Agnieszka Malgorzata Tulwin





My teaching approach

Teaching Skills Module Assignment         Agnieszka Tulwin

There are numerous methodologies in the world of teaching English, all of which have some good and bad aspects. In this essay I will try to compare and contrast the main methods and try to decide what in my opinion is the most beneficial to the students.

In the Grammar Translation Method (GMT) learners are taught in their mother tongue with little oral production of the target language. It is one of the most traditional methods. The goal of the GMT is to provide the learners with the knowledge of English language that would enable them to read literature in its original form. The basic approach is to analyse and study the grammatical rules of the language, usually in an order roughly matching the traditional order of the grammar of Latin, and then to practise manipulating grammatical structures through the means of translation both into and from the mother tongue. The method is very much based on the written word and texts. The advantages of the GMT are as follows: Translation is the easiest way of explaining meanings or words and phrases from one language into another. Any other method of explaining vocabulary items in the second language is found time consuming. Teacher’s labour is saved as in the majority of cases textbooks and already-prepared materials are used. The focus is taken away from the teacher and put onto the student and written exercises. The disadvantages of the GMT are as follows:  It is an unnatural method. The natural order of learning a language is listening, speaking, reading and writing. That is the way how the child learns his mother tongue in natural surroundings. But in the Grammar Translation Method the teaching of the second language starts with the teaching of reading. Thus, the learning process is reversed. This poses problems. Speech is neglected. The Grammar Translation Method lays emphasis on reading and writing.

According to the Berlitz Method (BM) all foreign language teaching should occur in the target language only, with no translation and an emphasis on linking meaning to the language being learned. The general goal of the Berlitz Method is to provide learners with a practically useful knowledge of language. They should learn to speak and understand the target language in everyday situations. It is very different to the Grammar Translation Method, in which the foreign concept or idea is first translated into the mother tongue and then understood.  As opposed to the GTM, the BM inhibits the use of the mother tongue. In my opinion the advantages of the BM are as follows: It is a natural method which teaches the second/foreign language in the same way as one learns one’s mother tongue. Pupils acquire fluency in speech and are quick at understanding spoken English. Also this method is based on sound principles of teaching English education: It believes in introducing the particular before general, concrete before abstract and practice before theory. The disadvantage of the BM is that language learning involves acquisition of skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing and the BM concentrates on listening and speaking but not reading and writing. The students might not acquire an adequate command over written language.

The Communicative Approach (CA) to language teaching stresses the importance of communication and interaction among the pupils and between the teacher and the pupils to learn a foreign language. Rather than repeating mechanically dialogues or grammar rules learnt by heart, the CA encourages pupils to use the target language in semi-authentic contexts. This approach also values the pupils' personal experiences outside the classroom as a way to facilitate their learning in the lesson. So most of the tasks of this approach demand that pupils work in pairs or in groups and discuss different aspects of their lives ,placing a great emphasis on helping students use the target language in a variety of contexts and places great emphasis on learning language functions. Other common tasks in the communicative approach are games like guessing as students have to ask and answer questions among themselves. Grammar points are introduced implicitly to support the learning of the structures in questions. The teacher sets up a situation that students are likely to encounter in real life. The advantages of the CA are as follows: The CA makes use of topical items and authentic materials, motivating pupils and arousing their interest, therefore leading to a more active participation and producing a better oral output. The curriculums of communicative approach usually have clear and specific main topics (situations) to cultivate learners’ communicative and social competence. Teachers encourage students to express a lot. Errors are considered natural. It won’t hurt the self-esteem of students. The disadvantages of the CA are as follows: The CA is aimed at training students' listening and speaking, so it relatively ignores the training of reading and writing. Since the activities require the full participation of the students and minimum participation from the teacher, the teacher may fear that he may lose control of the class. Role-play games and simulations involve a lot of conversations and discussions. Thus it may not be very suitable for a large class. The teacher has to spend a lot of time on interactions of students and he is not able to predict the process in the class. Speaking will obstruct shy people for communication. If the character of students is introverted, teaching development will be a tough problem.

