My English Teaching Approach
Language acquisition is one of the main quintessential human traits because non-humans don’t communicate using language. Language, though highly diversified, it is the most important attribute of verbal communication which assures a relatively high level of accuracy in its meaning and assimilation. The divergence of language has however remained the commonest hindrance to effective communication often between people of different geographical and cultural background.
Second language acquisition, often a global language, has been the most effective solution to verbal communication barriers, as individuals with knowledge of a common global language are able to communicate verbally without many interruptions. English language is the commonest global language and in very high demand by non-speakers as globalization is on the rise and this has led to the birth of TEFL.
Several methods of English teaching have been proposed and some of these methods have undergone dramatic evolution in attempt to provide the best strategy to teaching English as a foreign language. In as much as some of these methods have been proven to be efficient, there is always a need to improve on these methods. In this essay, I will first give a review of some of the most important methods and then propose my own method of teaching English effectively.
The grammar-translation method is a method of teaching foreign languages derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin. In grammar-translation classes, students learn grammatical rules and then apply those rules by translating sentences between the target language and their native language. This method is the least approved method for second language teaching as it doesn’t encourage practice and students therefore through this method fail to get proficiency in English language approximating their L1.
The Direct Method of learning a language involves a non-communicative way that uses target/L2 language, which is a step by step and limited process that considers the correct translation to be of the most importance. The underlying principle of using the target language will enable the student to use inductive or deductive reasoning for identifying grammatical rules without having to provide an explanation of the rules that are used. The Berlitz method combines both the direct and the audio-lingual approach combining listening and speaking and later reading and writing. Though quite unusual and non- traditional, the direct method is considered by many to be more adaptive and popular with students who wanted to learn a foreign language without having to be too concerned about grammatical translation.
The Audio-lingual Method was widely used in the 1950s and 1960s, and the emphasis was not on the understanding of words, but rather on the acquisition of structures and patterns in common everyday dialogue. These patterns are elicited, repeated and tested until the responses given by the student in the foreign language are automatic.
The silent way is a methodology of teaching language based on the idea that teachers should be as silent as possible during a class but learners should be encouraged to speak as much as possible. As with other methods and approaches, however, aspects of Silent Way can be observed in many lessons in the modern classroom. In the 1980s and early 90s, for example, it became fashionable in some quarters to argue that excessive "teacher talking time" was something to be discouraged. The problem-solving feature of Silent
Way may well prove to be its most enduring legacy as it has led indirectly both to the idea of Task-based Learning and to the widespread use of problem-solving activities in language classrooms.
Suggestopedia is also a teaching model developed by a Bulgarian, Dr. Georgi Lozanov, and basically eliminates negative barriers to learning. There are two phases incorporated in this approach: Students learn new information very quickly and efficiently in a state of light relaxation accompanied by Baroque or classical music. This new material which has been acquired 3 to 5 times faster than with traditional learning techniques, is now stored passively in the brain. It is then activated by means of creative, interactive and communicative learning techniques, i.e. grammar games, role play, etc. which contribute not only to recall and retention but also to the communication skills and personality development of the students.
Total physical response is based on the theory that the memory is enhanced through association with physical movement. It is also closely associated with theories of mother tongue language acquisition in very young children, where they respond physically to parental commands, such as "Pick it up" and "Put it down". TPR as an approach to teaching a second language is based, first and foremost, on listening and this is linked to physical actions which are designed to reinforce comprehension of particular basic items. It is an example of the comprehension approach to language teaching. Methods in the comprehension approach emphasize the importance of listening on language development, and do not require spoken output in the early stages of learning. In total physical response, students are not forced to speak. Instead, teachers wait until students acquire enough language through listening that they start to speak spontaneously.
My personal approach to teaching English incorporates methods that will be able to yield a fitting and more efficient L2 acquisition process. The approach will basically take advantage of multiple intelligences such as musical, visual and kinetic exercises to involve all areas of the brain in effective English teaching to elicit communicative competence in students. I will also employ total physical response in teaching my students, especially low-level students and children since it provides the best tool for learning and using new target language.
This approach will not be solely concentrated on speaking and listening but also on reading and writing, with much emphasis on the speaking and listening activities especially for low-level students. This way will ensure that all aspects of both receptive and productive skills are acquired.
Before planning any approach to teaching English, one important thing is to analyze students' difficulties and also figure out why the student wants to learn a language. Once I figure this out, I will then focus my attention around that. I will then move on to elicit what the student perceives as a difficulty, a challenge, an obstacle to achieve his goal and then build the right syllabus with the use of the right methodology to help him achieve his goal. Teaching motivated students assures a high productivity in L2 acquisition, Due to this, I will ensure students’ motivation and engagement before learning a specific topic, structure, or vocabulary.
If their main motivation is to communicate at work or travelling, I will keep reminding them how, what I am teaching, will help them communicate at work or when travelling. If a student is anxious and nervous he won't learn so it is very important to build rapport, I will maintain eye contact, call students by their names, smile, find something I genuinely like about the student and tell them. If a student is not motivated, I will engage him by choosing topics that he finds interesting, I will present topic in an interesting way for him, i.e. varying my tone and speed and moving to the next activity on a high.
Knowledge of students L1 is a very important tool in teaching L2. Common features of L1 are normally transferred to L2, with my knowledge of L1, I will be able to curtail the problem of language interference. I will also focus on developing the learner’s preexisting knowledge whether linguistic or lived experiences. I will make an attempt to discover and exploit this knowledge from the outset by surveying my students’ experiences. Then I encourage my students to capitalize on their strengths and experiences in order to develop their English abilities.
The preparation of an effective syllabus is the most important task of every teacher. I will plan my syllabus with different activities based on students’ level of proficiency and age factor. These activities will however be concentrating on one or more of structures, topics and vocabulary, marching that of the Oxbridge triangle.
S1 syllabus will mainly be based on selected basic vocabulary activities. P2 syllabus will also focus more on structure and vocabulary activities, with some basic topic activities with lots of practice of target language. Since L1 will not be used in my class, I will use a lot of pictures and gestures in teaching.
P3 and P4 activities will however concentrate on all three aspects, i.e. structure, vocabulary and topic with a little more emphasis on topic activities which will help students to practice more target language in context. At this stage, writing and reading skills will be developed but much attention will be given to speaking and listening skills. I will use music and video as part of the activities, with drilling and lots of repetition. I will also provide the learner with the target language in writing, as I believe seeing the word helps to remember it.
Student-teacher interaction in class is one of the most important factors in ensuring a workable and efficient language teaching. In view of this I will incorporate proper attitudes that will foster a conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning. Below are some attitudes I will put up in class.
I will ensure a relaxed atmosphere in class by playing and laughing with my students through games, role plays and songs that will bring variety and remove tension from learners.
Calling students by name has also been proven to be very effective in ensuring a good teacher-student interaction. I will try as much as possible to call my students by their names and also get a more personal relationship with them; this way will build trust and rapport with students. Other attitudes include, being well prepared for class, giving clear instructions and maintaining an educational tone, praising and encouraging students and adopt a good correction code in order not to undermine students’ confidence.
The following are methods I will adopt to create an attractive physical classroom environment. I will make effective use of bulletin boards and display areas. These are excellent for displaying students' work, such as collaborative tasks and projects. Posters, maps, newspaper clippings, will be used in order to provide a stimulus for classroom discussion.