I believe learning a language is a long and personal journey everyone must make. As a native English speaker now learning a third language, I can understand the struggles and frustrations a student can go through to learn a new language. Having the ability to effectively communicate is a skill that must be obtained through much practice and work. I believe that this journey can be one that is not only fun but exciting as well when taught in the right manner. This is where my teaching method comes into play.
When it comes to my teaching style I believe that each class the teacher needs to know and understand what the students’ goals are and how we can achieve them. To achieve these goals, I believe that the most effective and productive method to do this is the direct method. Let me briefly explain what this method exactly means and how it will be used within the teaching sessions. Growing up most of us where used to learning a new language through memorization of vocabulary and conjugations using textbooks. We would learn different topics within the language, for example all the vocabulary and grammar used for things in the kitchen and build upon what we already know. Although this is an effective method for some, I believe you do not retain and hold on to as much information as you would be able to with other methods. This is where the direct method is in my opinion the best way to teach.
When applying the direct method, you use only the language that you are learning in the session, here being English. It is extremely important not to fall back on your native language to learn a new one. You want to begin to think in English as well as speak it. In my opinion this is one of the most important elements to take into consideration. I know when I was learning a new language through textbooks and not speaking as much, I would always say what I was thinking in my head in English first and then try to translate it to the language I was learning. This is not a good approach because it makes the communication process take more time. You also struggle to get out the words naturally and end up hesitating and doubting the sentence structure. The communication that takes place within each lesson will help build on vocabulary as well as sentence structure and grammar creating a smooth transition into the new language. Instead of looking at a textbook and writing conjugations, we have interactive conversations between teacher and student so that the student becomes comfortable using the language. By using the direct method, we can help practice the sounds of each word within the language that will help build upon reading and writing.
Let’s take this method and explain how this can be applied in the classroom. For example, a new student who does not speak any English whatsoever comes in and I want them to be able to say things like, “Hi, how are you?” and “My name is…” by the end of the session. You must think that this would be an overwhelming task however with the direct method this becomes much simpler. Using motions, objects, and pictures, you can clearly communicate to the student what you are trying to say. Saying, “hello” and waving hello to them they can understand what this means. Continuing with, “my name is…” you can motion to yourself, and then proceed by asking, “What is your name…” so, they now understand what the word name is. Just by saying these two simple sentences and engaging in a conversation with the student, you can already build on grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary.
Being able to build learning this way the student can learn multiple words and phrases within a single session. You can really become interactive with the students and create fun learning activities for them. Bringing in difference items to each lesson or asking them to bring items that they would like to learn about and build upon. Focusing solely on communication really makes the student more excited and engaged within each lesson and activity.
Of course, once we begin lessons and have built a solid foundation, we can begin with spelling and grammar. They know what the words sound like and this will help each student to better understand how to read and write. The most important aspect of reading and writing is knowing how the word sounds. Even as children, when we were given new vocabulary that we did not know how to spell our teachers would always tell us to sound the word out.
One of the most important aspects of the direct method is the retrieval practicing. This type of behavioral teaching is where the teacher asks at the end of each lesson to go over everything they have learned in a quick wrap-up. The reason this is so important is because I want to make sure that the student can recall information that was learned from the lesson. If a student is given too much information only a certain amount will stick. By asking them questions at the end of each lesson, the student can go over the material that they learned and provide answers. Spacing out all this information and then building upon it is why the direct method produces the best possible outcome when learning a new language.
These skills can be easily applied to person-to-person classes however, you may wonder about online classes. If the student is interactive and willing to learn there truly is no difference at all. Through online class because of video we can still bring in visual aid as well as show emotions and gestures to indicate what we are teaching. Each student will be able to get one-on-one time with the teacher to understand the lesson plan.
As a teacher, I always take into consideration that just because I am well prepared and want the student to learn a new lesson for the day it may not always come out as planned. This is where it is extremely important to be flexible and adapt to each situation. Every student is different with different needs and you must tailor each lesson accordingly. The teachers attitude is the most important part of the teaching process and a calm and relaxed manner must be always maintained. Students can get frustrated at times when they cannot grasp a new concept and it’s important for them not to lose focus or confidence when this occurs. By motivating and encouraging them we can help build up their confidence to try new grammar rules or sentence structures without being scared to make mistakes.
Teaching children is another approach that the teacher needs to be able to adapt to. Teaching an adult and a child are two very different concepts within a classroom. Children can get easily distracted or bored with a lesson. It is important to have fun and quick activities where the student doesn’t even realize they are learning new vocabulary. This is what makes the direct method so fun, because of the communication aspect it involves. You can ask a child to bring in toys or items in the home that they want to learn about and come up with fun activities involving characters that they love so we can ask questions pertaining to a lesson plan. Children are best taught when there is an exciting game involved.
I believe that the future of English teaching is every changing process. Just a few years ago we were learning from blackboards and textbooks and now we have smart phones and all types of devices to aid us. There is new technology where it translates what you are saying into whichever language you choose in real time. This is going to be so useful for the future and will be able to be used in classrooms everywhere. As an English teacher, I would make sure to incorporate whatever technology I believe would be useful for the learning process for the student.
I really hope to be able to work with you in the future and come along this journey with you to learn English. It is an exciting language that can open so many doors for you!