3 years of teaching by the Direct Method (2012-2015)
120 hour Oxbridge TEFL certificate (2016)
BA in Social and Cultural Anthropology
My teaching approach
My teaching approach
Reasons for learning English as a Second language can vary between every student. Students might want to learn it for a vacation, a job or for specific purposes, but in any of the cases, the main goal of studying a Second language is usually an outcome of being able to communicate it. Therefore I believe that the communicative approach of teaching English is the way to go.
I am a native Latvian speaker and I learned English at a young age. I can also speak Spanish and have a basic knowledge of Russian. Having experienced many different approaches of studying these languages, I have had the opportunity to evaluate them and figure out the approach that I find the most affective. My methodology is very much informed by the Direct Method - I emphasize the speech fluency, use only English in the classroom and teach grammar inductively.
A syllabus of a course is crucial in order to properly organize tasks and keep a track of student’s progress. It is also necessary to constantly revise and recycle the old material, such as vocabulary and sentence structures. I believe that lessons that are task-based let the student learn more naturally, of course the task-based syllabus and activities should also be monitored by the structure and vocabulary that is being used. I believe that from the four Macro language skills – reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking and writing- the main accent should be put on speaking and listening, the speech fluency being emphasized, so that the students are able to express their ideas, opinions and concepts. Listening skills are important to understand what others are saying - a skill extremely necessary in real life situations. I consider reading and writing as secondary skills that are mastered later on, when the students have reached a recognizable level of grammatically correct speaking skills. I teach entirely in English, also encouraging students to use only English in the classroom, which will help them avoid translations between their mother tongue and Second language, also allowing them to think in the Second language. The grammar is taught inductively, unless the grammatical explanation is absolutely necessary. It is also necessary to practice pronunciation and spelling as well as continuously broadening their vocabulary.
I find the Oxbridge lesson plan very well structured. It is made so that the students can work on all the skills that are necessary to communicate in the Second language. It is based on the ESA model, meaning first we Engage, then we Study and at the end we Activate what we have learned. I believe that it is very useful to balance all the necessary skills - a topic activity to have something interesting to talk about, a structure activity to learn how to organize words and build sentences and a vocabulary activity to be able to express the ideas freely. I like to use realia and talk about current events, so that the students stay engaged and can also apply their knowledge in real conversations.
My role as a teacher
I believe that the role of a teacher is to help the students achieve their goals. Being always prepared is absolutely necessary in order to have productive lessons. I also believe that the teacher needs to be very flexible when it comes to teaching different students. Although most of the students’ goal is to learn how to communicate in the Second language, every student and their needs differ and they learn at a different pace, therefore every one of them is in a need of a slightly unique approach. The teacher should notice what works best for each student or group and make sure to put it into practice. I believe that the teacher is also responsible of class dynamics, the engagement of students and continual growth and progress. A teacher can have many different roles in the classroom, for example, being a guide and leading the students to achievements, as well as being a playmaker and making sure that the students themselves are the ultimate achievers of their goals. I also consider a constant reflection on oneself an absolutely necessary tool of success.
The students’ roles
Students’ roles can differ depending on their motivations. Affective factors are their ability to take risks, to think about how to learn and willingness to ask questions. But I believe that it is also the teacher’s task to make sure that the students are self-managers in the classroom - that they are communicators, doing most of the speaking in the class, and constantly being engaged in trying to make themselves understood.
“And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!” - Dr. Seuss
I believe that the motivation is crucial ingredient of success once someone has made a step of learning a new language. Even though the motivation primarily comes from the student, there are many ways how the teacher can promote it. During my classes I try to be enthusiastic and create an optimistic environment. I praise my students, encourage them, and I create reasonable expectations, knowing that all of these factors can change their experience and outcomes of studying English as a Second language.
Younger learners have different factors of motivation. Children mostly do not see learning English as a need; their motivation can be promoted by having fun and entertaining environment to acquire language more spontaneously. In the case of younger students the attention can be held by visual stimuli and interactive games, the Total Physical Response can be used as one of the methods, as well as the verbal drills from the Direct Method.
The approach of teaching also varies depending on different levels of knowledge. The lower level students need more visual approach, mimes and gesticulation in order to avoid complicated and confusing explanations. The teacher’s language should be graded in order not to frustrate students. It might be more challenging to teach students without prior knowledge, but it is also very rewarding, since the progress of those students is seen more rapidly. Whereas higher level students should be constantly encouraged to orally express their thoughts and opinions.
I believe that the assessment is only necessary to let the teacher evaluate the proposed goals and see where the adjustments and improvements should be made. I will use a formative assessment as a tool to see if the learning goals have been met. It will be carried out by assessing the students orally to see their comprehension and speech level, as well as with written exercises. The assessment can be carried out through regular class activities, making sure that students are meeting the set goals.