My teaching approach
The idea of learning a new language may seem scary. Starting from the grammatical rules all the way to the phonetic ones. So many new words to learn, and the fear of not being understood by native speakers. People to say that learning languages is sort of like learning a new career. unless you're willing to put the necessary effort into learning new language you may want to learn, it would be very hard to achieve without any motivation.
Some people have to learn language for work related issues, where motivation may not be present. end these cases, if the teacher that's teaching the new language is not doing so in an appealing manner, the students may have a hard time learning the language. it is not impossible to learn new languages, and in fact it's been proven by millions of people that it is possible to learn not only one language, but multiple languages throughout a person's lifetime, where there's a will there's a way.
However this doesn't mean, that learning a new language should not be enjoyable, the more enjoyable learning a language is the better and more motivated students will be to learn.
However through my own experiences and what I have learnt on this course, I have found there are many other ways languages can be learnt which are more enjoyable and more effective. As a result my personal approach to teaching takes into account many different factors to do with learning that include all the linguistic branches, such as morphology, phonology, phonetics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and sociolinguistics.
The first teaching approach, would have to consider the students’ needs and their goals considering their language level first, of course. Without knowing their goals we can’t focus on why they are doing it for; this is important, as if they just want to learn english so they can attend international meetings as they are a lawyer for example, and they really want to be able to defend themselves in their new language, we need to keep reminding them why they should keep going and motivating them based on their visions or goals.
Obviously goals are gonna be different for kids teens and adults. Kids and teens are not usually self-motivated, they are usually learning a new language because their parents want them to, to enhance their future opportunities. So the approach to them would be more game based, to gather in their attention and keep them happy and motivated so they canopen up their minds to learning.
This approach should be done with a consistency of at least 2 classes between 60 and 90 minutes per week, depending on the level and the time schedule of each student. It is always better to study less but more regularly, as it can be a little overwhelming, especially for beginners to learn a new language, and we do not want to discourage them since the beginning.
Also material would be flexibly adapted to the students’ interests and topics, also adding a bit of my own material to bring in some unknown situations, so the student can get used to more complex conversations that do not always involve their preferences, to prepare their cognitive abilities to their new language.
Building rapport with the student is the most essential thing, once their goals are accomplished, as building rapport means they will have some sort of confidence in you, being more comfortable in class. Thus the student would be more relaxed into their chair, believing more in themselves.
This would be done by encouraging them, and despite their mistakes, making them believe in themselves to keep their self esteem and motivation high at all times, praising them and not making them fear about speaking out.
In my humble opinion, the ability to speak and understanding a language is the most important thing when it comes to dominate a language, as human communication not only now a days, but it has predominately been through words or distinctive sounds throughout history, and up until recent history foreign people used to learn phonetically, by listening and speaking.
Kids learn that way too, you could say it is the natural way. Of course there are different rules in every language you have to follow, however, rules mean barriers, barriers to learning, of course it is always good for the students to know them, so they can be aware while they are conversing.
The natural way should be encouraged similarly to the Oxbridge method, as if the students translate literally word by word what they are learning, yes they will know the meaning and process it, however this in my opinion would create a little confusion, and having to rely on your mother tongue to process your learnt words back to the language they are learning.
This is why teaching the some target language between 4-7 words every lesson, would be ideal, by explaining them their meaning using simpler words of the second language, thus obtaining visualization in their new language, making them think directly in let’s say english; when people start thinking in their new tongue, their mindset starts changing, and their capacity to think and react in the mentioned language is greatly improved.
Visual techniques as well as kinesthetic(such as the communicative method) approaches would be encouraged in the teaching method added to the constant hearing of english, as well as some games/ role plays so all students can get all of the different types of language learning absorption, as not everyone likes or is capable of learning with the same techniques; for example some individuals may be able to learn twice as fast visually than orally.
In my opinion it is essential that students are constantly exposed to different environments, it has been proven that the constant change of environment to our work or studying habits increases productivity, so a good approach to this method would be to change place, timing and overall exposure and structure of the class, as well as the teachers, to get used to all the main different accents (like already happens in the oxbridge method) every four weeks or so; so the do not fall in the routine; routine is what kills improvement in my opinion, that’s why beginners always see huge improvements, why? Because they are in the ‘beginning’ of something new and different.
As in the syllabus and the class structure, I do coincide with the Oxbridge method, by using and starting of with the vocabulary and structure first, however this is the Aitor method, where the routine should be changed according to how the student feels and how the teacher believes should be better for both, depending on the day and depending on the activities, mood and enthusiasm as well as the objectives of the individual at the exact time. The teacher will not prepare the same class with an extroverted marketing person as to an introverted shy designer.
It is true that in doing the topic after the ‘grammar’ the students can use learned language techniques and phrases in the topic. Nevertheless, starting off with the topic can be very beneficial, as it just creates fluency to the class, and already gets the student engaged for the rest of the class, specially if the topic is of interest to the person who’s going through it.
Using lots of cognates for beginners would be very essential in the Aitor’s method, as that way they will feel like they know more english than they actually thought they would, which would encourage them to carry on with more or the same enthusiasm they started to learn with.
Classes shall not be very difficult or heavy on the mind, specially for beginners, as people would take this classes in between their jobs, so they would not only use it for learning the language, but also as a relaxation, and perhaps a stress relieving hour or hour and a half; perhaps not so much for the very beginners, but for those who can conduct a conversations in the new tongue, would do most of the talking, in lower levels an 60/40 to the student ratio would be encouraged, for the student to be as active and proactive as possible, however a student with a very low level cannot carry or take over the conversation, and if they did do most of the talking, they would not be able to concentrate enough to get the details of the grammar, vocab or even the pronunciation; however in the higher levels, a ratio of 80/20 would be encouraged, so the teacher can assess and grade at what level they are at, and regarding their level, the teacher could or could not be harsher in correcting the students’ mistakes, so they can refine their english skills.
All in all, everyone has their own method of learning, and there are many different kind of teachers and learners. Nonetheless, I want Aitor’s teaching method to be efficient effective, but mostly entertaining and educational/ informational. I don’t just want the topics or vocabulary to be plain old boring and dull. I want to specialise the topics to the needs and likes of each student, making them feel that they got more than they expect for.