Building English Understanding: From
The Underground Up
In developing the
best possible teaching method, theorists often cut corners in order to expedite
the learning process; however, I feel it is best to pursue a more holistic and
natural approach by teaching how to think
in English. Thought is the root of all language and therefore, it follows that,
the truest approach to learning English can only be through cultivating
understanding. Teaching to understanding in English, the same way a child
learns to understand life in terms of their first language, allows the learner an
educational journey on an, albeit longer, but sturdier road. Moreover, teaching
of thought offers the most holistic understanding of English, second only to
the understanding of a native speaker.
Methods such as
Grammar-Translation create shortcuts by distilling a language down to a set of
rules. The Direct Method in turn is a practical but somewhat lacking in depth.
While the former method wrongly esteems the mastery of the analytics of English
to be a useful goal, the latter teaches communication but without laying a
strong structural foundation. Teaching understanding necessarily achieves all
of that which the aforementioned methods cannot: it teaches the same depth as
Grammar-Translation while including the breadth of the Direct Method.
In order to
understand anything, one must be sensitive to the pertinent clues at one’s
disposal. In order to gain this sensitivity, students should be flooded with
quality English. Generally, the best way to immerse the students sufficiently
is through various forms of media, beginning with television and graduating to
good audiobooks followed by literature as soon as possible. The idea behind
this is to expose students to plenty of English that can later be referred back
to in lessons. Through English literature, the student will also begin to grasp
much more of the culture, which surrounds the English language as a whole.
to an abundance of proper English instills in them the model of proper sentence
structure. Knowing what sounds right structurally is the most important aspect
to learning English. Once a student has an ear for structure all other aspects
fall into place on their own. As soon as possible, an English teacher should
work with the students on sentence structure with great heed to any hint of
language transfer (the supplication of native language structure to English) that
creeps into the classroom. Depending on the situation and the level of the
students, the teacher may employ basic exercises using cards to be moved into
their structurally right order, or conversation that encourages the use of a
certain sentence structures. Ideally, the students will learn to become
the staple tool of a good teacher. A teacher should always praise rather than
admonish while leading as uninhibited a class atmosphere as possible. It is
crucial that students make errors freely as only by being fully aware of
students’ weaknesses can teachers strengthen them. In order to create such an
atmosphere the teacher must befriend the students and take personal interest in
each of them individually. To establish such a connection while allowing the
students to distance themselves from their mistakes, roles should be taken on
by both the teacher and the students. The extent to which roleplaying is
practiced in class is left up to the teacher’s discretions. If the roleplaying
is generally seen as the heart of the class, the more trivial the student’s
mistakes will seem. Be careful though, while it is better if the students see
the class as a game, the teachers must always know the game to be a class. In
other words, although it is important that students be fully immersed in their
roles, they are paying for class, not dungeons and dragons.
Begin with a little movement such as a yoga session of several sun salutations
in order to wake up your body.
Directly follow up movement with rapid-fire question in order to wake up the
dog is that?
you bring donuts today?
the story have a happy ending?
your friend coming?
you buy some blue fish?
“will” to express promises.
promises and then ask students in turn.
will you do this weekend?
out to eat.
Free Discussion (in roles):
the homework. For example: Gonzo (fake name), what do you think will happen
next to Tom Sawyer?
Discuss future homework. Answer comments, questions and concerns.
Practice closing recitation.
aside, from a practical standpoint, this method differs most obviously in it
heavy reliance on homework. This work is never writing or exercises. It is
always a combination of reading, watching television or movies, or listening to
audiobooks. The idea is to replace normal leisure activities with the same
activities in English. Media immersion is the means by which student, little by
little; deepen their understanding, on both a cultural and a linguistic level.
the classroom the teacher should always be a model and guide, but never, if at
all possible, an authority. The teacher, sentence structure aside, should not
directly correct most mistakes. The teacher must learn to understand the
students’ inter-language on an intellectual level in order to be able to
rightly address the weaknesses of his or her their students. If the teacher
meditates on their students and actively seeks the best way to teach them
individually, the students’ progress will be greatly accelerated.
attitude and other undesirable affective mood or personality factors can be
quick mitigated by a perspicacious teacher. The best means of countering such
negative classroom influences is naturally role-play. Directly telling a
student to stop sulking can have plenty of adverse affects. Roleplaying allows
difficult students to save face.
means of staying on point with even the easiest students is through one-on-one
check ups. These occasionally reviews give students the individual attention
they need. These reviews also should also be treated as informal tests. Since
students will not be focusing on writing, assessments must all be oral and it
is best it is also best that students be assessed privately. These reviews
offer an excellent opportunity for such an assessment. Additionally, the better
the teacher knows his or her students, the sooner the teacher will know when
the student is ready to focus on productive skills.
Teacher student relationships
are by nature professional, but it is rather better if it they casual and deep.
Understanding a student as a learner and understanding a student as a person
are really one and the same; they are two sides of a single coin. Because of
this this, a strong bond linking the teacher and student is capital.
Roots. They are
the paramount factor in teaching English. In a linguistic sense, the roots are
sentence structure. Vocabulary is the trunk, while everything else, such as
pronunciation, conjugation and even semantics to a point, are the leaves.
Similarly, if a teacher to student relationship is superficial it, like the
leaves, will wither, die and fall in time. If the relationship is deeply
rooted, trivial factors such as the weather will be trivial. A deep-rooted
class friendship directly supports the students learning, but it also garners a
richer life to everyone concerned. In tandem, deep linguistic and friendly
roots lead to a deeper, better English education.
begin with several months of TV before even beginning to learn English. Once
students have been “primed,” regular class should begin. Of course basic structure
should be covered before anything else; however, once this has been covered, the
teacher should feel free to move more into vocabulary and other grammar. Once the
student have taken enough of a break from structure, it should duly be returned
to once or even twice over until all structure has been mastered. Afterwards,
the class should shift to more of a production based direct style method, all
the while backing everything up with lots of reading and television.