Learning a new language will always be challenging. Different methodologies have been developed through the years to facilitate the learning process. These methods have been concentrating mostly on how to teach a language, not how to learn a language. Learning a language is personal and combines personal motivation with the reason to learn; a personal interest, work or study related etc. For that reason there cannot be one method suitable for everybody at the same time and fulfill the needs of every individual. Learning itself depends on the method executed and the group it has been directed to. In this essay I am going to analyze a number of methods in order to come up with the solution that would be successful to execute the process of learning a language for the selected target group.
Acquisition is learning a language while making no conscious effort learning it and this takes place in a natural environment. Usually this refers to infants who are learning their mother tongue. Learning in natural environment clearly has a big impact and also has inspired to create methods to teach L2. Language immersion is one of the many example where the main concept is to teach school subjects such as history, biology etc. For adult learners this creates s a comfortable environment, and makes learning easier as they are going through material which is familiar from their previous studies. For a young learner such methods often tend to be complicated as they will be learning material which is new to them and is in foreign language. This method can easily create frustration and failure in young learners.
There is an approach which seeks to eliminate failure and frustration in a more comfortable way of learning. For example interlanguage is a style of teaching where native language is allowed in the classroom in order to ease the learning process. Often problematic, mainly among adults, learning L2 interferes with their learning process combined with other known languages. This style has its good and bad sides. For beginners it might be useful to use L1 in order to understand the basic concept of L2. On the other hand this way of learning can become confusing especially if it comes to the grammar where the two languages might be totally different by its structure and also differ from each other in the way of speaking. This can slow down the learning process when learners start to associate L2 with L1. Usage of L1 to teach L2 has to be very carefully planned out and should be eliminated from the classroom communication slowly over time when a student has reached the basic level and has a clear idea of the concept of L2.
A teacher is responsible for the learning-teaching process and acts out various roles and also decides the syllabus of the class. A teacher’s role is not only to direct and manage the class but also to be a partner for the learners- a playmaker. In the past and in many methods the teacher’s role was to be the authority of the class, not much empathy or sympathy was shown. The teachers input was not as considered as today teacher has many different roles which have to be put in act according to the practiced style and necessity. Comprehensible input is one of the importance’s that teacher have to practice especially with young learners and beginners in order to help students to understand the subject and also to inject the confidence and comfort towards learning. Essential for the teacher, most of all is to understand the process of learning not only the way of teaching. For that matter teachers put themself to the level of the students and try to identify the students’ needs and level of motivation.
In Total Physical Response the teacher’s role is to be the leader and instructor. Main features that TPR hold are:
This method is effective practiced on young children. Kids of young age express themselves naturally through body language and movement. Combined with others this method can be fun and engaging and also ensures students attention and relaxation. For adult learners this method could have the opposite effect as many adults find it difficult and embarrassing to express themselves through these methods. They might also find it more difficult to start speaking because of the mental barriers and fear of failure. Syllabuses in that method do not include much grammar and it might be difficult to explain the structure and the concept of L2 using TPR.
In a way very similar to the previous method; teacher talking time has taken over the student talking time. Main features of Audio- Lingual Method:
Executing this method the learners are the copiers of the language. This method restricts the student to study the language instead of learning it. This method would work well as one part of the class activity. It surely helps student to get the right pronunciation and form clear ideas of how to use the language in a daily context, not very creative nor flexible but effective.
Teenagers are probably not the most motivated to learn but they are the fastest to absorb a new language. Teaching has to create environment where students feel interested and engaged which are reflected by the results which are better than any other age group. Teenagers personalities yet to be fully developed they are still copying from the surroundings. This gives the teacher more freedom to plan the activities and use of different methods.
Many subjects can be interesting for a teenager when they are presented in an exciting way. To plan a syllabus for teenagers I would combine the TPS, The Audio- Lingual method, The Berlitz Method and The Oxbridge system. As teenagers become motivated by fun and humor TPS in some cases might be very effective. The Audio-Lingual method could build up the correct of pronunciation and also create a confidence in them. The Berlitz method for teenagers I would use to bring in the vocabulary with a attempt combining it with The Audio-Lingual method. In terms of activities practicing the AL, I would suggest a lot of pair/group activities where learners have to come up with their own dialogues related to daily situations which they then present to the class according to the method, under the teacher supervision and suggestions.
Teenagers I believe need a strong grammar base in order to understand the basic concept of L2 and that is why I would use the Oxbridge system and the AL where no native language will be used. The grammar activities will not be very explicit but practiced with examples in conversations and followed by the structural pattern. TTT and STT will be equally balanced in order to guide the learners in planned instructions this also encourages the learner to communicate and they can commit vocabulary errors without reproach. Teacher role is changing according to the class and activities.
To summarize- learning a language is not only knowing how to communicate instead it should be balanced with understanding and communication, as this is not always a means to understand. I believe that learning a new language listening, speaking, writing, and reading have to be equally taught. While planning a syllabus the essential is to start with the basic concept which I consider to be grammar. Grammar should also be equally taught with examples and with explicit rules. Reading and writing are important while trying to understand books or any written material, knowing how to speak does not mean that the text is understood which is a part of communication.