One Aspect of My Approach to Teaching English
English is a universal language that is utilized by commerce, science, technology, and computers. It’s also the official language of air transport and shipping and a major medium for education. This is why we want to teach this useful language to people, because it will increase communication and job opportunities. In fact, the graduates of language schools are amongst the most likely to go on to full employment. Its use is varied and diverse, so to teach it is a pleasure and the learning experience for students should be as well.
When the material utilized in the learning process provides endless possibilities, it can almost go unnoticed that you are learning; but by deploying techniques that use everyday, common knowledge that taps into the feelings of an individual and channels familiarity, emotions are engaged and the learning subsequently flows in a more fluid naturalistic manner. The way in which we teach students from an inverted perspective will be examined, encouraging them to be their own guides and to lead each other into their own debates. Here we will be able to ascertain when students are unconsciously using vocabulary and find the answers to grammatical questions as they arise. If a teaching system is less complicated and based on real-world scenario comprehension and communication, then the later complex components will follow just as they did when we first learn't our mother tongue creating a more organic learning process
This essay will seek to investigate the application of this apparently simple formula to learning English as a foreign language and how the teachers and students can function more like a team that aims to reach their objectives together. This means that it becomes almost like a game: fun to get to the next level and the students will get excited about progressing through the course.
In my approach to teaching English I would want the students to develop communication skills and to do this via subjects that are already of interest (firstly through popular culture and later through a syllabus created according to specific research about the students learning needs) or information necessary for work and leisure time.
The students would take turns to observe each other in scenarios, being receptive to what is taking place in order to produce their own part in the exercise later. This would then feed off of the other students’ ideas and subsequently self-perpetually propel itself through to a receptive and productive conclusion. Communication and pronunciation would be most important, and students will be communicating in L2 from the beginning.
The syllabus will be based on listening, speaking and some reading. Also, before research on the students’ requirements can be made there will need to be previously produced material based on current trends in order to start the scenarios. Primary grammar points will be observed via these, as will the primary factors of speaking and listening. Throughout, these skills will be explored by complete immersion in the scenario, all senses will be stimulated as a mixture of structures, vocab, dialogue, situation, lexical and pronunciation will also be covered in this type of syllabus.
The exercises can change from being a topic to a more improvisational activity (without it seeming like an activity). Beginning with a situation taken from real life where text is read, an outsider then enters the scenario, shaking things up a bit, and a new skill has to be used to continue the dialogue. Later on another scenario takes place where a new structure is needed to fill in the gaps. This can then lead on (like a snowball effect) to the added vocabulary required to form a conversation because that certain structure was already explored within the role-play situation. This way different types of language learning are taking place and thinking in the target language is unavoidable.
At the beginning I would provide the students with questions so that if they get stuck through the session they can ask:
“What do you mean by xxxx?
I don’t know what is a/an xxxx?
Do you believe this story?
Eg: “What do you mean by COHERENTLY?”
This way, we use the target language by giving the students the questions first so they end up being the ones who pick a selection of the key words they learn.
Imagine you’re at home; describe what you see around you…
Now, you have to go out and get the paper. Open the door, leave the house.
What do you see on the way?
At the news kiosk you see a lady and she starts talking to you about what the neighbourhood was like many years ago. She won’t stop talking, but a news article suddenly catches your eye:
“Missing woman suddenly found after seven years after being supposedly abducted by real life Elves”
Here I would present one student with the role of the old lady by guiding them. I would say; “So, do you remember any time when you’ve been talked to by a stranger and they won’t stop? Imagine you are that person…”
Then another student would take on the role of the person attempting to buy the newspaper.
The teacher will then come in as a prompt when overhearing the news story:
“Really? What did they do to her? What happened? “
The news story text is provided and the students read it out. By remaining in character, they can add their own personality into the piece. This will inject spontaneity and add a sense of fun to the lesson.
Do elves really exist? How did she lose her ability to speak coherently? Did they teach her to speak elvish?
I would highlight important words to ensure the students understand their meaning.
The teacher can also coax other students/characters into the scene and if it begins to stall would then describe the word in question. If they still don’t get it the teacher will play the role him/herself.
They finish up the conversation and the man who bought the paper makes his way home after politely trying to extricate himself from the conversation. On the way home he sees his neighbour and he invites him round for the evening.
In the next part students role-play the appropriate things to do in order to get ready for an evening at a friends house: use initiative, buy a bottle, have a shower if you need to, get your flatmate/partner to come along etc (this is all part of the role so the student has to describe what is going on here).
Two of the students are the guests getting ready and the rest of the students are at the “other house”, preparing snacks etc… After greetings (not necessary in class) they then start a conversation about the story in the paper from the previous scene.
Teacher, lets play a game: Guess Who. Write the name of a celebrity/individual on paper and stick it to one of the guests’ head. Game begins. Each student gets a celebrity/individual.
The last Guess Who mystery person would be linked to the topic discussed earlier (in this case Elf is the Guess Who answer) initiating a new response from the students and rounding up what they recalled from the scenario in a fun way.
The structure could take on the form of a TV show so the beginning could involve explaining the rules and preparing the students and then instigating a feedback session in the epilogue.
The teacher’s role is to go in there as a guide prompting students to progress from one scenario to the other as if going from place to place in a game where you move through levels and complete different tasks. The teacher assumes a passive role after a while and coerces the students to take the lead and/or initiative themselves. The whole class, including the teacher, then ends up becoming one group in a real time role-play situation. Corrections would be applied as and when necessary; either instantly if needed, or at the end of the session when corrections can be dealt with out of context and re-addressed.
The students’ role is to be both passive agents and participators. They would receive instructions but also assume the lead role. For example, they would take turns to be spectators of the scenarios, being receptive to what is going on in order to create their own part in the exercise later.
I am aiming to execute an all round learning experience without it seeming like a chore. It will be fun, engaging and they would want more as a result.
I would use authentic material and realia. On occasion a video from advert length to a three-minute clip about a topic of great interest could be used. Here for example, it could be on someone’s TV at the party and something becomes a subject of interest in the role-play. I would also try to include some of my own activities and games that would fit in with the complete scenario. They can be adapted for different levels: simplifying stories or on the other end using complex situations. Generally a whole day in the role-play game would take the duration of the class. Each class could then consist of a different day of the week, with real and imagined situations incorporated into the class.
When looking at the student’s reason for learning, as a pre-empted approach I would look at cultural trends and language transferral from their mother tongue at the outset and then investigate the experience with the students and their needs. During the class questions revealing personal needs and likes will be asked and then behavior and personality will be monitored for relevant information to produce future bespoke lesson plans. I would remember their difficulties, then guide them with simple solutions. The students as a whole could then produce a pattern of repeated learning outcomes and difficulties that I can pre-empt and guide so they can reach a new collective (or individual) understanding.
When considering different age groups they could be easily incorporated into the scenarios as everyone has their place in the world and these sessions serve as a reflection of real-world situations. The advantage of the semi-improvised role-play session is that as it is reflecting the real world in the target language everyone has an innate ability to craft a response (even if it’s a struggle to actually say it!) We are all human after all and we all have the same human responses meaning that if anyone has difficulty speaking, others help because we all instinctively know how to do these things. Therefore igniting these mechanisms and working together will make learning a language not only possible but enjoyable for everyone.