English is one of the main languages of International communication and its growing popularity across the world is immeasurable, with more and more people beginning to communicate in English as a ‘second’ language.
A whole range of theories from scientific studies to opinionated conjecture have influenced the teaching of English Language from time to time however it’s for us teachers to decide which methods suits which various teaching situations and levels.
As a teacher of English and also based on my personal observations and experiences I would follow the Communicative Approach to help language learners achieve their goals. the guiding principle of this approach is to train students to use language forms appropriately in a variety of context and for a variety of purpose.
To learn a language students needs constant exposure to the language as it’s a key component of language acquisition. Learning through communicating and making conversations, according to me is the most effective way of the language learning process. Communication and conversations develops the process of language learning in terms of pronunciation, structure, fluency and encourages the receptive skills of listening and reading. Both Receptive and Productive Skills contribute equally in the language learning process and all of these can be incorporated in lesson plans, both intensively and extensively. Given below is an instance of an extensive listening lesson sequence which can be easily included in teaching modules :
Topic : Interviewing a stranger
Activity : Live listening
Skills : Predicting, listening for both specific and detailed information, writing
Age : Any
Level : Beginners and above
In this activity teacher brings to class a competent English Speaker as a visitor after briefing him/her about the students’ language level pointing out that they should be sensitive about the level students use but not speak to them in an unnatural way. Students are not informed about the visitor so they write questions on the basis of their guesses about who the stranger is and interview the stranger with their questions. After the stranger leaves they make a note of what information they got. An activity like this can develop their listening as well as writing skills.
To achieve results in speaking skills in the classroom, I will ask my students to act from a script, organize communication games, will import some TV games to the classroom as they provide good fluency activities, initiate and conduct discussions on interesting topics keeping the age group in mind.
In order to get maximum benefit in developing the extensive reading skill (word recognition) we have to offer them a program which includes appropriate methods, tasks, assistance and resources such as permanent libraries of books or access to related materials e.g. magazines and journals and persuade students of the benefits of reading and sometimes read out to them.
As for intensive reading in the classroom, I will create enthusiasm in students while reading a particular text and work towards creating interest in the topic and related tasks.
To achieve results in speaking skills in the classroom, I will ask my students to act from a script, organize communication games, will import some short TV games to the classroom as they provide good fluency activities, initiate and conduct discussions on interesting topics and encourage all students to participate equally in all of these activities.
When it comes to organizing a syllabus the I will try to balance certain competing claims when making decision about selection and grading. I have to make sure topics are of the students’ interest. My concern is not just with lists of what will be taught and in what order, but also with the planning, implementation, evaluation and management of the program. I will formulate the Grammar syllabus with simple structures and make sure the students gradually acquire the complex structures leading to a clear understanding of the structure system. Lexical syllabus (vocabulary and its lexical forms) will be focused at the students learning through natural contexts and from their experiences. The functional syllabus will highlight the communicative purpose and conceptual meaning of language i.e. notion and functions. I will exemplify these functions by instances such as inviting, requesting, apologizing and notions as age, colour, size, comparison etc. The needs of the student have to be analyzed by different type of interaction and communication a learner may be involved in. The content syllabus will focus on topics e.g. Literature, Films, Music, Sports, Science and others as per the interest of students’ level and age group and specific purposes. These topics will further be divided into items e.g. Sports can be subdivided into forms of sports, importance of sports, famous sports personalities etc. The task based syllabus will support all tasks and activities of students’ interest as it will encourage learners to utilize the language communicatively so as to achieve a purpose. Speaking a language is a skill best perfected through interaction and practice. My tasks will be relevant to the real world language needs of the learner.
Once my syllabus is formulated I would concentrate on Lesson Planning, an area where I have to ensure that I am taking the most thoughtful approach possible to get the learners where I want them to be. The plan will be written not in order to meet a particular requirement but rather ensure that the student accomplishes the objective. My standard lesson plan will be implemented through the 5 step lesson plan as shown in the table below :
(Heart of the Lesson)
The five step lesson planning, I feel is effective because it has many of the features common to all effective lesson formats. Introduction to new material requires teacher taking centre stage and explain, demonstrate and illustrate the concepts, ideas, skills or process that students will internalize. Guided practice is where I am involved to engage with the materials with the students. Independent practice is when students my refine their skills without my assistance e.g. role play, answering questions, solving problem and the final stage of the lesson will reinforce the lesson objective and provide an opportunity to check for students’ understanding.
Teaching different levels, age groups, and for specific purposes requires lot of sensitivity on the part of the teachers. No matter what age and ability level we teach we should always try to promote learning through fun, accommodate different learning styles, have clear classroom management systems and aim to be a positive role model. While teaching juniors I will use simple 1-2 word commands with a firmer tone, introduce grammar or vocabulary points through series of games (always with a back up plan in case I see them losing interest) and rewarding them after successful activity (a hi5 or a pat in the back). While teaching teenagers I will get the miscellaneous tasks done first then introduce the topic, grammar, vocabulary and focus on lesson practicing and drilling the new TL. Students in this stage needs exposure to different cultures at this stage and we teachers have to deal effectively with classroom management by putting good systems at place for dealing with badly behaved students and rewarding good learning. While teaching adults I would see myself as a team leader or mentor and not an authority figure. They will follow instructions only when they admire the teacher. Would research their intent and put it into my lessons. Often get them into brainstorm ideas and set activities like asking questions etc.
In order to teach English for Specific Purposes also known as General English, where students are usually adults who already have some exposure to English, I would concentrate on teaching more of language in context than grammar or language structure. English here will not be taught as a subject instead be integrated into a subject matter area. As a teacher my material selection will be based on realistic goals that takes into account the students’ concern in the learning situation and this includes creating a learning environment. We have to structure effective communication skills in the classroom to support the students. It’s a responsibility to build the learners’ confidence. Evaluating students is of extreme importance while teaching ESP. We have to find their language learning problems and find solution by finding out which skills they need to focus on and take the lead for making choices which determines what and how they learn. As students take interest in materials they can use in their professional work, it should be presented in authentic contexts to make the learners acquainted with the particular ways in which language is used and their functions. While selecting materials for all other levels or age groups, I will ensure that my materials encourages learners to develop leaning skills and strategies, allows for a focus on form as well as functions, offers opportunities for integrated language use, value authenticity with attractive and appropriate instructions. I will also take the liberty to provide, make or choose materials and this will include adapting, supplementing and elaborating on those materials. My classroom will be student centered where their needs will be ahead of my goals.
Allowing more of TTT than STT will be one of my target areas in the classroom. In classes where language acquisition is the focus, my learners will be provided with opportunities to employ everyday usage and participation in memorable activities, e.g. Present Simple Tense will be used to talk about profession(I am a doctor), Family(my sister is 12), likes and dislikes( She likes chocolates). I will check what they already know as reviewing those topics will lead to increased language retention and confidence and the focus will be on grammar and vocabulary. Incorporating interest of the learner will be a highlight of my classroom management along with using non verbal language and maintaining discipline.
To sum it all up I wish to add that as English Language experiences one of its most dramatic growth globally, it is we teachers who have to evolve by collaborative learning cultures which have become a common feature of effective learning, as we continue to play a pivotal role in language teaching, in the days to come.