Patricia Picó





My teaching approach

 

Compare and contrast several different teaching methods and approaches by considering their effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson. (1500 words). consider:

 

Approach to learning

Approach to teaching

Goals of the students

Organisation of the syllabus

Teacher’s attitude and behaviour

Personal opinion

 

When  we talk about communicative lesson,  this es related to the idea where learning language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning.Studies have proven the value in active learning, claiming that the learning is usually at a stronger level as a result.In addition, learners have more incentive to learn when they have control over not only how they learn but also what they learn.A communicative lesson should involve learners in real communication because then,they  will use their natural strategies for language acquisition and this will allow them to learn it. In this lessons there may be  more emphasis on skills than systems, and more learner-centred.

 

There are several types of methods in order to be able to learn a language, and from one to another we find  big differences.

 

To start with it would be necessary to establish a little classification depending on the structure that the method understands  as better for the students to learn; having said this, we find  structural methods, and  interactive ones.There would be three principal views at this level:

 

1.The structural view, where  language is understood as a system of structurally related elements to code meaning (Grammar and Audio-lingual methods).

 

2.The functional view that sees language as a vehicle to express or accomplish a certain function(oral approach / situational language teaching).

 

3.The interactive view sees language as a vehicle for the creation and maintenance of social relations, focusing on patterns of moves, acts, negotiation and interaction found in conversational exchanges(Direct method, Silent Way, Suggestiopedia, Communicative language teaching among many others).

 

With the Interactive view methods  teachers must create a healthy, lively, and respectful environment for learning and to achieve objectives as  students to become engaged in the learning process, classes to be fun and meaningful. Here, teachers search for a  positive and respectful relationships with students that in order to  allow them to learn more effectively from the teacher and also allow teachers to learn from them. On the other hand, in  the structural methods students learn throughout rules which consist of a domain, range, and procedure other than the students active participation I the learning process.

 

From my point of view, the structural methodologies, far from encouraging communication seek for a very specific purpose instead of looking forward to a whole language concept understanding which will allow students to use the language freely in any kind of context or situation.

 

Let's first to compare the two structural methods.

 

 If we think about  Grammar translation methods, we talk about a  student who mainly learns though comparisions with the structure of the first language. The most developed skills in that kind of learning would be reading and writing ,clearly differing from the other structulal method, the  Audio-lingual method ,ALM, which arose as a direct result of the need for foreign language proficiency in listening and speaking, and where the printed word must be kept away from the second language learner as long as possible.

 

I do agre with this specific idea of ALM, but I also believe that  one of the most well-known aspects of audio-lingualism, the repetition drill, wouldn't be just enough for students to develop the whole meaning of a language. Maybe for beginners and to use in individual lessons. We can say that the student is left here with quite poor free interaction and too many on the teacher part, and   have little or no control on their own output. This type of activity is in opposition to the communicative language teaching.

 

Continuing with the explanations about Grammar translation, the students focus on learning the rules of grammar and their application in translation passages  from the native language to the target language. Vocabulary in TL (Target Language) is learned from direct translation from the NL (Native Language).

 

 The Direct method and  the Audio-lingual one, would be both ones of the opposites methods regarding this idea, thinking that  any language must  be taught without using the students' native language to explain new words or grammar in the target language. However, unlike the direct method, the audio-lingual method didn’t focus on teaching vocabulary. Rather, the teacher drilled students in the use of grammar, and on that both Grammar translation and ALM do agree.

 

Grammar translation has a structural syllabus ,as it also has the ALM, which consists of a list of grammatical items, usually arranged in the order in which they are to be taught”. The modern syllabuses differ from the structural syllabus because their focus is on the communicative approach. If we seek for a  communicative approach, which we do, we look fordward to creating a notional-functional syllabus where instruction is not organized in terms of grammatical structure, as had often been done with the audio-lingual method(ALM), but instead in terms of "notions" and "functions."

In notional-functional syllabus, a "notion" is a particular context in which people communicate. A "function" is a specific purpose for a speaker in a given context. Proponents of the notional-functional syllabus claimed that it addressed the deficiencies they found in the ALM by helping students develop their ability to effectively communicate in a variety of real-life contexts.

In my opinion, grammar transltation approach basically teaches students about the structures or processes in  a second language, but not how to use it, and this would be also its weakness.Speech is neglected, and this is not today's thoughts about the best way to learn a language, as what is needed is people able to understand and speak a second language  with fluency in many different and unexpected situations.

 

The communicative approach would be clearly the opposite to the most estructural ones. Communicative language teaching (CLT), also referred to as communicative approach, would be the approach to the teaching of second and foreign languages that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. It means learning a language through genuine communication. Historically, CLT has been seen as a response to ALM, and as an extension or development of the notional-functional syllabus.

 

Communicative teaching is based on the believe that  an effective knowledge of a language is more than merely knowing vocabulary and rules of grammar and pronunciation, as it could be thought by other rigid structural language learning methodologies. Learners need to be able to use the language appropriately in any business or social context.

