On teaching with direct method and Learning a second Language
The teaching Method we based our lessons is called the Direct teaching method. The method Direct is named “direct” because meaning should be connected directly with the target language without translation into native language. The Direct method emphasis on oral language, Intensive speech practice, usually with training in phonetics. The learner experiences the new language in the same way in which he has experienced his mother tongue. Avoiding grammar translation as it’s slows down fluidity, however, using the definitions along with the sound and picture to transmit meaning. Trying to use cognates in explanations rather than translate because this assist the student in understanding and also use new vocabulary.
Learning a second Language is more complex than it seems, sometimes Syntax and vocabulary isn’t enough in order to acquire the level expected. Positive learning fails when all efforts seems useless. Therefore it is crucial to understand the motivation behind the reason for learning a second language. It is going to help in order to plan your classes and also choosing the right topics and material for the class. Having said that there are a few factors involved in a class that needed to be considered: behaviorism, constructivism or direct method and communicative approach.
Behaviorism or How do I motivate the student? Firstly, what it is important is to know who your student is. Personality, age and interests are factors involved in the understanding of which sort of person you are dealing with, and knowing those factors helps in order to achieve a high motivation and a positive learning. It is my duty as a teacher to ask my students why do they want to learn and what it is that they would like to learn. Based on that I try to personalize my classes and the material used as much as I can. I come from a cinema and audiovisual background, therefore, I like to use audiovisual teaching methods in my classes in order to make them funnier. It is important to me that they learn without noticing that they are learning, a class should be fun, simple and functional.
Lately I had an experience observing a class, the student was highly motivated, she had good level in English but when it came to speak she was behaving extremely shyly. Me and the other teacher noticed, so we changed the way the class was being taught and we started to ask questions and answers between each other using funny expressions, even making fools of ourselves a little to try to make the class less formal. The student gained confidence and started to speak without any apprehension. We consistently tried to encourage her and little by little she let it go and after all, she had a great experience and learnt everything that needed to be learnt that class. We all have our materials as teachers but not every person behaves the same towards them, that is why it is very important to somehow adapt the material you are teaching depending on the student, that is going to help the motivation and the behaviorism creating a good environment for the class. Preparation of a class is by using the topics favored by the students in regards to their interests and are linked with introductory and wrap up questions. These can be adjusted to also link the next activity as well as check for understanding of the target language. How do we correct? Following the example of the shy student, there’s different ways to correct: you can correct on the spot or correct later, in that case, I would correct shortly after to explain the errors and as a group, as to not feel individually exposed, in a one to one situation or with more confident students, the correction process can be immediate and always with correcting pronunciation.
Throughout the TEFL course I’ve been learning how to create an activity and how to teach it. Activities can be about vocabulary, structure (grammar), topic and pronunciation, however, what makes them interesting is how they are created in order to assist the Direct method of teaching and acquisition of conversational and communication skills. Content always matters but what is important is the way that content that is being taught. We base our method on the three P’s model: Presentation, Practice and Produce. Firstly, The presentation, should be direct and easy to understand but also an engaging part of the class, it is very important to have some visual references in order to make it easier to understand and for the learner to construct new relativity with an image as opposed to a translation. Further on, the Practice part consists of “playing” with the Target language(TL) learnt during the presentation, tables, relation of words and definitions, or even talking about some text, learning the meaning of new words or expressions, reinforcing new language concepts and constructions. The final stage of the activity, is the produce part. That is the space that the student has to create the structure or use the target language in speaking. Usually inspired by the same images they saw in the present stage to activate the memory of the learned TL in order to make mistakes is when they should talk more, trying to make sentences with the theory they’ve learnt. To sum it up there’s what we call the “Wrap up questions”, consisting of basic questions to identify if the student correctly understood the activity.
In S1 or beginner activities the majority is basic structure and vocabulary this requires the teacher to use TPR methods (total physical response) which consists in the use of gestures, expressions, vocal intonation or physical actions in order to reinforce comprehension. When theory becomes practice, repetition is important to reinforce muscle memory and construction and the more time producing the more the student will retain the language. In order to establish a good connection between student and teacher, It is my belief that you need to keep her or his attention. Motivation and enthusiasm are always very important, implying what you are going to talk about through direct or open questions keeps engagement; with as much of the expressions used and intonation used with lower levels but maybe a quicker pace for higher levels.TPR is carried out through classes up to P5 because it makes it easier for fluid understanding and motivation in a conversation. It also helps the student create new concepts through conversation alone. Topic activities consist of comprehension, reinforcing conversation skills, learning new vocabulary, and expressing opinions thoughts or ideas, therefore, it is important to create interest with the topic chosen, if it is an actualized subject, as a topic, It is easier to engage with.
At the beginning of the classes, we carry out a series of closed questions with auxiliary verbs. The student is required to answer, inverting the subject and using the verb either positive or negative. We also show tag questions and how to create and respond to them. It is a useful tool for the teachers to warm up and work on the connection with the students in the class as well as identifying bad habits, misreads and weak points in general. All of our materials and activities are accessible on-line, through computers, tablets of phones for teachers and students. The student can practice at home and the class can be done in different places including online making it available for us to choose the most comfortable atmosphere that the students demands in order to learn, making it much more friendly and interactive. We can alternate video material and pictures in order to reinforce comprehension and help the students to develop a better understanding. Also helps in order to get familiar with different accents of English Language. All the material in the class is analyzed and chosen for that class. Questions and interaction with the student are created based on those materials.