My teaching approach
By Paul Bryant
Hi, I would like to share with you my thoughts about how I believe that I can become a good if not great English teacher in the very near future. As I have recently learnt, language acquisition in itself is the process undergone to perceive, understand and communicate a specific language. Second language acquisition however happens through various ways depending on the different levels of a student’s capabilities to learn. The focus of this is on the quality of information and not the quantity taught. Students must absorb the meaning and understanding of how to use these words in a particular given context. There have been many different methodologies of teaching used over the years and each method has in turn fallen out of favour and has been replaced with a new one. Audio, functionalism, communicative theories, and now the fad is "task-based syllabuses” or better known as the ‘communicative approach’. With all the knowledge of the modern times, teaching has become one of the most rewarding opportunities to help others in self-development and achieving their learning goals. The following are my beliefs about teaching a language and how to achieve optimal results.
I feel one of the first most important things to achieve with my student’s is getting to know each of the student’s names, this makes the student feel more personally interactive during class time and also connected more to myself. This cannot be overemphasized in one on one classes, but is also imperative within a multi student classroom environment. The environment of the classroom can affect a student’s ability to learn, if it is too noisy, too messy or overcrowded these factors will make for an awkward and unsuccessful class. A quiet and relaxed area to learn in is key for myself, as it’s important that the students can listen and feel comfortable to participate actively in any of my classes. Although there are some factors that cannot be controlled, such as their personal life or tiredness through working hours etc. The classroom should be a place where they can focus their energy on personal growth and development.
Active participation is strongly encouraged within classes and students are prompted to communicate as often as possible. Positive reinforcement is used often to make the learners confident about their skills and open-minded about speaking in class. The easiest way to engage this into the classroom is to adopt the communicative approach to teaching.
The communicative approach also known as CLT, emphasizes interaction as both the means and ultimate goal of study. Within this method of teaching, students will learn and practice the target language through interaction with not just the tutor but also with one another, through use of the target language in class but also outside of the classroom too. This can be achieved through asking the students to find out personal information about each other using questions. Tutors can choose classroom activities based upon what He or She believes is going to be most effective for the particular students when developing their communicative abilities. Oral activities are popular amongst teachers as opposed to grammar drills or reading and writing activities, because they include active conversation, creative and unpredicted responses from students. Activities can also vary based upon the level of the language class they are being used in, they promote collaboration, fluency and comfort within the target language. There are many different methods of teaching this approach to students I personally prefer more fun and interesting ways of interacting with my students as this prevents boredom within the class environment. Different ways of utilizing this approach can be:
These are to name but a few of many if not hundreds of teaching methods out there available at your fingertips to help teach students both young and old their desired target language.
I believe that unlike previous teaching techniques which have simply faded away over the years, the communicative approach will still be used in years to come as one of the preferred methods of teaching. It is estimated that over one billion people are currently learning English. English is the main language of the Internet, books, medicines, air-traffic control, international business, science, diplomacy, sport and advertising, the list goes on and on. A few years ago the British Council (one of the world’s largest providers of English language training) released a 66 page report on ‘The Future of the English language” that states in particular that worldwide, there are over 1,400 million people living in countries where English has official status. One out of five of the world’s population speak English to some level of competence, so demand for English from the other four fifths is increasing! Near the end of their report they say: “The English language seems set to play an ever more important role in world communication.”
I can foresee this however to be the case for only the next ten years or so, when the greatest impact to the TEFL industry in the future will be technology. Namely translation technology, which has made significant advancements in the past 15 years, this will have a major impact say on the tourist industry’s use of English. Tour guides, hotel staff, border/immigration workers and the airline industry will no longer need to rely on the English skills of employees. It will also have a huge impact in the scientific community, for those who have had to learn English in order to do research or publish in their scientific field.
With this in mind I would think that language schools would be the first to feel the impact from these technological advancements due to the costs involved. Language schools can be extremely expensive to run, there are the teachers’ salaries, associated tax’s and social security payments, Staff in administrative rolls, sales and marketing positions, light, heat, water and other outlays, it all adds up. And these costs then have to be represented in the price that is charged to the customer – the students!!!
With the rise of online learning systems (which is where it can be done cheaper), the systems are now in place. These are sufficiently reliable, that there is no real need for the learner to enter the physical building of the language school. Even face to face time, that much praised teaching method of the real world, can be reproduced electronically with video conferencing all over the world, with various companies now providing this advanced form of communication.
This also has the capability to advance into more futuristic ways of teaching which we see in everyday life even now: Virtual Reality technology, Avatars, Holograms where will time take us? Where all we will need to do is try keep up with all the latest technological breakthroughs to ensure that we, as students and tutors….
STAY TOP OF THE CLASS!!!