Suggestopedia is another method of teaching English. One of the most uniqueness of this method is the use of Baroque music during the learning process. Baroque music, with its 60 beats per minute and its specific rhythm, created the kind of relaxed states of mind for maximum retention of material. It is believed that Baroque music creates a level of relaxed concentration that facilitates the input and retention of huge quantities of materials. The students learn English not only from direct instruction but also from indirect instruction. It is encouraged through the presence in the learning environment of posters and decoration featuring the target language and various grammatical information. They are changed every day. By doing this, the students can learn many things indirectly in the classroom or outside classroom. For example, students can produce simple sentence by using the posters or grammatical information on the wall. In the teaching learning process, students who make mistakes are tolerated, for example in pronouncing the word. The emphasis is on the content not the structure. Grammar and vocabularies are presented and given treatment from the teachers, but not dwelt on. Overall music, drama and art are integrated in the learning process. The advantages of Suggestopedia are as follows: Through we learn to trust the power of the mind. We also learn that deliberately induced states of relaxation can be valuable at times in the classroom. We can also benefit from the use of music to get students sit back and relax. The disadvantages of Suggestopedia are as follows: It is not a practical method as teachers face the problem of the availability of music and comfortable chairs. The method refers to the importance of memorization, excluding any reference to comprehension and creative problem solving. In fact language is not only about the power of the mind to memorize. It’s about understanding, interacting and producing novel utterances in different unpredictable situations.

How I would approach the balance between receptive and productive skills:

I think that all skills are equally important and they are interconnected. When the students read a text, they often also speak or write about what they read, or listen to their peers’ opinions about the text. In this way, their own understanding about the text is enriched. Nevertheless, there can be different contexts of learning and different perspectives on the importance of certain skills. That’s why in order to attain a balance between the receptive and productive skills I would use authentic texts in context and apply various tasks around the subject being discusses- for example when discussing traveling and tourism I could get the students to read an article out loud, then question and debate it and then write a short paragraph conveying their opinion on the topic.

How I would analyse students’ difficulties and reasons for learning:

I think that the students’ motivation or reasons for learning are an individual matter, therefore should be assessed on individual basis through conversation with the student. As for the difficulties in learning the most common ones have been identified in the TEFL literature. They should also be assessed on individual basis through interaction with the student and picking up on his/her mistakes. I think that this comes with experience. Some of the most common difficulties in learning English are as follows:

 

When teaching English as a foreign language, persistent use of first-language is possibly a problem. As a teacher, it's important to encourage students to use English.  Another issue is that students may be unclear what do to, or do the wrong thing during the lessons. It's important to make sure that the teacher’s instructions are clear. Personally I would use gestures, mime, and short concise sentences. I would speak clearly. Most importantly I would use models and examples of the activity and also pictures. That way the students would hopefully know what they need to do.

Another difficulty in the classroom is that students could be  bored, inattentive, or unmotivated but with proper planning, this problem can be solved, for example by using a  juicy theme to the lesson; one that the students can relate to and will enjoy. This will give them some motivation and interest.

 How I would plan my syllabus:

I would plan the syllabus according to the students’ linguistic proficiency, abilities and the motivation for learning. I would choose the teaching method according to their character and personality. This requires further investigation through a test or conversation.

What attitude I would have in the classroom:

I would like to be an enthusiastic teacher, because I think that students feed off the teacher’s attitude as enthusiasm is simply contagious. It is important to be prepared and punctual. The lessons are made more interesting if the teacher puts his/her personality into the lessons. A good teacher is patient and encouraging, likes to joke with students but maintain the authority at the same time.

 

What materials I would use:

I would use topical and authentic materials. That way the students stay motivated and are interested in the subject being discussed. That however is debate due to the wide spectrum of students’ interests and inability to satisfy everyone’s taste in music, sports etc.

 

 

Conclusion:

There are many methodologies commonly applied in English teaching. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and so the decision whether to use them or not should be made according to the students’ expectations, personality and language knowledge. For example the Berlitz Method might prove effective for teaching English for business purposes but difficult to apply in a large-class size situation. In this case the Grammar Translation Method might be more effective as it is easier for the teacher to control the class. The Communicative Approach might be very effective and prove to be a fast way of learning English; however it could be difficult to apply it while teaching shy and introverted people. Suggestopedia could be very good to teach people who get discouraged and stressed out really easily but might be difficult to apply while teaching people who are not art-orientated but are more of mathematical minds. Overall I think that the choice of the methodology used in the classroom should depend on the students, i.e.: his/her abilities, fluency, character (extroverted and introverted) and the motivation and reasons for learning English. It is important to choose the method which suits each student the most. That needs to be done on individual basis.

 

References:

www.tefl.net/

www.wikipedia.com

www.cactustefl.com/resources/index.php

bogglesworldesl.com/

efl-resource.com/

www.usingenglish.com/teachers/



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