MY TEACHING APPROACH
I think motivation is very important not only to the teacher but also to the students. I firmly believe that what we project, that energy, bounces to the students of the class and back to us. Motivation is pretty much a key element into learning a second language, this is because you have to want it. It differs from your native language in that your mother tongue it’s a given, you kind of learn it almost on a sub-conscious level in order to communicate in your homeland. For a second language there has to be an interest from the part of the student, this is were motivation comes in, as usually the students that are more motivated are the ones that advance the most. That doesn’t mean that the other students that aren’t as excited or motivated to learn the language wont learn it because that’s were the teacher’s motivation comes in strong to help them and make it fun. One way to emphasis the student motivation in the case of the English language is to let them know what an asset it is, in terms job application and communicating in different countries, since in a lot of them English is the Non-Official language.
On the note of my last sentence on the paragraph above I, as a teacher, would definitely like to know the students needs. What is the main reason a student is learning a new language? Some students learn English, for example, for completely different reasons than others. One student may want to learn it so it would open his or hers job opportunities more or maybe to apply for a different country to the one he or she lives in, it is now no secret that a second language goes a long way in getting accepted for that job offer. Another student might want to learn English for the reason that he likes to travel and he cant communicate well with his native tongue. This is a good motivation since it can be frustrating being in another country and not being able to communicate your thoughts. Another student might want to learn English for academics studies. Approximately 80%of the worlds academic and research papers are published in English. My sister, for example, studied Genetics in Japan and all of her papers (she got published in World Medical Journal a couple of times) had to be in English. I could go on and on with different examples of the needs of the student, like they want to understand what their favorite rock bands are saying or to see movies in English and not dubbed or they want to be able to read the web more freely since the vast majority of the internet is in English, so if you create a website for your company or social media, English will help massively. A good teacher will be able to help identify the needs of the student in case they don’t know it or is not sure which one is it. If it’s for the TOEFL or TOEIC exam I will have to teach them a grammatical and structural sentence elements approach. If the student wants it for travel purposes I will focus more on a conversational approach.
Next topic I want to take on is the importance of the syllabus. I view the syllabus as a guiding tool for the students. It is like a roadmap with direction for succeeding in the class. The syllabus is a helpful map for the students and teacher. It is like using Google maps so if you get confused or stuck in an intersection you can consult it or if you are in an specific part of the syllabus that is unclear you can show it to the professor and I will help the student understand the assignment. Now, I know I sound like I love the syllabus however that’s not always the case. Let me give you and example. Say if I am teaching a class of a P2 or P3 students and we are very involved in a topic and I know that the students are very engaged with it, I am not going to stop them for us to go to the next topic simply to keep up with the syllabus because I feel that they are enjoying the class and most important, learning, which is the end goal. One of the cool features I found in Oxbridge it’s their different way of doing things and I liked that. I find the syllabus’s important but not to the point of being the “law”, it can sometimes be extremely helpful and others just a bureaucratic document.
The activities in the class must be interesting and diverse. This is in order to keep the class engaged and dynamic. I believe a class must have a certain organic flow to it, to make it fun and for the students to learn. Activities such as vocabulary, questions, match the answer, identify pictures, topics such as current events happening in the world right now, among many others, are key to making the classes very effective and to optimize the time to its fullest. I believe we live in a time that it is the easiest to learn a new language than ever before. For example the use of media in the class can be very helpful in keeping the students attention and make it fun for them. If we watch a video on Climate Change, the students must pay attention to the subject, pronunciation of words, among other things. At end of the video they can summarize what they saw, give their opinion on it, pronunciation of the words they found most challenging, that they wrote when they were watching the video. With these types of activities the students can practice the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
One of the most important things that I have learned in Oxbridge is the permanent use of L2 in the class. There might be some rare cases of L1 use but L2 is the standard and definitive language used. This is because by making L2 mandatory in the class it forces the student to loosen up, get more confident, make mistakes and learn from them on the spot. I firmly believe that by doing this the student will feel more self-assured when he finds himself in a situation in real life that he can only use L2. One of the many things I love to teach is the idiom since it’s very commonly used in the streets. These “slangs” help the student know most of the sayings and I have always noticed their interest in them. I remember the first one I taught, it was the “She threw me under the bus” one. I still remember the student face when I explained to him what it meant; it was one of the highlights of that particular class. Target language or TL is also very useful for their L2. This is because with TL they can expand their vocabulary more by learning not only new words but also how to use them. At the end of the class I have been fond of the TL, the student can memorize them and add them to their brain. I always like not only for them to define the word but also give examples of such words in sentences.
With what I stated in the above paragraph it would be no surprise that one of my preferred teaching roles is the guide one. The guide teacher role is the one that guides and directs the class dynamics. With this role you identify were the student wants to go with their L2 and you as a guide take them there. You also guide the student on how to communicate effectively with their English. This is very important and I put great emphasis on this because in the street it aint cool or productive if you always talk like a robot or in proper book form. My goal is for them to loosen up and master the language while also having fun. Another role that I identify with is the conversationalist. This role focuses on good conversations that your students will remember and they will be excited when your next class with them comes up. By focusing on good topics with conversation you can really see who the student is. You can actually see who that person is, what do they believe in and what they stand for. By doing this, you can make real connections with your students and advance in classes better.
Regarding the assessment type I am deeply inclined of the formative assessment. This process it’s on going and by gathering information of the strengths and weaknesses of each student you can plan for an improved program for the future because you receive more feedback and can adapt better. As a teacher you give a test that concentrates on the student weaknesses and improves upon them by giving them more specific tests. By giving these test you will be able to tell if the student has achieve the level required of proficiency to advance to the next level. With this you can grade the student and see if he can go from a P2 to a P3. Not only that but formative assessment also has a number of tasks such as discussions, application of skills, interviews, among others to confirm their progress.
The age difference and different levels of English is one of the most crucial and challenging aspects of becoming an efficient teacher. Both groups have to be handled very differently in order for them to progress. For example, with children it’s better to rely heavy on images or things they can identify with. These can be for example, the “in” cartoons of the time, that way as soon as they see the image their brain it’s going to react positively because they know this character. I know children can be trickier to teach since their attention spam can be short and they can be distracted very easily. So by using something they know, you will grab their attention from the get go. Another image you can use is that of animals since they fascinate most children. You can have a connect the name with the animal picture exercise. For adults you can use for example current life events. Now days, I think everybody has an opinion on the current President of the United States, which is Donald Trump. By seeing how they form their sentence structures, their pronunciation, their use of words, checking their grammar, etc., you can tell their level from one class. This is very important to address because a group formed by two P4 or P5 and one P2 can be troublesome for not only the P2 who can feel left behind but also the higher level ones that might feel they are not taking full advantage of the class.
Lastly I just wanted to say that even though I haven’t been teaching a long time I really enjoy it. There is just something great about seeing a student progress and mastering the language that fulfills me. I believe that every student is different from one another and because of that your approach to them must be personalized. Because I truly believe that when a student dominates the language is when they actually think in their L2 not translate from L1 to L2 in their brain. When they actually think in L2 that’s when you know that you that you did a good job.