Language learning and teaching have existed from time immemorial. But in the modern times there has been a lot of analysis and research on the different techniques which can be used to make the learning process easier and interesting for the learner. While the traditional methods have been more rigid in its presentation of structure and grammatical patterns, most of the popular modern methods stress more on the active usage of the language in real life situations. Most modern methods present the real functions of the language actively and learners are allowed to devise, associate or remember the meaning by its usage. Therefore if the learners know the meaning and the functions there is actually little need of the structure to be explained explicitly.
Hereby I propose a teaching approach for the teaching of English as L2 . As said it is a proposal and the TEFL teachers may modify it according to their own needs. The goal of this approach is to motivate the learners to use the L2 as much as possible. This has to be achieved through the focus on productive skills i.e. speaking and writing, speaking being the prime objective of the approach as it the most used skill in any language. Being able to speak good a language is also a factor for the motivation for the learner to use and interact more in the language. Also it is evident that prior to speaking there has to be a minimum and necessary input to develop the receptive skills. Here also the focus is on listening and understanding of the L2. Teacher carefully provides the necessary inputs in a simpler manner as the inability to understand the L2 inputs can lead to frustration and disappointment.
It is also very necessary for the teacher to understand the needs of the learners. This is to be done in a direct manner like a questionnaire, interview etc. Due to certain reasons the students might not be able to communicate their needs in the beginning but most of the times teacher may be able to foresee the real needs as his interaction with the learners increases. But one thing is very clear when the L2 is English. English has become an international language without barriers and being proficient in English gives a guarantee that its user can communicate almost all around the world. Therefore most of the learners seek to use the L2 in daily life situations and being able to interact in it.
Our teacher’s role is also important in the process of language teaching. A human teacher is far more capable than computers or machines to analyze the various factors which surround the learner and might affect the acquisition process. Accordingly the teacher adjusts his role whenever he interacts with different learners. He will always try to be friendly and patient in his interactions with the learners. He will not be imposing, authoritative or dominant as the traditional teachers but at the same time be a model source of knowledge and inspiration for the learners. There are certain factors which are outside the teacher’s control but might affect the learning process like trauma, anxiety etc. Personality traits of different learners as individual also affect the process of language acquisition; extrovert learners will tend to interact more and thus may use more the L2 whereas the introvert learners will be shy and hesitant resulting in lesser interaction and less acquisition of L2 as whole or certain parts of it. The teachers are therefore advised to have a psychological approach to analyze them and adapt their teaching style accordingly. It is also necessary that they have patience and give enough thinking and analyzing time to the learners. The teacher should actively monitor that the silent times are because of thinking and not because of non-awareness of the learner. In case of latter the teacher will try to maintain the dynamism of the class. This can be achieved through rephrasing the question in a simplified manner or putting up a different question altogether. But later in the activity attempt should be made to reintroduce the elements which earlier seemed complicated to the learner.
In this approach the student’s role should be that of an active communicator and he should have enough opportunity to practice the language functions. For the beginner a little imitation of the sounds and phrases is also necessary to get started in L2. The acquisition of L2 may vary among the learner due to various reasons it is therefore difficult to predict how much time they can take to reach the desired level. The inputs provided to the learners should be graded according to the levels and should stimulate the thinking in L2 and its usage. As this approach is meant to make the student learn effective communication emphasis is more on the student really use the language function in real life situations.
A good approach to language teachings needs a good syllabus with defined objectives. No matter how good a teacher is if there are no planned objectives the process is going to be messy and confusing without a syllabus. Almost all the modern popular methods are using less of grammar and more of the functions of the language. We propose a syllabus arranged on language functions in different situations with defined skills objectives. While more stress is to be paid on more productive skill but other skills like reading and writing are also promoted at a higher level when the learners demonstrate better speaking and listening skills. The language and structure section in the syllabus will be based on CEFR (Common European Framework for Languages) which grades up structure according to their level which range from A1 to C2. As most of the L2 learners may also wish to appear in one of the official exams of English proficiency which are also usually based on the CEFR parameters.
Lesson planning for this approach will be based on the objectives defined in the syllabus. The optimal length of a lesson should be 1 hour to 90 minutes. The activities presented should be balanced and not try to overstress any area of the language so that it becomes tedious or tiring. One thing which is also important during the lessons is the Teacher’s Talking Time (TTT). Teacher should limit as much as he can the TTT so that the students get more opportunity to use the language and interact in it. This will certainly boost the confidence and ultimately the proficiency in L2. The lesson plans are to be designed according to the needs of the different levels e.g. in the beginner level some need of drilling, repetition is necessary, all the function chosen for the beginners need to be the most common and basic functions for a conversation. Lesson planning in this approached are inspired by the Jeremy Harmer’s theory of Engage Study and Activate. The lessons should provide some input which are provocative and encourage the learners to think about the usage in real life conditions. After the input part there should be studying part where the students should study and analyze the new structure or the grammar points introduced. The last part is when the learners intend to use the language in an independent manner. A sample lesson plan intended for Lower Intermediate level would be as follows-
Issue/Situation-In the city
Sub issue-Asking for directions.
Function- Asking giving directions to a place.
Structure- Preposition of location and direction.
Listening- Listen to audio and write down the directions.
Interaction- Explain the directions to your partner or other classmates.
Role-play activity- Each student picks up a place from a given map and asks for directions and the other student explains it.
Also the material to be used in the class has to be intuitive and support the learning process. Apart from the traditional books and notebooks other interesting materials like posters, flashcards, audios and videos are to be used. According to age factor some material might be more useful than others therefore our approach uses more entertaining material like songs and games for the young learner while for the adults other kind of multimedia activities like conversation video or audio based on the situation. Nowadays there are also various textbooks based on different methods and approach which also can be used.
For the proper acquisition of the language the teacher will also monitor and evaluate the learner’s progress. The evaluation process can be direct through an exam or through observing the performance in the class. In case of deficiency the learners are to be subjected to corrections. Corrections can be directly supplied by the teacher or the students can be prompted to correct themselves. This way they become more aware of the corrections and will automatically avoid doing them in the future. In our approach the errors need to be identified according to their severity, recurrence and its impact on the communication. Then accordingly the corrections are to be provided to the learners. While correcting teachers will have in account the effects of interlanguage, which is a natural occurrence in the acquisition of L2.
Any approach in the teaching of L2 cannot claim to be perfect and needs to be ever improving and dynamic. The teachers as its users need to evaluate and if need arises criticize it to provide suggestions for its improvement. It’s the teacher who in their practice can really evaluate the progress in the learner and the success of the approach. The teachers can openly advise the modification of any of the elements of the approach by citing suitable reasons. This approach has to be a modern approach which evolves itself according to the needs of the learners.