Teaching Methods Essay
Teaching Methods- Critical Review
In traditional teaching the grammar translation method (GTM) is a limited approach with involves translating between students first language and the target language. The GTM method may have its place, in school systems, where the emphasis is on the ability to pass tests, however this may not be transferable to a functional use of the English language. I would not take a great deal from this approach in my future use of teaching methods.
The direct method holds some useful characteristics, such as grammar being learnt inductively, and topics being used to include the grammar more naturally in the classroom. This is a technique that I have observed in classes to benefit students and create a more fluent and natural learning process. However again it appears attention is placed on written rather than oral communication. This approach may be more suited within a school environment with large numbers, however if there is the scope to practice verbal communication I would utilise this above the written format.
The audio lingual method appears to have some benefits to the speed of learning, however again it does not provide a natural context to learn. I would take from the method a strategy to repeat the target language and allow students to learn through corrections. However "to drill" students in this manner removes the potential enjoyment they could gain. This method maybe practical when learners are children and the education is mandatory however as a within my teaching style I would prefer to incorporate a breadth of methods, that allows structure to be practiced along with speaking and having conversations as naturally as possible.
The silent method is another extremist approach, which again may have its place within a classroom however should not dominate as a method. The aspect of letting learning find the answers to the learning problems is clearly a positive technique, and one that can be included within activities as much as possible. However as an approach in its pure form it is not one that I would adopt very often, I would include it as a game when appropriate which could create an interesting and different learning environment.
Suggestopedia is a method which incorporates activity along with language learning which is something I feel would benefit students, by taking the emphasis and pressure away from the language itself. I feel this is a step towards creating a natural environment, one with stimuli other than what is presented by the teacher. I can see that this method could be more student led rather than shaped by the teacher, and thus form a more collaborative and enjoyable feeling in the classroom. The downside of this method is that it has the potential to become very unfocussed. The teacher would need to take great care to create a momentum within the classroom, and allow the other stimuli such as painting, drawing and listening to music to be helpful rather than distracting. Training on how to use this approach fully may enable a more successful use of this method.
The total physical response is a mainstream technique which i believe can help learners. This well rounded and simple method is one that can be incorporated within any learning model.
Incorporating the content based approach is also something that should be considered for any lesson. The content and subject of the conversations should stimulate the learner, and be adapted to their interests. Throughout the Oxbridge course we have seen the reaction of students when the material is not specific to their needs. During these times, without quick and careful adaption of the resources available the lesson can become unsuccessful. For this reason it is crucial to not only consider the structures that are targeted but also the context of the material presented.
The communicative approach again is another mainstream technique, one which allows the classroom to be balanced allowing language inputs and outputs to be managed to produce a balanced, fun and successful outcome. This approach which includes the simple structure of a goal, input and an activity (output), creates a goal orientated learning environment, and provides the backbone or structure of almost any classroom.
The Oxbridge approach, combines aspects of some of the above approaches, predominantly utilising the communicative approach, the total physical response. From the Oxbridge methods I agree that spoken language is the goal, and that language learning should be fun. I do not however agree with the structural approach used for resource dissemination, and I feel it takes the responsibility away from the teacher, and creates a lack of preparation rather than a facilitated preparation. Resources that are shared and a set syllabus are a great idea, however only when the resources are of good quality and matched to the learner appropriately. Giving teachers more freedom to plan their syllabus, while sharing teaching tools appears to me to be a more affective way of ensuring happier teachers, while providing them with the means to gather resources and prepare their classes.
Personalising the Teaching Approach
My teaching approach would contain a large amount of adaptation of resources and style in order to adapt to the needs and motivations of students. I would ideally work with people for long periods of time, and throughout this adapt my style and techniques to meet their personal needs. One way of adapting the approach would be to focus on students difficulties. To do so I believe understanding the students first language is a useful tool especially when working with children, who may not always point out their language learning barriers. I would also take an emotional and a behaviour stance regarding a students difficulties, and through developing a professional and warm relationship with the student I would be able to interpret and understand the emotional as well as practical barriers to their learning. Through a collaborative stance, these barriers can be managed on a repetitive and consistent basis.
Being an Occupational Therapist the suggestopedia approach appeals to my nature. Occupational therapy uses occupation as a therapy goal as well as a therapy tool, thus combining activity with learning is a natural approach for me and one that I would be skilled to implement. I have seen activity used to break down barriers and help people progress in therapy and in life, and thus I am inclined to imagine this technique when applied correctly could help people learn. My teaching style would also take into account the need to balance receptive and productive skills and for that reason it would include the communicative approach and utilise the structure of goal, input and activity.
The teaching process/ my syllabus
My syllabus would be function based as well as grammar based. I would alternate the used of a more communicative method, with the use of the suggestopedia approach. During the initial 45 minutes grammar structures can be learnt through speaking structures. The topics can also be covered in more breadth and in a logical way during this time. Following this a 30-45 minute session using the suggestopedia approach would allow the student to learn through induction and create a more natural and free form of learning. This creative part of the session would encourage students to enjoy the language learning and allow them to be the drivers of their own experience and goals.
The type of learning material needed depends on the learning style of the individual. Some learners may rely on visual learning. Traditionally this may be related to written text, however symbols and visual prompts also contribute to the learning experience. I do agree with the Oxbridge method of decreasing the amount of written text used in the classroom however for some learners this may need to be a transition, away from more traditional techniques, to a more verbal method. I would however utilise symbolism, with pictures and demonstrative displays in order to explain words and concepts quickly and effectively. As discussed above utilising stimulus such as music or painting is another way that learning materials can be used.
Attitude of the teacher
Finally the attitude of the teacher is key as projecting enough energy and motivation into the classroom is paramount in order to create an environment where students are keen to learn and engage. While using only speaking throughout the lesson, this is particularly important as the teaching "tool" is your own voice, and ideas. The teacher is responsible for creating the learning environment as well as the structural outline and the content of the class material. Therefore the attitude of the teacher has a direct impact on the learning environment and thus the students ability to learn. By behaving in a friendly and engaging way the teacher is able to make the students feel at ease and create a relaxed and focused environment which is conducive to learning while having fun.. I would incorporate the use of authentic materials, such a up to date and relevant topics. A wide range of media would be used in order to stimulate the learner, and make the classroom more interesting. Corrections and praise would also be a significant part of the teaching facilitation. I would pay attention to the appropriateness of the corrections, and the need to balance this with a students emotional state. I would use praise as a tool for motivation throughout the session, and for groups incorporate a non competitive and supportive environment.