My view on teaching
Because there is no right or wrong way to teach English, or any subject for that matter, all teachers have their own way techniques or ideas that work best in the classroom and for the students. Personally, the cognitive theory speaks volumes to me because as a student myself in the past, aspects of this theory, such as memorization, visualization, reliance on motivation and determination, as well as organization have had a strong influence on my success and abilities in the classroom. Because of the influence this learning theory had on me, I like to bring these techniques into my classrooms and shape them appropriately for my students, depending on the age and level.
To go into more depth of how the cognitive theory is represented in the classes I teach, there are three extremely relevant tools of cognition. The first tool is perception. Perception relates to the way we view and process new things. For example, when students of mine are presented with new material, the way they perceive the information correlates with how they learn. The perception of material may be different for each of them, which is perfectly fine and normal. Secondly, attention relies on focusing on something in particular; we focus on a lesson with specific target language and tune out irrelevant material. Finally, memorization is the final cognitive tool that helps tie all of this together. Memorization, which is the process of acquiring, sorting, and recalling information allows all new learning material to be stored and labeled as needed for later. These tools further express understanding of why and how the PPP model (Present, Practice, Produce) works so successfully for students of all levels and ages.
To be more specific about my preferred teaching methods and ideas, I would like to emphasize the importance of the communicative method in my classes. The communicative method focuses of key ways to learn with a focus on communication whether it is by reading, writing, or speaking. One useful way to use this method is to put meaning behind material and specific lessons as it is essential for memorization and understanding. To explain further, if my students are learning about countable and uncountable nouns it would be quite easy to just tell them what is countable and uncountable. Instead, I would use the method described above by asking them about their grocery list. If the grocery list is fruit, coffee, chicken, and eggs. I would simply ask how much or how many of each item they would buy and they would be able to unveil the difference between uncountable and countable through this exercise. This brings meaning to the topic and makes it easier for the students to process and memorize the material.
The use of authentic material makes learning and recalling material at a later time much more possible. As a teacher, if I was simply going over vocabulary terms and questioning my students, I won’t be as effective as possible. Instead, when I put the vocabulary word or specific target language into a meaningful question or conversation for the students to answer, it becomes more personal and relative.
Another effective way of emphasizing the communicative method is through reading. But it doesn’t stop there. Acquiring knowledge is so much more than simply reading the text. To break it down, pre-reading allows my students to discuss what the text is about and opinions they may have which puts meaning behind the text like explained above. Then, discussion during the text to explain any unknown language or concepts allows my students to do so much more than just read. Throughout the reading, we discuss any points or target language that may not make sense or resonate with the student. I also relate some target language to the students’ lives so it is more likely to stick with them to be usable in their daily lives. Finally, after reading the text, we discuss our opinions and beliefs or any agreement or disagreement they have toward the subject. This enhances the learning experience and the simplicity of reading.
Working effectively with students
My teaching method also depends on the audience as well as the levels. Of course, different ages will relate better to specific topics and activities compared to adults who may be interested in business English with more mature and complex content.
In classes with younger children, class participation is essential which requires me to keep the student motivated with subjects they enjoy. Fun games and activities bring the communicative method into the classes. Role play can be very helpful in the learning process as it effectively allows students to communicate and positively interact with one another to build up confidence and determination. For example, I may ask my students to imagine they are at the movie theater and need to request their favorite snacks and drinks and buy a movie ticket. Another great way to keep my young students intrigued is by allowing them to talk about their favorite topics, whether it is a video game, TV show, food, or toy and then tying it into a specific lesson.
For teenagers, it may be slightly more difficult to encourage participation but I do so by incorporating their interests into the lessons. There is a fine line when it comes to interest levels for this age group. They typically do not like talking about topics they find “boring” so instead, I talk with them about or encourage discussion about their hobbies, sports teams, their weekend plans with friends, the newest iPhone, and much more. Also, technology may have a strong role in their level of interest. By watching a YouTube video associated with the topic, they may be more engaged and interested therefore encouraging a strong discussion afterward.
Adults on the other hand should be taught depending on the reason why they are taking English classes. At this age, they may be taking English for work or personal development purposes. This difference impacts material as well. If an adult or a group of adults are professionally motivated to take English classes, the course material will relate more so to their career path. More professional conversation that allows them to use English in advanced professional setting is their end goal. If I am teaching adult students who work in marketing, we may discuss the company’s target market, marketing techniques abroad, and marketing success stories in the news. In any case, it is important to get this age group discussing and constantly debating to challenge them academically.
As a young teacher, I understand the role technology plays in learning. The 21st century has supplied us with as seemingly endless selection of technology to make teaching more sufficient. It is easy to predict technology will continue to have an influence on teaching and learning. For young students it will make the process easier; their ability to adapt to modern technology is far stronger than older students. However, technology doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Great tools such as podcasts, audio books, online games, can work for all ages and all levels to encourage learning both inside and outside the classroom. Technology also makes it easier for students to continue their studying outside of the one or two hour classes a week. Applications like DuoLingo are not time consuming and allow students to practice during downtime as they please or see fit. Personally, both now and in the future, it may be difficult to assign work outside of the classroom due to students’ other responsibilities or engagements but with all of the easily accessible tools, taking a few minutes to practice is becoming more and more practical.
As modern technology continues to surface, I plan on dedicating my time to learn just as my students dedicate theirs to learn English so I can provide them with the best possible classes. I look forward to my growth as a teacher as well as a learner in the area of constant changes of the academic world. My goal for now and the future is to be the most dedicated and most reliable teacher my students could ask for!