Different methodologies arose from a need to adapt the system of teaching foreign languages to the requirements of contemporary reality. It did not appear overnight, but developed gradually, along with the expansion of the borders. Mobility of the population, the change in the purpose of going abroad, the need for international cooperation. These and other factors indicate that it is necessary to revise the current system language education, adapt to the new social and economic conditions and different cultures. Methodology I would like to present is one that in my opinion answers all above mentioned aspects. It is methodology of language learning based on situations and topics. The primary skill that will used to achieve learning goals will be speaking. Learning a language is actually acquiring it through experiences. Experiencing situations that will await students in the real world will give them ability to think, analyze and use material learned. It will be done by subconscious use of knowledge gained in class and ability to use that knowledge in specific situation. Each class will have a main subject (either topic or situation) which is going to be explained by using different activities. Activities will include: structures (grammar), new words to be learned (target language), as well as communication part in which students are required to use previously learned knowledge ( in structure and target language activities) to master their communication skills. The communication part will be consisted of a reading, listening and most importantly speaking exercises. Students will be required to read with comprehension as well as listen to teacher and their colleagues. As in direct method I will emphasize productive skills as opposed to receptive. Productive skills are essential tools used in communication. Through the knowledge of productive skills, the receptive skills will be easily developed. For example through focusing on reading skills students will develop writing skills more efficiently.
Syllabus of the methodology will be consisted of most common situations that person can encounter. This approach is consistent with Berlitz idea of teaching real life situations. For example: taking a public transportation, going grocery shopping, going to a dentist etc. Then that situation will become the main subject of the lesson. Learning objective is for student to learn and practice communication and behavior in that specific situation. Example of a lesson plan. Lets say lesson’s situation is “Dental Visit”. First step would be to make students aware of vocabulary they will encounter when they will need to go to the dentist. As we know person’s capability of learning is limited, hence we will give our students no more than 10 new words to practice. We go over those words with students trying to elicit the meaning from the student. To achieve this objective I will use the Total Physical Response approach where students use all of their senses to learn. The approach is fun and students have ability to experience other ways of learning. Use of kinesics (body language, facial expressions and gestures) will help students avoiding language transfer. This idea will more specifically target kids. Once I establish the meanings of new target language words, I will move to practice them in a context related to the main subject/situation (dental visit). I will ask students to construct sentences, questions, positive and negative answers with target language words, making sure the meaning of the words in context will be appropriate for later usage in structure and topic parts. Using of drills, games , matching activities and role playing will be used limitedly in the vocabulary part.
Next part on the lesson plan will be structure exercises. The idea is for students to acquire different structures in each lesson. Also students are required to use the target language learnt in previous part. So in the example of structure activity would be practicing present perfect tense, regarding your dental history, experience, aches etc.
The last part of the class will be the application and practice of the new vocabulary and structure into the real life situation. For example student is playing a role of a patient with a toothache. Or he is in a dental office to get his yearly check up, but it is his first time in that particular office so he / she has to explain and tell about his previous dental treatments. In this part main focus is on speaking, the communication ability of students. Students here are required to maximize their talking time and teacher is there as an adviser and only to make sure proper use of language and context is observed.
Before any class can start teacher has to be able to build a good rapport with students. Teacher should use eye contact to establish trust. Setting up the classroom so that students are not intimidated, sitting at the same level as students will help teacher with relaxing the atmosphere, which is important for efficient outcomes. Teacher should always look presentable and MUST always come prepared to class. Especially at the beginning of the course. There is only one chance of a first impression.
Being able to assess student knowledge is essential for placing the student in a proper level. That should be done either through writing assessment or it can be resolved through conversation. The conversation or writing assessment must include questions that will present student’s knowledge. Based on the ability of student he should be directed to the proper level.
Very important factor in learning process is classroom size. The more students in the group the less chance there is for practice. I would consider 5-6 person group an optimal one. In this case students will have ability not only to practice material, but also to interact with each other. That will help them to adapt to different points of view and will enable them to anticipate unexpected when faced with real life situations.
Teacher should have a positive attitude towards the material presented. It is essential that students feel confident that what the teacher is about to present is actually useful. Many people have their own ideas of teachers, and remember approaches of teachers they encountered throughout the years. They normally remember the bad approaches that leave different types of impediments. Teacher should always look for ways to overcome them. One way to succeed in that is using motivation. Praising students when they sincerely did good work will motivate them to work harder next time. It will also build good relationship between teacher and student. Good teacher also needs to establish teaching as well as learning goals. He / she needs to know the reason why student is sitting in front of him / her.
Use of materials in my method will be vital. As our approach focuses on real life it is important that we come as close to real life environment as possible. For instance, if your lesson focuses on “Ordering take out”, maybe you can bring an actual menu from your favorite restaurant and use it to practice ordering food. We want to establish this idea that what we teach is actually useful instead of just being a dry material. Teachers are required to use as many authentic material as possible.
One of more difficult aspects of teaching is error correction. It is important for teacher to adapt and judge if, when, what, and how often to correct a student. There is no one correct way. Teacher should understand that the main objective of the approach is for students to be able to communicate. Having that in mind he needs to make sure that all major errors and mistakes, which will pose a danger of misunderstanding, need to be addressed right away. With others teacher should use common sense. Another difficulty that teacher faces is using on a mother language by students. As it comes to lower levels, students are allowed limited use of L1, only as a last resort. For levels higher than a beginner, there should be no usage of native tongue whatsoever.
Material of a course will get progressively harder and more complicated. For instance at the beginning level we can go over a simple way of communicating for policeman (lets say when we are pulled over). The same situation can come up in a higher level, but this time we are not just pulled over. We are being questioned in a murder case that we haven’t committed. Obviously it requires from student much broader knowledge of structures and vocabulary. Courses for kids would be prepared accordingly (for example “buying a ticket in a cinema”, “candy shopping” etc.
To conclude, the approach’s key objective is for students to practice communication in real life situations, in the controlled environment of the classroom.