My teaching approach
MY TEACHING APPROACH
Suggestopedia Teaching Theory
English, evidently is one of the most spoken languages in the world. People are Increasingly getting in the learning of English, as it is really important to both the personal and professional level. Learning other languages gives us freedom to travel and communicate with other people in the world, to seek better opportunities in terms of career, or to relocate just for the fun of changing environment. We are exposed to English all the time, through TV, when we watch an advertisement or even when we use our own languages. However, the exposure to English is not enough to learn vocabulary, therefore new methods have to be used. Teaching English is not always easy; you have to engage students in the process of learning and motivate them to get the best results. A variety of methods have appeared in the field of grammar and vocabulary and old methods have disappeared with the pass of the time.
The aim of this essay is to briefly analyse some of the teaching theories in comparison to ESL approach to teaching, with the aim of exploring which approach is more suitable for English learners in order to get them the knowledge they are looking for. The essay will further introduce my opinion about teaching techniques in relation to theories such as Suggestopedia, Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism so as to provide a vivid understanding of the root of “My Teaching Approach”. My approach is based on fluent communication (speaking) and listening, the goal is for students to know how to speak and listen which can be achieved by vocabulary building and constant communication and listening. The general idea here is basically to continually improve the teaching techniques with the help of researches and teachers' opinions.
This theory was developed in 1970’s by a Bulgarian Psychiatrist- educator Georgi Lozanov focusing on a specific set of learning recommendation derived from suggestology. It is based on the idea that people, as they get older, inhibit their learning to conform to the social norms and in order to reactivate the capabilities they used as children, teachers have to use the power of suggestion.
- Learning is facilitated in a pleasant environment
- The more confident the students feel, the better they will learn
- The means of activating the material should be varied and playful
- Dramatization is a way of activating the materials.
Suggestopedia teaching method emphasis on comfortable and relaxed environment for the learners, putting their state of mind free from stress with a classic music and sometimes Yoga sort of atmosphere. The arrangement of the classroom, the use of music and the peripheral learning all aim at delivering advanced conversational proficiency quickly as well as memorization of vocabulary and acquisition of habits of speech related to acts of communication. Learners are expected to absorb what is presented to them while teachers take an authoritative stand whereby learners are most suggestable and present the linguistic material in a way to encourage positive reception and retention by the learners.
Suggestopedia focuses on how to deal with the relationship between mental potential and learning efficacy and it is very appropriate to use in teaching speaking for young language learners. This theory believed that we are capable of learning much more than we think, provided we use our brain power and inner capacities. In addition, suggestopedia assumed that human brain could process great quantities of material if given the right condition for learning in a state of relaxation and claimed that most students use only 5 to 10 percent of their mental capacity. Lazanov created this approach for learning that capitalized on relaxed states of mind which can get learners the memorization 25 times faster rather than conventional methods. Errors are tolerated and home work are limited.
Lazanov argued that learners have difficulties in acquiring English as the second language because of the fear of the students to make mistakes. When the learners are in this condition, their heart and blood pressure raise. He believes that there is a mental block in the learners’ brain (affective filter). This filter blocks the input, so the learners have difficulties to acquire language caused by their fear. The combination of desuggestion and suggestion is to lower the affective filter and motivate students’ mental potential to learn, aiming to accelerate the process by which they learn to understand and use the target language for communication to achieve super learning.
Behaviourism which is also known as learning theory refers to a psychological approach which emphasises scientific and objection methods of investigation. Behaviorism proposes that learning is based on the thought that all behaviors are gained when they are conditioned. The theory also supposes that behavior can be studied in a controlled manner and that we can observe it and it should have nothing to do with introspection because introspection is too subjective
The basic assumptions are:
- All behaviour is learnt from the environment, therefore emphasizes the role of environmental factors.
- Its concerned with observable behaviour as opposed to internal events such as Thinking and Emotion.
- There is little difference in the learning behaviour between humans and animals.
- Behaviour is a result of a stimulus (response), All behaviour no matter how complex, can be reduced to a simple stimulus.
A stimulus is provided
A response is generated.
Reinforcement is provided. (which can be positive or negative)
Cognitivism focuses on the brain and the importance of how humans process and store information to the learning process. Cognitive development is the growth of logical thinking from infancy to adulthood. The underlying concepts of cognitivism involve how we think and gain knowledge. Cognitivism involves examining learning, memory, problem solving skills, and intelligence. It focuses on understanding how problem solving changes throughout childhood, how cultural differences affect the way we view our own academic achievements, language development, and much more.
