MY TEACHING APPROACH
I have been fortunate enough to have a wide variety of incredible opportunities in my life thanks to the English language. Teaching is not only a profession but also a gratifying act in which I am able to pass on life-long learning skills to my students so they can have even more opportunities in their future.
Learning has to be a dynamic and practical process and this mixture is what I try to bring into my classes while also paying attention to the students' needs and goals. I believe in a holistic communicative approach to teaching that demands the learners’ active participation and challenges their own abilities. Certainly, every student is unique and as a teacher, my role is to take into account their different background experiences, motivations, and affective factors when designing a class and being ready to modify it according to their goals and needs.
I consider "using" the language to be just as important as actually "learning" the language. For this reason, even though my classes come with differences, all of them have two points in common. First, English is always the vehicular language for the lesson and I try to avoid using the mother tongue, this way, day by day students are unconsciously refining their hearing comprehension. And second, free conversations in the target language are not only emphasized but also encouraged, so students can develop fluency and confidence in the new language. Not to mention that when students are taught grammar rules, they understand it quicker since they associate it with what they have already been using.
With beginners, I know it is important to keep instructions simple and clear by using as few words as needed and by using body language whenever possible. I also incorporate visual cues, such as drawings, realia, and exaggerated gestures to make the process of learning fun and dynamic. For children and young learners, for example, I create lots of games, flashcards, and repetitions to encourage the students to practice and produce the content of the lesson, giving them positive reinforcement as feedback. If my students are adults, I always take into consideration their previous, if any, language experiences and any difficulties they may have encountered in the past to guarantee a stress-free environment. Regardless of their age group, I think it is essential for beginners to feel that they are in a safe and friendly atmosphere, therefore from the start I teach my students classroom-language that will help them feel relaxed and at ease during any lesson.
For intermediate and advanced levels, classes go beyond basic grammar pattern lessons and repetition. I, as a teacher, have the responsibility to truly understand the intrinsic parts of the target language and be challenged by the students. However, it does not mean classes cannot be fun and engaging. For example, create debates about real-life topics to practice their speaking, get real-world English language material such as podcasts so they can recognize different accents, slangs, and idioms, etc.
Once again, I am prepared to adapt to multiple scenarios, thus the content and the materials for the course have to be suitable for each student's individual needs and goals. In general, I use a function-based syllabus but I am ready to personalize each syllabus according to the needs and wishes of the learner to fit their individual goal.
I use all four macro-skills in my classes for both children and adults students (listening, speaking, and reading) because I believe they all play an important role in learning the language at any level. The general outline of a class would have the following structure:
Warm - it is a short warm-up to get the students motivated and excited to learn, which includes the target grammar/function for the lesson. For example, if the last class I taught past tense, I can ask the students what they did last weekend.
Presentation - I introduce the main topic, vocabulary, and the focus of the lesson. For instance, if I will teach phrasal verbs, I can show a quick video with follow-up questions, and (if needed) grammar explanations.
Practice - This is a guided part of the class in which the students practice in the target language while I observe if the lesson has been understood. For example, they have to incorporate some phrasal verbs from the video previously watched with personal examples from their lives (orally).
Production -In this part, the students are the creators of the class, they get to produce the content of the class. For example, I ask the students to come up with as many phrasal verbs as they can using some of the main verbs from the video and then use them in a sentence.
Review - It is a quick recap of the lesson to make sure everything is clear and understood.
In short, all the activities in class are linked smoothly and I do everything I can to think outside the box, incorporating different mediums to make the lessons more effective and fun.