Joel Forbes

My teaching approach

Teaching skills assignment


There are many different approaches, theories and methods in learning a second language.  All methods have one common goal, for the student to learn the target language. However each method has a different approach to achieving this goal. Also methods may have a different view of what it means to have learnt the language. The following methods/approaches that will be discussed are some of the more well known methods.

 The audio linguistic approach focuses on internalizing the target language by repetition. Students are drilled on grammar and grammatical patterns. It focuses on teaching grammar and correct pronunciation.  Mistakes are unacceptable and corrected. The teacher models the language by saying the phrases or sentences and then the students copy.  This approach enables students to learn correct pronunciation. The constant correction prevents students from learning incorrect grammar or structures, pronunciation and prevents any other mistakes when using the learnt language. The approach allows the students to communicate well in the practiced situation however is quite limited. The students learn specific grammar or sentences and may not know how to construct their own sentences or phrases when in a real situation. Another problem with the method is the student may not understand the meaning of what they are being taught and how meaning may differ in different situations. The teacher is only able to see if the student can use the language taught in the context it is taught in and not able to assess or gauge the understanding of the student.  

The Grammar translation method (GTM) is very different than the Audio lingual method and most other communicative methods. It focuses on reading and writing as oppose to speaking and listening. It can be useful as it allows students to learn rules and structures or the science of the language. Like the Audio lingual method error is not acceptable and is corrected preventing the student fossilizing patterns or mistakes.  The approach doesn’t allow students to learn how to communicate by means of speaking or listening. Students may learn about the language but not how to use it in context. Therefore a student may struggle to become fluent in a language with this method.

The purpose of the direct method is to make the student think directly in the target language rather than to translate, so is opposite to the grammar translation method. It has similarities to the audio linguistic approach as it focuses on practicing and repetition via speech. The teacher demonstrates by speaking and gets the students to practice. The teacher may show images or realia to convey meaning of the language taught. This method therefore may allow students to understand and use the language in different contexts as they understand meaning as well as use. Classes are taught in the target language and translation is not allowed. This is effective as it prevents students from using rules from their first language and makes sure that the true meaning is understood. This can be a problem when translating that the meaning of certain words or language in the second language and first language may not be exactly the same. The method removes learning barriers as the method tries to recreate the same way in which language is acquired naturally as a child learns. The approach however does not teach rules and therefore students may struggle. Another problem with the approach is it usually requires the student to give a specific answer and perhaps not learn how to create different structures with their knowledge of the language.

The silent approach is where the teacher tries to talk as little as possible in the class in order for the students to become more independent with their learning. It varies massively from many other approaches where the teacher plays a bigger role in helping the students acquire the language. The method allows students to become independent in their learning and, as there is minimal or no correction this means the students may use their own initiative and learn the language. The silence of the teacher may remove factors that are detrimental to learning. Such as correction from the teacher which may cause the student to loose confidence.  Lack of input from the teacher however may prevent the students from learning correct pronunciation as they don’t hear the language being used by the teacher. The method may not be affective for some students. If students lack motivation then getting them to put more effort in without verbal promptings or examples may be very difficult and off putting.


How you would approach the balance between receptive and productive skills

In order to learn more of the target language the student needs to be shown it. This can be through means of the teacher talking, reading, watching or listening to tapes or videos. However it may be more effective to limit this time; if fluency in the language is the desired outcome then activities which allow the students to improve their productive skills should emphasized more. I believe that classes or activities should include both receptive and productive activities. At the start of an activity or when introducing new language, receptive skills allow the students to understand the meaning and context of the language. This should be minimal as productive skills will allow the students to know how to communicate and use the language. Also it may allow them to further internalize the meanings and remember what they learnt in the receptive activity. Productive activities can allow receptive skills to be developed as they hear other speakers communicate and they receive correction from the teacher.

In a teaching environment certain factors can be detrimental to students learning. Affective factors may include the confidence of the student, the motivation the student has to learn, the interest the student has in the lesson etc. Affective factors may be hard to figure out as there are many different things that an affect students and if a teacher makes an assumption it may not be correct. One way to analyse the type of factor that the student has could be to observe the students body language they may show signs of discomfort. If they are sat in a tense or closed position this could indicate lack of confidence or discomfort with the teacher. Also observing their conversation for example if answers are short this may show lack of confidence in their ability to speak on that they are not interested in the topic. A more effective approach would be to ask them questions which enable you to find the cause or factor which affects their learning. If the teacher believes that the student is not interested in the subject for example they could ask the student what they think about the subject. The teacher could also ask the student to give feedback on the class which would allow them to express any problems they have during the class. In order to analyse difficulties a learner may have with interlanguage activities which get the student to practice patterns or structures may identify problems students have with interlanguage as they may make similar mistakes. Activities where there are exceptions to the rules may show also if the student is overgeneralizing. In terms of pronunciation words with similar spelling but different pronunciation would show if the student is overgeneralizing with spelling.

The best way to learn a language I feel is to speak in the language. My syllabus would be focused on learning through speaking the target language. However would include reading activities, listening activities and writing activities; in order for the student to be able communicate in any form. The lessons would have two objectives over all, to learn the vocab and grammar/uses. This would be taught in topics such as greetings, likes and dislikes etc. This would be in writing, reading and listening. The lessons would be as followed and much like the Oxbridge method would be separated into topic, structure and vocabulary activities. However each activity would include reading , writing, listening and speaking.  The class would be structured as followed:

Only three activities would be done as they must be done in all forms of communication. The practice with the different forms of communication would follow the pattern as shown below.


Vocabulary- Reading, writing, listening and speaking



Wrap up- 10 minutes


I feel that the traditional teacher in the classroom with a chalkboard can be off putting to many students affecting their learning. The best environment I feel is relaxed environment. My attitude as the teacher would be to guide the students and correct them but making sure to praise them often. This I feel prevents the student from feeling lack of confidence or anxiety in the teacher´s presence and would remove the image of the disciplinarian teacher.  I feel the best way for them to learn would be to practice through conversation the things they have learnt rather than drills as they are more likely to learn the language through application. The material would include videos, songs with printed lyrics and other authentic materials to help them learn different forms of the language. I would also use artificial materials in order to practice structures and uses. Also writing activities and gap fill activities would be included to work on reading and writing. 

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