Carla Belnome Barrero





My teaching approach

Teach them and they will forget, demonstrate them and they will understand, involve them and they will remember"

Carla Belnome English Teaching Skills Assignment September 2012

Teaching Skills Assignment

A teacher is nothing without a student. Fortunately there are always people who want to learn. People have studied languages since many years ago. But, why humans want to learn languages?

What motivates people to study a new language?

There is not only reason why students want to learn a language. There are many motives and each learner has its own reason.

Here is a list of different reasons. This is only an approximation, because there are much more reasons:

Ø? Increases job opportunities
Ø? Ability to talk to people overseas
Ø? Understand more about other cultures
Ø? Meet different people
Ø? Impressive to speak more than one language Ø? Learning new things is fun
Ø? Trains new areas of the brain
Ø? To travel abroad

Why is important to consider our students’ motivations?

It is very important to consider what has moved our students to be in our class to learn a new language. These reasons would modify your way or method to teach them.

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But, what is a teaching method?

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When a teacher thinks about how to teach a concrete subject he or she is already creating a teaching method. Usually students think teachers just arrive to the class with some materials, but without any previous thinking. Despite that, it is not like that: all teachers have thought how to teach a determinate topic.

Along the years, there have been many different teaching methods developed to reach the best way to teach English to the students.

Let’s have a look to the different English teaching methods

Actually, there are lots of different methodologies as for example: the Silent way, the Lexical approach, the Community language learning, Suggestopedia, the Direct Method, the Total Physical Response, the Grammar Translation Method... There are also some teachers who are called their methods with their own names as the Callan Method or the Vaughan System.

Here we are going to analyse the most known ones:

Grammar Translation Method

This is one of the most traditional methods. It was originally used to teach the called “dead languages” such as Latin or Greek. In this method there is not spoken communication or listening comprehension.

This system is focused on grammar rules and their applications. Language is learned through rules.

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STRENGHTS

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WEAKNESSES

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? Very focused on grammar. Grammar is taught with extensive explanations.

? The vocabulary is learned by translation to the mother tongue of the learner.

? The teacher is the authority in the classroom.

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? Vocabulary taught in the form of isolated word lists.

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? Focused in accuracy.

? Teacher only translates words to the students. Teacher is not very active in class.

? Easy for the teachers to employ it.

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? Only focused on reading and writing skills.

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? Correct pronunciation is not very important.

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The Direct Method

This method is also known as:

1) The Reform Method
2) The Natural Method
3) The Anti – Grammatical Method 4) The Berlitz Method

It was developed by Maximilian Berlitz at the end of the 19th Century as a reaction to the Grammar Translation Method. It receives “the direct” name because meaning should be connected directly with the target language without translation into the native language of the student.

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STRENGHTS

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WEAKNESSES

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? Use of the language actively in the classroom.

? Teachers can spend too much time and energy to explain the meaning of a word.

? Grammar taught inductively.

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? More audio than visual teaching.

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? Learn a language in a useful knowledge.

? Not sufficient attention paid to reading and writing.

? Focused on speech and listening.

? Not suitable for large classes.

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? Syllabus based on situations or topics.

? Pronunciation correction is very important.

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Total Physical Response

The Total Physical Response is one of the English teaching approaches and methods developed by Dr. James J. Asher. It has been applied for almost thirty years.
This method is based on teaching languages using physical movement. It bases its effort on centring the attention to encouraging learners to listen and respond to the spoken target languages commands of the teacher.

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STRENGHTS

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WEAKNESSES

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? It is fun: stress-free approach to learning a second language.

? Some students might find it embarrassing.

? Teacher doesn’t need lot of preparation.

? Suitable only for beginners levels.

? Suitable to teach basic speaking skills.

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? No writing or reading exercises are done.

? Sentence-based syllabus.

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? Grammar taught inductively.

Suggestopedia

This teaching method was developed by Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgi Lozanov in the 1970s. Its name comes from the union of the words: “suggestion” and “pedagogy”. The main idea of this system is to improve learning by using the power of suggestion. Lozanov says that “the suggestopedia is a system of liberation from the preliminary negative concept regarding the difficulties in the process of learning” that students may have.

