Emily Stanford





My teaching approach

Emily Stanford
5/26/12


Fundamentals Module-Essay

There are several different teaching methods for language learning, the ones I’m going to discuss are: The Berlitz Method, Grammar Translation Method and the Silent Method.  Each method differs in their learning and teaching approaches, as well as different classroom environments to reach their different language learning goals.  All of these methods I think are effective depending on your way of learning and your language goals.  By comparing and contrasting these methods I am going to explain their effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson.
First I am going to discuss the goals of each method for their students.  The Berlitz Methods goals are mostly focused on building oral skills.  It believes that a student must master speaking and listening before they can read and write their target language.  Whereas the Grammar Translation Method is quite the opposite, its goal is to have the students reading, writing and translating with no focus on oral abilities, only on grammar abilities.  The Silent Methods goal is for the student to guess and work so hard for the words that they remember them better, but it is also oral because there is speaking during the class.
These methods then use their unique teaching approaches to apply these goals.  The Berlitz Method has a direct method of teaching, which is only using the target language in the class room, it is a total immersion of the student into the target language with no use of their mother tongue while in the classroom.  The teachers attitude is very patient, upbeat with a lot of talking and listening, there is not a big difference between the student and the teacher they are both talking and teaching each other in a way.  Also error is noticed but then used as a learning lesson to show how to say and use it correctly it is not harshly punished, but learned from.  They also use hand gestures, facial expressions, props and visual aids to help the student understand the language and the situation to use it in correctly.  The Grammar Translation Methods teaching approach is little to no talking so the student does not acquire verbal skills.  The teacher has the students read in the target language then translate into their mother tongue. The teachers are very focused on grammer and mistakes are noticed and corrected exactly.  They teach using a lot of gap fill activities, exams and translation assighnments.  The teachers attitude is more strict and focused of error correction, also with a lot of speaking in their mother tongue, such as directions for assignments would be explained in their mother tongue not in the target language.  The Silent Methods teaching approach is very unique, the teachers role is to be as silent as possible.  The point is for the teacher is to guide the student silently to figuring out the words they want to use. The teacher first says the word of phrase just one time then the student try’s to repeat it back to the teacher.  They use props and finger couting for an example to show the student where the error is in what they have said and where they need correction, then the student try’s to correct that part, then say it again correctly all together.
Using these teaching methods, the point is that the student learns the language in the way intended by the method, this is where the learning approaches are applied.  With The Berlitz Method the student is surrounded by the language, so this total immersion into the target language is suppose to expose him to all the situations he might use the language in, so they will be prepared to use the language correctly when put in that situation themselves.  It also helps very much with pronunciation, they are listening and speaking so they hear the word and how to pronounce it properly, then practice repeating the word properly.  They learn the structures not realizing by speaking the language but not why they are applied until they have mastered speaking and listening.  Then they are taught grammar and structures.  With the Grammar Translation Method the student is given assighnments to complete such as, gap fill activities and translation activities. They learn the vocabulary and grammer structures of the language but with little verbal pratice or listening to the language used.  They are also spoken to by their teacher in their mother tongue so they are not exposed to the pronunciation of the language. The Silent Method has the students guessing the words while the teacher is as silent as possible.  The idea is that the student trys so hard to guess the words and get it right that they will remember this word more.  Also with the visual aids there to help them guess later will give them something visual to connect the meanings to in their minds.  They are also like the Berlitz method learning how it is used but not why.  The teacher says the word or phrase once and then continues to have the class/student guess what he just said with hints such as props.  
All of these methods are different but I am going to compare them to their effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson.  A communicative lesson by definiton wants the student to have the ability to use the language effectively for communication, the idea is that the student talks to learn not learns to talk.  So I will start with the Berlitz Method, in my opinion this is the best method for effective communative learning.  In this method that’s all the student does is talk to learn.  The total immersion into the language also helps them know how to use the language in the right situations, by giving them real life examples.  I also think by practicing so much in the classroom, that when they need to use the language outside they will be more prepared and have more confidence to understand the pronunciation and pronounce better themselves to be more easily understood.  This approach is the most effective for a communative learning lesson in my opinion.  The Grammar Translation method in my opinion is the worst I have dicussed for a communicative  learning lesson.  This method does not focus on any kind of verbal skills so how could it be useful for verbal communicaton?  They know how to read and write from the target language into their mother language but this would not help them learn the experience of learning a language as the communative approach calls for. This would only be helpful for written communication such as emails, writing a CV, or a business proposal, something like this.  They know why the grammatical structures are there but not how to use them orally.  Now, the Silent Method, in my opinion this method is actually good for a communative lesson, however I think there is room for debate.  I think the silent method would be good for communication because they are at least speaking.  After the teacher says the word or phrase well on time as an example then the student is trying to repeat it correctly, so there is talking to lean which applies for a communicative approach.  They are trying so hard for the language that they do remember it.  Also with the props and examples they are learning how to use the language in real life situations and when its appropriate which also applies to a communicative approach.  But I also believe that they cant be learning too much because the teacher is silent they are not practicing the language with anyone just speaking it but with no answers back.  Also it would probably only work for a P2 MAYBE P3 level I think a more advanced level would not benefit from this method.  Another con is that is a very slow method, not the right method to use if you need to learn the language fast.  Like I said I think it is alright for a communicative lesson, but its debateable.  
My conclusion to this essay is that the Berlitz Method is the most effective method for a communicative lesson approach.  But also I think there are good points for the Grammar Translation and Silent Method.  The Grammar Translation if someone did not need to acquire the verbal skills for their reason for learning the language then that’s good.  Maybe they just need to acquire the grammatical and vocabulary skills for writing and translating, then this would be the method best for them to use to learn and meet their goals and fully understand the grammatical structure of the target language.  The silent method as well, depending on the level of the student and how they learn and what their goals are they might think this approach is better for their reasons and styles.  So in my opinion all of these methods are effective but as you can see not all are the most effective for a communative lesson approach.  Depending on your needs you should choose a method that suits you best. 


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