Leah Cobley





My teaching approach

 How to approach teaching English to TEFL students. Design a method that Incorporates existing methodologies and discuss why this would be the best method.

 

As a TEFL teacher you are always looking for the best method to teach English. It is therefore important to draw upon available resources and existing teaching practices. A teacher should employ the most effective methods of teaching. This is vital to help learners achieve their objectives for learning a foreign language. The main objective of this assignment is to design a successful method which will be beneficial to English Language learners. I will incorporate elements of existing practices and approaches to TEFL teaching. The methods I will be referencing are; Grammar Translation Method (GTM), Audio-lingual Method (AL), Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and Total Physical Response (TPR).

The Grammar Translation method embraces a wide range of approaches but, the language study is seen as a mental discipline. The basic approach is to analyse and study the grammatical rules of the language, usually in an order. The method is very much based on the written word. The rules of grammar are presented through writing sentences and translating it. The text is often accompanied by a vocabulary list. Accurate use of language is central to this approach. Without a sound knowledge of the grammatical basis of the language it can be argued that the learner is only in possession of communicative phrases which are adequate for basic communication. This approach doesn’t allow for free-communication. The students are encouraged to focus more on form and structure.

 

The Communicative LanguageTeaching  Method uses ‘real-life’ situations essential for communication. The teacher sets a situation that students are likely to encounter in real life. Unlike the audiolingual method of language teaching, which relies on repetition and drills, the communicative approach focuses on practical use of the language. The real-life simulations change from day to day. Students' motivation to learn comes from their desire to communicate in relevant ways about relevant topics.

 

The Audio Lingual Method teaches grammatical structure patterns and vocabulary. This is achieved by the repetition and memorising sets of phrases or dialogues. Once students have mastered a dialogue, the teacher introduces new vocabulary, which the students will then substitute for another word in the dialogue. This method is suitable for students who like to learn by formation. There are some short falls; students may become too focused on understanding the grammatical points. This can often hinder the students’ natural fluency when talking.

 

Total Physical Response (TPR) involves the teacher giving more and more complex orders to the students, who then respond with an action. The students then get to order each other and the teacher around for speaking practice e.g; in a restaurant, leaving a phone message, meeting at the airport etc. When used with a group of students, this can also become a very good listening exercise. This method can be problematic if students struggle to understand the concept. It can become frustrating if they are unable to follow the gestures and instructions given by the teacher.

“The primary units of language are not merely it’s grammatical and structural features, but categories of functional and communicative meaning as exemplified in discourse.” Richard and Rogers, p.161, 2001. With this in mind it is fair to say that the method I have designed incorporates elements of grammar and communicative methodologies. It is important for students to have a balance. Grammar is important but it shouldn’t be the main focus. Students may have already been taught a particular grammar point or vocabulary. You don't have to be a linguist but you have to know how explain grammar points in a clear and functional way. Use examples that are relevant and interesting for the student. By giving the students examples they are able to understand how the rules apply in a practical way. Language learning should not be focused on grammar and functions but how to communicate effectively. The most essential thing students need to learn is vocabulary; without vocabulary you have no words to form or to pronounce.

When planning the syllabus, it is crucial that you establish the needs of the students. Why are your students studying English? How will they use English in the future? What do they need to learn? “Many people learn English because they have moved into a target-language community.” Jeremy Harmer, p.11, 2007. An example of this is English for Specific Purposes (ESP).Students may need to learn English for academic or business purposes. Some students may not have a specific requirement, perhaps you should be focusing on useful skills that they may use in the future, but may not be essential.

It is important not to make assumptions. Don’t assume that the textbook you are using contains the language students want to learn. Most textbooks follow the same pattern and include the same major functions, grammar and vocabulary. This can become repetitive for the teacher and the student. It is the teacher's responsibility to add any extra necessary vocabulary, functions, grammar, or topics that you feel the students may want or need. A textbook should be used as additional material and for referencing. Some activities in EFL textbooks fail to work in classroom activities. Many activities must be modified to make them work, and some have to be removed completely. It is essential that you choose a textbook that is communicative and meets the needs of your students.

It is the opinion of many TEFL experts that listening is the most important skill to teach your students. While listening to each other and to the teacher will improve their overall listening ability. Try to expose your students to authentic English in a variety of situations. The students need to understand the relevance of what you are teaching. The best way to do this and the most realistic is through videos. Listening to audio’s in the classroom can improve listening ability, but videos are much more motivating and cultural. Using videos can demonstrate the practical use of the language you are teaching. It is important to make learning fun, especially for young learners. Use games, or activities with a competitive angle. By giving a variety of interesting topics and activities, students will be more motivated and interested, and they are likely to practice more. By incorporating ‘real life’ tasks they will improve more rapidly. Language and culture go ‘hand in hand’. If culture isn't a part of your lessons, then you aren't really teaching language, you are teaching about language. It is important to teach the aspects of pronunciation, but don't suffocate the students with pair drills that cannot be applied to real communication.  A more rational approach is to teach pronunciation in context. Students need to understand the relevance of what you are teaching them. They need to be able to apply the vocabulary in a communicative and real way.

The method I have designed incorporates clear explanation with ‘real life’ examples. Students need to know what they are doing and why. The lessons should be transparent to the students, with a clear organisation. Treat students as individuals, not subjects. Don't patronise or talk down to them. Offer support and positive reinforcement, by doing this communication can take place. It is important to allow time for ‘free communication’. Students should be encouraged to talk freely and not be ‘cut-short’. If the students are engaged in an activity you should allow them to focus on this. It is vital to anticipate student errors and misinterpretations. It is important to make instructions short and clear. Demonstrate rather than explaining whenever possible. Teacher Talk Time should be kept to a minimum. Most lessons should be student-centered, not teacher-centered.

It is important to consider each students individual ability. Language learning is not about academic intelligence; the important thing to stress is that the students are improving. It is essential that you empathise with the students. Positive reinforcement and praise will help their development. Praise your students when they are getting better, and encourage them when they are not doing as well as they can. The role of the teacher is also to be a mentor and offer support. It is important to correct students without affecting their confidence. If you think a student can correct their own mistake, don't supply the correction for them allow for some self-monitoring. It is essential to think about your own teaching. After each lesson is over reflect on the outcome. Was the lesson effective? What were the good and bad points? How could it be improved?

To conclude; the methodology I have chosen incorporates the essential parts of existing and successful methodologies. I believe that TEFL teaching is an ongoing development for the teacher and the students. Communication is key. Students need to be engaged in the subject matter, they need to understand the relevance of what they are learning. The students should not be discouraged at any point. Free communication is vital. The students should feel comfortable in expressing themselves. It is ok for them to make mistakes; this is part of language development. I do feel that Communicative Language Teaching combines the elements I have addressed and chosen to adopt.

 



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