The method works on the conscious and on the subconscious levels of human mind in order to teach new vocabulary, concepts, ideas,...

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STRENGHTS

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WEAKNESSES

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? The students feel very comfortable.

? It strongly depends on the trust that students develop towards the method

? The atmosphere in class is really calm and relaxed.

? Students only receive input by listening, reading and musical- emotional backing.

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? The use of music to introduce new concepts.

? Not sufficient attention paid to reading and writing.

Oxbridge system

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Oxbridge was found in 2002 by a team of teachers who wanted to join together their experiences in order to get original and better results on English teaching.
This is a method that is on continuous development. Teachers meet every week to share their experiences and to see how to improve their activities and lessons.

STRENGHTS

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WEAKNESSES

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? Teachers create and share their own materials.

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? Very focused on the audio learning.

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? Lot of preparation from the teachers.

? Students at low stages of the process of learning can get lost easily.

? Focused on listening and speaking skills.

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? No writing exercises.

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? Classes based on three points: Topic

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Structure

Vocabulary

? No text books are used. Authentic material used.

? Function approach of the grammar.

Which is the best method?

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I would not dare to say that there is only one good method. As we have seen all of them have positive, but also negative aspects. In my consideration the clue is to evaluate what kind of students we have and see what have moved them to study English. Once we know our learner’s purposes we can think which method is better to apply.

The problem exists when in a group of students all of them are different and have different reasons why to learn a new language. In that case I would use the most communicative method which would be the Direct Method or the Oxbridge System. Using these methods, students would learn how to express themselves in certain circumstances such as booking a room in a hotel or ordering a meal in a restaurant. These are real situations and that is why these systems are very useful when our students want to be able to communicate.

But if the learners would like to learn who to write correctly in the second language or be prepared to study a course in the new language I would not be sure it these are the right methods, because they don’t focus that much on the writing skill of learning. In that case a grammar based method would be more helpful, because the strength of these systems is that they stress the importance of accuracy when using the new language.

My own method

My goal is to become an English teacher for children, so my method would combine different aspects from various methods previously presented, as The Total Physical Response, the Oxbridge System and the Suggestopedia.

For me it is very important to create a good and comfortable atmosphere in the class. I want my students to feel completely relax and safe. I have taught kids before and

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usually they don’t want to be in class and they want to go with their “mummy”. So it is very important that they feel safe, happy and “why not?” also loved by their teachers.

The decoration of the classroom would play a very important character in this case. It should be painted in happy, active and motivating colours, but at the same time relaxing and calm tonalities. The room would be divided in different spaces: a playground for physical exercises, a place where the tables and chairs would be located for the manual exercises such as: craft, cookery, experiments... and a space with poufs, carpets, blankets and cushions where stories would be read and to listen to music.

My syllabus would be function and vocabulary based. I would focus my lessons on teach my students how to behave in front of different situations and to learn the appropriate vocabulary for those situations. I would like my students to be involved in the action. If we are learning vocabulary of fruit, the best way to learn it would be to cook something with fruit as a fruit salad. In that case students experiment the “necessity” to learn the new vocabulary because they are using it in a real situation.

I think it is very important that children enjoy meanwhile they are learning. Most of the time they learn in a subconscious way while they are playing, listening to music or a story, experimenting...

The teacher would use the repetition, drilling and revision techniques to teach the new vocabulary. In that way learners would keep the new words and by the revision would fix them in their minds and would be able to know when to use them, because they would have learnt them in a real situation.

The groups should be reduced (maximum 8 students), so the teacher could control all of the students and have eye-contact with them. It is very relevant that the teacher can observe all his or her students in order to identify the problems that students may have such as: being tired, shy or bored. In those cases, teacher has to react immediately and response in front of these attitudes.

The material used would be very visual and colourful. Short stories or books would also be used, as well as music and videos. It is important to develop as much children’s senses as possible.

To conclude I would like to leave a phrase that I read once and which I feel particularly agreed:

Teach them and they will forget, demonstrate them and they will understand, involve them and they will remember"

Carla Belnome September 2012 



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