My teaching approach
Over the last centuries the learning and
knowledge of English as a foreign language (EFL), has been the axis of interest
for different foreign cultures that have wanted to communicate in English for
different aims. English is one if the most commonly spoken language in the world
in terms of native speakers. It is widely learned as a second language and used
as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries,
as well as in many world organisations. Usually, EFL is learned either to pass
exams as a necessary part of one's education, for career progression while one
works for an organisation or business with an international focus or for
English teachers have gone through a variety of methods
for the purpose of communication to teach English that have seen enormous
changes over the past century. Lets review some of these methods that are
actually use by some teachers, in order to compare and contrast some of the teaching
methodologies to create communicative English lessons.
The Grammar Translation Method. (GTM)
This method is known as the first foreign language teaching method.
The goals of this method are: to be able to read and translate literary
masterpieces and classics from the native language of the speaker to English; classes
are taught in the mother tongue; the vocabulary is taught in the form of lists
of isolated words; grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and
instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words; little attention
is paid to the content of texts, which are treated as exercises in in
grammatical analysis; often the only drills are exercises in translating
disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue and no
attention is given to the pronunciation of words.
As is mention above GTM was the first TEFL method that it was used,
even though in some parts of the world some teachers still use it, GTM differ
from others teaching methodologies from the communicative goal to speak
Some disadvantages of this method are: students only learn to write
and read but not to speak; no effort in pronunciation; they don’t practice the
spoken language and don’t learn how to use the grammar in a normal context.
Some of the advantages of this method are: students learn writing
and reading comprehension, grammar structures, communication between the
teacher and the learners does not cause linguistic problems because they are
able to communicate in the native language and; the teacher can easily assess
whether the students have learnt what he has taught them.
Direct Method (DM)
In contrast with the GTM, the basic premise
of the Direct Method is that students learn to communicate in the target
language, partly by learning how to think in that language and by not involving
their native language in the learning process. The goals and advantages of this
method include: teaching the students how to use the language spontaneously and
orally in a normal context, linking meaning with the target language through
the use of realia, pictures or pantomime; abstracts ideas are define from
synonyms and other knowledge; students should talk most of the time (not the
teacher); the pronunciation of words and grammar structures are emphasized from
the beginning of classes and; the grammar is taught inductive.
However, some disadvantages of the DM are: not
translation is aloud so for beginner students is very hard to communicate from
the first day of class as they can do with other type methods like the GTM;
sufficient attention is not pay to reading and writing in contrast with GTM;
the teachers needs to be native English speakers or speak fluent English in
order to teach this method, in larger classes this method is not properly
applied and; teaching in this method does not satisfy the needs of individual
students, as it can do the CLL method that will be explain below.
The community language learning (CLL)
The CLL is one of the so-called ‘designer’ methods,
which appeared in the burst of methodological experimentation in the 1970’s
(along with The Silent Way, Suggestopoedia, TPR and other methods), which form
part of the Humanistic Approach to language learning.
The key features of all these innovative
methodologies are that they all in some way defied the current language
teaching orthodoxy and they all emphasised the learners’ responsibility for
their own learning.
CLL was the first method to combine the
field of language learning with the dynamics and principles of counselling,
differing from the GTM and the DM.
The initial struggles with learning the new
language (that are suffer by beginner students of the DM) are addressed by
creating an environment of mutual support, trust and understanding between the
students that are seen as clients and the teacher that becomes the counsellor.
The method encourage teachers to see their students as "whole" persons,
where their intellect and ability to learn are not separated from their
feelings and are attended; it also tries to encourage to “learn about their
learning", so to speak.
Students typically sit in a circle, with the
teacher outside the ring. In contrast with the DM, the CLL student’s use their
first language to develop an interpersonal relationship based on trust with the
other students and when they want to communicate in English, they come up with
an idea or conversation topic and the the teacher provide privately to each
student the translation for the target language and grammar structures to teach
them how to communicate in English. When the students feel confortable to speak
they are recorded one by one, until there is a kind of dialogue recorded. The
Teacher then replays the recorded, and transcribes it on the board. This is
followed by analysis, and questions from students. In a subsequent session, the
teacher may suggest activities bounding from the dialogue. This technique is
used over a considerable period of time, until students are able to apply words
in the new language without translation, gradually moving from a situation of
dependence to an independence state.
There are clearly some major problems with
CLL method, for example: It can only be done with small numbers of students; It
has also been pointed out that this is a methodology exclusively suitable for
adult learners, not for children; the students and the teacher have to share a
single mother tongue; the classes are taught spontaneously so a pre-planned
syllabus can’t be used and the teacher needs to translate correctly the target
language; in the beginning some learners find it difficult to speak on tape
while others might find that the conversation lacks spontaneity; the teachers
can find it strange to give our students so much freedom and tend to intervene
too much or in contradiction the teacher efforts to let their students become
independent learners could neglect their needs for guidance.
Still, the CLL method is helpful because
benefits the students in their needs as individuals or group learners; students
tend to appreciate the autonomy CLL offers them and thrive on analysing their
own conversations and pronunciation to be improve and; the class often becomes
a real community, not just when using CLL but all of the time. Students become
much more aware of their peers, their strengths and weaknesses and want to work
as a team.
Through the history of teaching there have
been more methods that were and are still study and apply by TEFL teachers with
the intention of finding a communicative approach to teach English. Depending
on the students needs, all of these methods can provide some helpful tools to
create communicative lessons. For the purpose of particular teaching - that is
not based on the methods or philosophy of a particular company, that may oblige
the teacher to follow their rules - teachers could use some of the advantages
of the methods to design their own personal method that will suit the students’
needs. In my personal opinion, for the purpose of teaching English as a Foreign
Language with the aim of a communicative approach, teachers should tutor their learners
to speak in English with the correct pronunciation of the words and the correct
grammar structures, but they should also encourage them to learn how to write
and read in English in order to acquire a global comprehension and knowledge of
the English language in a realistic context. However the learning of EFL not
only depends on the teacher; if the student wants to learn English he must
study and practice by his own, so he can produce the language and use his new
skills to communicate in this foreign language. The teacher could work as a
facilitator offering the necessary communicative tools and ideas such as: to
watch films, read books, write e-mails and talk o friends in English, to keep
learning and practicing the language in his spare time, because at the end the
acquisition of the English language depend on the efforts of the students.