 

Grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary are, of course, necessary parts of effective communication(as enforced by Structural methods), they are not neglected, but in this case, with the communicative method most teachers feel that grammar will be naturally discovered through meaningful communicative interaction and not as a consequence of learning only and basically through the imposition of grammar itself.

 

Continuing with examples of  methods which believe that language learning shouldn't be focused only on  impositions by the only teacher's part, and which call upon  other much more psychological positions, we find others  called alternative methods in terms of a 'humanistic' approach on the one hand, and in terms of 'proprietary interests' on the other . One of this would be the Suggestiopedia method, that consists in a methodology where teachers should not act directive (opposite to, for example the ADM), although this method is teacher-controlled but not students-controlled. For example, they should act as a real partner to the students, participating in the activities such as games and songs “naturally” and “genuinely. Although there are many techniques that the teachers use, the factors such as “communication in the spirit of love, respect for man as a human being, the specific humanitarian way of applying there ‘techniques’” etc.  are crucial.Suggestopedia not only distinguishes between active and passive modes of using music and other related techniques . It also emphasises the importance of activities preceding the 'concert' session. A typical lesson begins with strategies to get students to relax, to have fun, and to interact with the teacher and other students

 

Supporters to this method claim that the effect of the method is not only in language learning, but also in producing favorable side effects on health, the social and psychological relations, and the subsequent success in other subjects. On the other hand, suggestopedia has been called a "pseudo-science". It strongly depends on the trust that students develop towards the method by simply believing that it works. Another point of criticism is brought forward the ones who claim that the students only receive input by listening, reading and musical-emotional backing, while other important factors of language acquisition are being neglected. Furthermore, several other features of the method, like the 'unconscious' acquisition of language, or bringing the learner into a child-like state are questioned by critics. In my opinion, this is more a method for teaching memorisation techniques than any good for language acquisition.

Suggestopedia involves two important connections to the CLT approach. Firstly, the acquisition of vocabulary takes place in meaningful contexts of activity as part of a process of progressive reinforcement. Secondly, the use of interactive dialogues in the initial phase of the lesson provides a means to an end. This contrasts with the way that TSM goes in the opposite direction from 'passive' to 'active' modes of learning, and from 'written' to 'spoken' modes of language usage.

Another of the alternative called methods, which emphasises the autonomy of the learner, would be the Silent way. Whereas the goal of Suggestopedia is the teacher-directed acquisition of a target language, a central purpose of TSM is to facilitate active student learning..

In TSM, the teacher's role is to monitor the students' efforts, and the students are encouraged to have an active role in learning the language. Pronunciation is seen as fundamental; beginning students start their study with pronunciation, as it could be one of the principles in the Communicative teaching learning, and much time is spent practising it each lesson. The Silent Way uses a structural syllabus, and structures are constantly reviewed and recycled. The choice of vocabulary  is important, with functional and versatile words seen as the best.  Translation(GTM) and rote repetition(ALM) are avoided and the language is usually practiced in meaningful contexts (Communicative approach). Evaluation is carried out by observation, and the teacher may never set a formal test. The general goal of the Silent Way is to help beginning-level students gain basic fluency in the target language, with the ultimate aim being near-native language proficiency and good pronunciation.

The Silent Way uses a structural syllabus but these structures are chosen for their propositional meaning, not for their communicative value.

Silent Way teachers use some specialized teaching materials.The teacher's task is to focus the students' attention, and provide exercises to help them develop the language facility; however, to ensure their self-reliance, the teacher should only help the students as much as is strictly necessary . One of the hallmarks of the method is the use of Cuisenaire rods, which can be used for anything from introducing simple commands to representing abstract objects such as clocks and floor plans. The method also makes use of color association to help teach pronunciation. In my opinion, this can be useful but this could be a slow method for students with high language level.

Students are encouraged to actively explore the language being this the similarity between interactive methods. On the other hand,these particular methods represent opposite perspectives on the connection between 'acquisition' and 'learning'. Whilst a central focus of Suggestopedia is the memorisation of a vast vocabulary, TSM encourages students to actively and consciously take control of their own learning, being that the common believe with what, in my opinion, would be one of the most complete way of learning a new language, the communicative approach.

Another key difference is that while Suggestopedia is dependent on the teacher as facilitator, TSM is more student focused. However, this is not the simple opposition typically represented in a contrast between ALM and CLT. TSM teachers need to be sensitive to the times when intervention and correction are appropriate or required. In contrast, the teacher role in Suggestopedia is more that of a facilitator of learning rather than an authoritative repository of 'knowledge'.

It would be a gross oversimplification to say that TSM is a 'communicative' reframing of ALM techniques. Yet, in terms of a contrast with Suggestopedia, it might be helpful to view TSM as moving in a direction from the pole of ALM towards that of CLT; also, from a 'written' to a 'spoken' perspective about language use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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