John Fairley





My teaching approach

When discussing the methodology of teaching, and what is the best way to teach, there are a myriad of factors to consider. The most important issue to take into account is your students. For choosing a method the most important thing to consider when analyzing your students is their age. There are certain methods that would work more efficiently with kids where as there are other methodologies that would be more efficient when teaching adults. Now I am in no way saying there are certain methodologies that are not effective for both age groups, I am merely stating that there are certain methodologies that are most efficient with a specific age group. There are three methodologies that I will look at in this paper and they are the: Audio Lingual Method, Suggestopedia and Total Physical Response (TPR). When looking at these methods we will analyze their effectiveness with different age groups, ability to engage the students, and how effectively it balances between receptive and productive skills. Following this analysis I will present an idea of what I think would be an efficient way of teaching.

 

The Audio Lingual Method was my least favorite method. The technique is very limited in that it does not require the students to explore the second language in any form, making it their sole responsibility to repeat what the teacher has said and has wrote on the board. The method does very little to keep the students engaged in a creative way and does very little to grab their attention. This method consisted of the teacher having a dialogue written on the board and then the teacher and students repeating the dialogue over and over again to each other. Now this technique would work brilliantly if every dialogue in the world followed a script; if this were the case then these students would have no problem passing off as a native speaker when purchasing a pair of hiking shoes. My point is that teaching this way gives the students a very limited exposure and understanding of how a language works. This class was also quite boring. I felt as though I was about to fall asleep whilst watching the seven-minute video. The reason for this is because it was seven-minutes of everyone repeating the same phrase over and over with obvious disinterest in the phrase at hand. Despite this methods various drawbacks, there are some great ideas that can be taken from this and applied to other teaching techniques. One method that is worth pointing out is chain questioning. This is when student A asks a question to student B, student B then responds in kind and then proceeds to ask student C a similar question. This cycle would continue until everyone has had a chance to ask and respond. This is a great way of engaging the students; checking for comprehension and also having the students use the new structure or vocab so they are even more likely to remember the material. This class does a good job when it comes to engaging the students but what it lacks is interesting material and techniques. This method develops students receptive skills rather well because the students are constantly reading off the board and their listening skills are developing but not as efficiently as possible. They are able to listen to the teacher well enough but it may be because they are being exposed to the same dialogue for one class. The development of the students’ productive skills are lacking in this method. The students are seemingly only able to reenact the scripted dialogues that are gone over in class and their writing abilities are not tested in this method. It could be assumed however that the students do know how to write considering how often they are required to read. This technique would not be ideal for any teaching group but it could be manageable with a group of adults. If children were involved then this method wouldn’t be able to keep the kids engaged and interested enough for them to pay attention.

 

The Suggestopedia method is an interesting method. There are certain aspects that I really like about it but the bulk of the course I do not like. My initial impression of the method is that it teaches a very selective branch of English, in that they don’t cover any negative subjects. I can understand that they would want to provide their students with a very positive and relaxing environment, but life does not consist of only positive experiences and there are bound to be numerous occasions when the students would need to deal with a negative experience. And when that negative experience comes in an English speaking country, they won’t have the vocabulary, and potentially the structure, to effectively handle the situation. This alone is a huge drawback to the system for me. The reason I choose to talk about this method is because of the role-playing that the course does. This was a huge attraction for me. It even seems like something that would be fun to do outside of class when on a trip with some friends. The idea of role-playing is a good idea on many different levels. First of all this is a great way for the students to forget their troubles and gets them to focus solely on the task at hand and who it is that they are supposed to be. The fact that they are busy focusing on who they are supposed to be, almost completely eliminates the possibility that they may be thinking about something unrelated to class. By role-playing the students are engaged in the class and are invested in an experience that requires them to use various vocabulary and structures that they may encounter in the real world. The aspect of role-playing allows the students to interactively engage one another and use their imagination to make the class fun for everyone. This class doesn’t seem to focus on reading very much but it does an excellent job developing a student’s listening skills due to the amount of engaging dialogue that occurs in class. The same is true with a student’s writing and speaking skills. Their writing skills seem to be undeveloped but their speaking skills should be developed nicely. This methodology can be effectively taught to both adults and kids if it focuses heavily on the role-playing aspect and is not selective on broaching only positive subjects.

 

Total Physical Response is a methodology that seems to me to be geared towards teaching children. This technique is reminiscent to that of Simon Says. The teacher pantomimes an action while saying it. The teacher then asks the students to mimic the teacher while repeating the phrase. This is a brilliant strategy for kids. The kids are not only keeping themselves entertained and having fun, but they are also learning at the same time. It is essentially learning made fun! The only potential drawback is that the teacher doesn’t seem to focus so much on the production of the language but rather on focusing on the receptive skills on the students. The reason I say this is because when the teacher is checking the students for comprehension, he doesn’t ask them to speak but rather to show him a response by using the gesture that they learned that coincides with the phrase. This shows that they have great listening skills but leaves their speaking skills untested. I am not sure if this is a result of the students being kids and that they are not expected to be able to repeat what he said. This technique is obviously great for kids but for adults it is lacking in that it is limited in its ability to teach more complex sentence structures and vocabulary that is expected to be taught to adults.

 

If I were teaching kids I would enact the TPR method, especially if they are a low level. If the students are a high level and are able to carry conversations then I would be inclined to include role-playing into my lesson and have that be meat of the lesson. If I am teaching adults I would include role-playing into my plan but I would also be integrating the chain questions technique. I would incorporate this technique near the beginning of class and would use it to reinforce structure and vocab with the students before they begin the role-playing. The students would learn the new vocab and structure through examples. I would say a sentence to demonstrate what they are learning and ask them to create another sentence using the same structure or vocab. This way they would be able efficiently utilize the new vocab and structure with the new characters that they are for that day. In order to make sure that the students are able to develop their reading and writing skills I would provide each of them with a sheet that would give a background of each new character that is introduced during the roleplaying session for the day. Students would also be encouraged to take notes of their own about certain events or activities. This hybrid of methods would allow me to effectively teach the student what is necessary for them to advance their understandings of English and it would also allow them to become very familiar with speaking English in various scenarios thus exposing them to all kinds of experiences that they may encounter in the real world.



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