The Techniques of Teaching.
The world of teaching a second language has many techniques that a teacher or company can conduct their classes to benefit the needs of their learner's, all would defend their way and say that theirs is the best, in my opinion there is no correct way of teaching a language, only ways that make the teacher feel more comfortable and relaxed, which will make the flow of the classes more acceptable and enjoyable for the learner's. So in this essay I am not going to say which is the best, I am going to say which I would be more comfortable to use in my teaching.
But first, I am going to do a quick overview of what I believe to be the industries most famous and well worked strategies which have been and are currently been taught at the moment around the world. The strategies that I will explain are the following;
The Direct (Berlitz) Method
The Oxbridge System
The Direct (Berlitz) Method
The Direct Method is a programme in which the learner's start very basically, learning simple vocabulary and phrases of everyday life, then building up to the grammar issues later in the course. All of the learning is done in the L2 language and there should be no L1 speaking in the classes. The courses are constructed using text book's which the teacher's follow during the programme. Correct pronunciation and grammar are emphasised and class room's should consist of mostly STT.
I can see this being a deceiving way of teaching L2 to a new group of learner's, which at the start may seem to be consuming the L2 very rapidly, but I think though the stages of the course the process will slow up and the learner's will become agitated and less consistent as the programme becomes more repetitive and not giving the learning what they actually need. I have studied in these sorts of courses before and there is too much information and vocabulary given at the start of the courses, learner's become swamped in un-neccessay vocabulary and this can become a cause of affective factors in L2 learning.
The communicative approach uses the idea of a task (a piece of classroom work) as a teaching strategy, consisting of a goal, input and an activity, The approach develops the productive (speaking and writing) and receptive (listening and understanding) skills through communicative ways, games and role plays are very important in the classroom's as they have certain features in common with real communicative event's.
I have to say, this is one of my favourite syllabus' as I believe that it gives an all-round purpose of learning. It gives the learner's the opportunity to practice all skills in a practical and meaningful way. The only problem I can see with this syllabus is if a participant of the course is more visual, they may not be well suited to the programme as they will need to see the rules on paper to be able to grasp them.
The Oxbridge System
This teaching method uses activities (structure,vocabulary and topic) to firstly build up speaking and understanding using a communicative approach all taught in the L2. It aims to teach the L2 effortlessly with the main objective to teach how to speak in the corresponding language, the classes are started with their trademark mix of quick question's which have no correspondence to the class which helps the learner's switch their brain's into thinking in the L2, at the end of the classes there is a quick wrap up of the class so that the participant's can recap on what they have learnt.
When I started the course I was a little sceptical about the Oxbridge system as I had not witness anything like it before. But I have been involved in classes which show dramatical improvement in the learner's capabilities speaking the L2. Every student seems to be fulfilled in their learning experience and enjoying the environment of the class. The statistic's show that the system is working and that is a very positive mention in a hugely competitive modern language learning industry.
My approach to teaching
Before coming to Oxbridge I have had past experiences of teaching in other companies which syllabus' were constructed by using corporate text book's which the teacher follows in order to explain grammatical situation's, vocabulary and dilemmas so I can understand the pro's and con's with these system's, but after studying and practising at Oxbridge and seeing the way they organise their syllabus, I have to admit it has had a great influence on my approach.
I would theoretically use the same approach as Oxbridge but there is two things that I would add to the system to optimise the learner's curriculum. First I would start with a more visual approach for the beginners (S1 students), for example when teaching structures to S1 learner's, I would use work-sheet's with grammatical situation's so that the more visual learners can grasp the concept's of the morphology involved with the L2, none of the exercises would be translated into their L1 as learning a new language does not involve any translation from L1 to L2 and this will help the learner not using interlanguage in the lessons. I believe that this would be more beneficial for them to understand the concept's of the language structures in the L2, after the learner's progress to P2 I would take away these worksheets and carry on with the Oxbridge approach.
Second, I would introduce a section at the end of each class dedicated to writing, by giving the student's quick written test's of the word's/structures that were used in the lesson, so not only are they practising all of their receptive skill's they will being practising all of the productive skill's as-well. These quick test's will not be as important to the syllabus as the speaking communication aspect but it will give them a short amount of time understanding how the word's and structures are composed.
This would be a basic example of what a S1 class (60mins) would look like:
5 minutes- quick question's, (to get the student's thinking in the L2).
15 minutes- structure activity, (with the use of worksheets).
15 minutes- vocabulary activity.
15 minutes- topical activity.
10 minutes- wrap up and written structure/lexical text.
The syllabus would be constructed with the framework of structure, vocabulary and topic activities which would be specifically distributed to meet the needs of the learner and their corresponding level.
As you can see from the graph, the activities are correctly organised so that the more basic levels receive more structure and vocabulary activities as their basic understanding will not let them express themselves correctly for the topical activities, and vis-versa for the higher levels, they will mostly be applying practice to the vocabulary and topical activities to expand their already known knowledge of structures and language. The classes will follow this guideline so that the student's can ESA using the language and build up their L2 acquisition to be able to communicate in all means of the language.
This whole structure of the course can be changed for ESP too, depending on the specific needs, it will follow the same guidelines just with different activates regarding the regarding topic.
Environment in the classes.
The teacher's will prepare their classes appropriately to the learner's needs and not only will they be a teacher, they will also be a guide, a organiser, an assessor and agony aunt to the learner's, as every person needs different things, they must be capable to understand if a participant has any affective factor's in their learning and then be able to cope accordingly to get the best results, they must always tell the learner's that making mistakes is part of the development process and never to feel embarrassed in those situation's. All these factors will make better rapport and reducing the affective factors of the learner's, as this is essential to have a good learning environment. I believe that having the confidence to speak out is critical in learning a new language, it is impossible to be able to speak a language if you do not practice speaking the L2 with other people.
They will also have to regulate their comprehensible input regarding the level of the student's they are teaching, with clear slow request's always in the L2 language so that all the learners can understand. I believe the location of the teacher is essential, I would take out all white board's so that the teacher's never have their back's towards the participant's, sitting at a table with the learner's around you gives the optimum ability to enable learning and if a participant for a moment, needs extra attention for some reason, they are always able to identify the problem and take the necessary action's. The teacher can then monitor and analyse the learner's in their progress and will be able to identify if a person is not understanding correctly or having a hard time grasping the situation. This would also influence introducing more kinaesthetic activities such as role playing and action games etc. So not only will the visual and auditory learner's receive positive stimulus, the kinaesthetic participant's will become stimulant in their natural way. This will benefit all of the learning styles in the program. This can be done by taking away the teacher's notes in paper and distributing each teacher with a tablet loaded with the lesson activities, objectives and videos, which the teacher's can introduce in the classes so that the participant's can see and understand real communicative situations in real life activities.
The learner's would have to sit an exam before they could start the course, to indicate their level, determination and age, which all have a key factor on the learning process, I do not believe that an age can delay a person the chance of learning a new language, I just understand that classes have to be adapted accordantly to suit the age, (I.e.- a adult is not going to want to learn about children’s nursery rhymes etc.).
As you can see my syllabus is a mixture of the Oxbridge system and the Communicative approach as I believe that these two system’s are the best suited for me and my teaching and is what I would expect if I was learning another language.