My teaching approach
Different methodology in English teaching
Belen Gamo Liceras
As English is the international language,
there is no surprise in having so many millions of people aiming to learn it.
Apart from being a language which is spoken in many countries in Europe and
America as the first language, English has become as important as the mother
tongue in many other countries all over the world. Their endless uses and purposes have driven
people to start learning it at a very young age. The importance of knowing
English has finally become a need, not just a simple part of our education.
From travelling, job opportunities or relationships purposes, the uses of this
international language have no end. It may mean a better job for some people;
it may mean the opportunity to live in a different country, for some others;
and a long etcetera for the rest of the world. The more important English
becomes, the bigger is variety of its students. There are so many different
types of students that just one method of teaching is not enough. Every student
is different, although they can adapt to a certain method of teaching, the
truth is, that there are not the same. Everybody learns at a different pace,
with different motivations or interests. Therefore, not the same methods can be
used to teach different people. That´s
why when it comes to learn a new language, it is a mayor importance matter to
chose the appropriate methodology. This way, both teacher and student, will
make the most of the lesson.
Over the years the specialist in English
tuition have developed different methods, trying to find the best way of
learning English according to specific purposes.
In the 19070´s, there were several
different studies that investigated the order way and form, students acquire a
new language, how they learn and use new grammatical structures or how the
learners not yet proficient in the second language talk. They found there were
similar orders and behaviours in all of them. For instance, the studies showed
that learners can use or follow the same order despite their age or their
nationality when it comes to learn grammar. But there were still many factors
which may affect the process, such as language transfer, overgeneralization or
simplifications. All those parts of the learning process, far from being a
mistake or a bad learning, are considered only different process every student
goes through. They might slow down the learning process but they can also mean
a good help during this process. But the studies showed not only the problems
learners have. They also showed that other factors such as background,
nationality, etc. When a student learns a new grammatical structure? When they
start using it? When do they really understand its use? Those are difficult
questions with not entirely accurate answers. That is why a variety of methods
of teaching where to choose from is so important.
To name some of them, we can mention the communicative approach as one of the
most used nowadays. As the name
implies, it is based in communication. This method tries to get the student to
talk, providing the students with experiences of using the language so they can
learn when to use it. It is based on talking rather than learning. That´s why
it relies on conversation and not so much in grammar. A weak approach would
mean over teaching structures and forms, while a strong approach means that the
students talk to learn instead of learn to talk. As the main advantage of this
method it is the obvious lose of fear when it comes to speak. This is one of
the biggest problems when learning a new language, as the students don´t have
enough confidence to use the language they are learning. So the communicative approach
prompts them to talk, even before learning the structure. It focuses on the
function of the language instead of the form of it. But for not so confident
students or people who need some rules or structures to rely on, it can be a
bit difficult to start with.
As another option we find the direct method. It is similar to the
previous one. It is also based on
conversations, functions rather than structures, with a very little explanation
of the syntax or the grammar. Its aim is to make people talk and learn from
their own conversations. So they use the inductive learning instead of the
deductive one. Then again as useful as it can be when it comes to speak, it can
also be more difficult for low level learners.
On a different approach, we have the silent method, based on prompting the
students to talk without much help from the teacher. The students have to
figure out what to do or say, according with the teacher´s directions. There is
no explanation of grammar and very little structure. This method may help
students to think by themselves and correct their own errors, but it may be
difficult to follow as some students may feel slightly lost on what to say
next, or they might not understand what they have to do.
We also find the Audio-lingual method which aims to use a target language
automatically by forming new habits while speaking. Vocabulary and structures
are presented in dialogues. The students
learn through imitation and repetition. They play different roles controlled by
the teacher who provides a good model for imitation. Students repeat, respond
quickly and accurately.
Natural Approach is designed to develop basic
communication skills in 3 stages:
approach to teaching language has been proven to be particularly effective with
limited English proficient students.
So as we see, there different ways of
learning English, or any other language. Some techniques focus on the grammar
and the structures before they get into the speaking part; while some others
are based on conversations leaving the form and the structures on the side.
As we aid there are many different types of
students with many different needs and purposes to learn. For instance it is
not the same somebody who is forced to learn that someone who wants to learn.
More over it is also not the same somebody who needs to learn for work, or even
to keep their job than a person who wants to learn a new language to travel.
Therefore the teaching method has to be adequate to the students needs.
As a personal opinion I agree with any
communicative method as it makes the students talk. That´s the aim of anybody
who is learning a new language, being able to use it in real life. It is not
just about learning structures and grammar; they also need to know when and how
they have to use it. But students might feel a bit confused with this
methodology as it tends to avoid explanations of the grammar or the structures.
Sometimes students need some rules or translations to get to know the language
before they can use it. That´s why, as a personal point of view, I consider
that a mix of different method is always the best. For instance, to have a class where to show
when and how to use a certain tense and then to show the real life examples
would help students not just to learn few functions but all of them. They would
learn when to apply the rules, why to use a tense or why not. This way, they
would be able to answer “when, where, how, why and who”. Those are basics
questions when it comes to use anything from a new language. They need to understand the reason why we say
things in a way and not other.
Sometimes we just need to adapt to people´s
need. Some people they need to learn English for business, some others need it
for work, and some, just for travelling or for the fun of it. There are many
reasons why they learn, as well as there are many ways of teaching. But in the
end, they all come to the same conclusion. Teaching and learning have to be
intimately connected and a well interaction between teacher and students is
crucial. Not just to be able to understand each other but to keep the students
motivated enough to carry on with the learning.
Finding people´s need anticipating their
problems showing them an interesting way of learning and the positive aspects
of learning a new language; it is basic to keep your students motivated.
As part of that interaction between the
students and the teacher, it is important that the relationship between them is
friendly. A friendly and approachable teacher would be able to teach more
effectively as they have their student´s trust. It is also known as a very
important factor in the learning process. It is not just about rules. It is not
a one way street. It is not a “cut and dry process”. We all have to understand
the learners and anticipate their needs. As well as empathise with them to be
totally able to understand what they want and how they want it. A teacher
should be able to do that. Some of this comes with time. You build up people´s
trust, you get to know your students, and you also get to develop a good
relationship. But to be able to do that, you need to possess some skills, have
the knowledge of the language you are about to teach and be well prepared for
everything. A good trained person, somebody who is qualified and also well
prepared for the class, would be able to solve problems and also to anticipate
them before they come.
So there is not just one side of the story.
In any learning process there are two sides, and if there is no interaction
between them, this process would be long and much harder.