Cognitivism Classroom application: How learners receive, store and retrieve information in class all depend on the teachers, the responsibility has been given to the teachers. In a classroom environment, there are many variables that influence and contribute to learning. When creating and implementing a learning environment, it is imperative that the teachers not only create a setting that promotes learning, but also take the time to understand each child. Classrooms are widely diverse and complex. Students learn differently and are at various developmental levels. Teachers who properly manage their classrooms and establish expectations will be able to incorporate diverse teaching philosophies and create an excellent learning environment for each student. It is important that teachers create a learning environment that encourages students to do their best and makes learning interesting. This creates a motivational atmosphere within the classroom. There are two factors that are critical to motivate students, value and effort. (Classroom Management) Students must understand that the work they are performing is worthwhile. Value measures the importance of a student's work to himself and others. Effort is the amount of time and energy students put into their work. Understanding the value of academic tasks and the effort needed to complete those tasks can motivate students to perform better in the classroom environment (Classroom Management).
Constructivism is against the standardized curriculum, but instead it promotes curricula customised to the students’ prior knowledge. The theory emphasizes on hands-on problem solving, how learners construct their own meaning by asking questions, develop answers and interact and interpret the environment. In constructivism approach, teachers serve as guides, monitors, coaches, tutors and facilitators. The learning situations, skills, environment, context, etc are realistic and authentic represent the natural complexity of the real world. Constructivism promotes open minded learning experience, different for each learner. Therefore, learning is an internal process that occurs in the mind of an individual.
Constructivism Classroom application: Hands-on activities are the best for the classroom applications of constructivism, critical thinking and learning. Having observations take place with a daily journal helps the students to better understand how their own experiences contribute to the formation of their theories and observational notes, and then comparing them to another students' reiterates that different backgrounds and cultures create different outlooks, while neither is wrong, both should be respected.
Some strategies for classroom applications of constructivism for the teacher include having students working together and aiding to answer one another's questions. Another strategy includes designating one student as the "expert" on a subject and having them teach the class as well as allowing students to work in groups or pairs and research controversial topics which they must then present to the class.
My approach’s goals:
- Skills development with focus on communication and listening.
- Teaching structure with a view to understanding with the aid of repetition, group discussions, role play and pair activities.
- Flexibility, interactive lessons and hands on activities
- Acceptance of creativity,
- End of the week homework
Having looked at the above theories in terms of teaching and learning, I am of the opinion that my teaching approach has a connection to Constructivism with a dash of Suggestopedia. I believe that students learn better in a relaxed environment, it may not have to be too comfortable but enough to free their minds from personal stress. Furthermore, I agree with Lozanov approach of repetition, when vocabularies are constantly repeated over and over again they undoubtedly get printed in the students’ brain thus, input is achieved. Picking some of Constructivism features of creativity and pairs activities and general interaction among the students, I would use, for example, pairs activities or create role play based on the group of vocabularies that was taught in class. In doing so, their memories are planted with those dramatizations and whenever they see those words they will remember how to use them. Therefore, vocabulary is taught using repetition and real life application and the same vocabulary is taught using role play or pairs activities.
- Chit-chats for relaxation
- Quick follow up on the previous lesson
- Introduction to the grammar
- Grammar rules demonstration with the use of posters, video or audio
- Role play, group interactions, activities, or pairs discussions to practice vocabs
- Concept Checking Questions for a quick assessment of input.
- Questions, general discussion on the lesson to wrap up
The structure of the syllabus for my students would focus on hearing and speaking as the primary receptive and productive skills; writing and reading would receive more emphasis at more advanced levels. I would make beginners focus more on grammar rules and vocabulary empowering them to speak a little bit early on, forming basic sentences and conjugating simple verbs. However, only the worst pronunciation errors should be corrected, focusing more on actual grammatical mistakes. Later on, once the beginner has built a considerable base, more attention can be placed on fluency. Finally, on homework, I will give home work at the end of the week rather than every day, wrapping everything taught for the week in order to assess their understanding. After assessing their homework and I notice some setbacks in terms of understanding the lessons, then I will have a reflective moment on where I need to improve reception and retention as well as how to go about it.