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.
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.
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 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.