I think it is more than way of teaching a student. I think kinesthetic students can learn by a spatial approach and others groups. But I think it is important to try to know this so you can trigger some interest and giving them a good reason for learning a new language.
The role I want in the classroom is as a guide, playmaker, and a resource. A person who are there to drag them in the right direction and to give them feedback on how they are doing it. Not telling them that they are wrong, but rather tell them how they can do it differently. I would try to make the shy student speak more, and I would try to correct the outgoing talkative student on the same time. Trying to make the classes as fun as possible without losing the seriousness of the teacher role.
An ideal student teacher scenario would be that I have the students speak freely, and have the better student drag the shy students along. Having me there as a tutor and a guide to help them with mistakes, and to be sure that the syllabus is followed, and that the students learn what is planned for the class.
There are many different syllabuses and all of them can be used in different scenarios, and with different classes of different levels. Where Function based syllabus, and situation based syllabus can be appropriate for low level students for them to be able to start conversations by their own etc. Where task based syllabus might be for intermediate students. It might also be nice to use content based syllabus as well to get the students more interested in the material, and therefor learn faster.
One example of a syllabus: Here I might have started up with asking them about thing like “have you been to the post office today?” “Did you get/send mail?” Questions that can relate to a situation in the everyday life. Having activities later that still continues with this theme of situations will enhance the students learning by repetition as well as making them used to being in everyday situations. An example of activity can be role playing, where you make a false scenario and make the learners practice on each other.
I would have waited with the structure based syllabus until somewhat higher level students. It is ok to use some structures here and there in the beginning, but I believe that language comes from practicing the language before learning the structures. It doesn’t matter if you are a master in conjugation if you’re not able to separate the words when listening to conversations. This is just an overall thought off course. Some structures needs to be taught earlier than others and are necessary for understanding the language and to have a steady learning process.
Example of how I would structure a one hour class: example P3
The first couple of minutes are crucial for many reasons. Especially if you come in to a new class, where the learners don’t know you and you don’t know them. You have to build report. You have to show them that you are the authority in the classroom, but at the same time show that it’s not the strictest environment to be in. I want them to know that learning is supposed to be fun.
I would have started off by asking them some simple questions. These questions can be all from how the weather is outside, to what day it is, or what they have done lately. It is two reasons why I think this is important. #1, it is a good way of finding out the learners level of understanding before starting the actual activities, and #2. It will help building report with the learner from an early stage of your teacher/student relationship.
Activities: I believe that languages should be taught in a playful manner. Meaning that I don’t want one activity to take up a whole class, but rather have multiple activities that follow a red thread throughout the class. These activities would aim at different language skills like Speaking, listening, Vocabulary, etc. By doing this, I might manage to make the class less boring and be repeating vocabulary and structures without doing the exact same thing for an hour. For example if I am going to teach the students the use of the first conditional, I would probably start the class with some sentences that uses this structure, but would try to relate them to topics or vocabulary I want them to learn later on. I would try to use cognates for them to easier relate the words we use to they’re already learned words from they’re mother tongue. I would try to mix speaking activities with listening, and also more kinesthetic activities combined with special activities.
In the end of the class I would have a wrap up of the class. Here I would ask them related questions to what we have gone through, and of what they hopefully have learned during the class. By doing this, I assess them in a way that is not terrifying. But I can get an idea of what they have learned, and if I have to change my teaching in order for them to get the best education possible.
There are many different teaching methods. All of them have different pros and cons when it comes to teaching and learning. I don’t believe in using one method. That would take a lot from not only the teachers, but also the students. The audio lingual method which is used in the military is good for its purpose and we have learned a lot from it. But taking that into a school class of 6 years old children would be a bit frightening. Teaching methodology is pretty much a philosophical way of categorizing learning. I don’t think that you can use one methodology to be a good teacher, but rather use these methodologies and what we have learned from they’re studies to adapt the teaching to the needs of each student. I think that my teaching will mainly lean towards Task based instruction, and total physical approach. I think that when you put the students in ordinary situations, and make them used to do speaking in the target language with each other can have a huge benefit when it comes to learning. I am also fund of the studies of the total physical approach. Kids are intuitively learning by listening and relating the sounds to physical actions. It would be ideally to manage to get older student to learn in the same way.
The last thing I will cover in may paper is the way of using assessments, and correcting faults.
Assessments are used by the teacher to evaluate the level of the student, and to check if the teaching is working as planned. There are multiple types of assessments, and I personally think that formative, continuous assessments that are used over time is more valid than the fixed point assessments model where you will have a summary in the end of the term to evaluate the students level. The reason why I think so is that everybody can have a bad day. Some people have a fright for tests, and some people are dyslexic, and will have problems with the test no matter what. To have a continuous assessment like teachers evaluation throughout the course will give the student a more stress free assessment, and give the teacher a wider knowledge about the learner’s level and needs.
Correcting errors can be a friend and an enemy. You do not want to demoralize the student, and ruin his or her motivation of speaking, but it is important for the student to know the faults they are making for them to be able to self-assess themselves in the future. I will have an open teacher journal technique. With that I mean that I will evaluate the class situation, and correct them thereafter. Examples can be that if it is a very calm situation where it is logical to correct the error instantly, I would. But if there is a discussion where I know that the correction would handicap the speaker. Then I would have waited until the end of the activity. Write down the errors, and give it to them or correct them after.
Teaching Is a world of adaptation. To be a good teacher you will have to be able to read your students, and adapt your teaching and assessments to each specific student. It is nearly impossible to make one system that can work for all. A good teacher should know a lot about many ways of teaching, and be able prepare each class appropriate to what kind of students he or she has.