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My teaching approach

Different methodology in English teaching

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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.

 

The Natural Approach is designed to develop basic communication skills in 3 stages:

 Comprehension (preproduction),

 Early Production

 Speech Emergence

 This 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.

 

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