The following essay will outline my personal approach on teaching English, where I will essentially create my own personalized teaching model through analyzing existing teaching methods but also using my own ideas.
It is very important to initially establish the teaching and learning goals of the students. This is because the teaching method is ultimately going to be designed around what the students want to achieve from learning the English language. In the modern era, a communicative approach is preferred over a literary one and teaching methods such as the grammar translation method which focuses very little attention on communication, are in decline and seen as dated.
I personally support the modern communicative approach. Regardless of age or level, students essentially want to be able to verbally use a foreign language. Whether it’s for travel, finding a new job, making friends or for future studies, the ability to communicate verbally in these examples, in my opinion takes priority. Also an interactive class where all students are encouraged to speak, creates a more enjoyable and interesting dynamic. In my experience, I myself have always excelled and learnt more as a student, when I have been encouraged to participate verbally in the class room and other students around me are involved. So the goals of my model would focus primarily focus on encouraging the students to talk, to engage them and have interactive and enjoyable classes. Listening would also be a focus where in order to speak, the students need to comprehend what the other person is saying during a conversation. Reading would play a much smaller role in my classes but used at times to add variation and encourage the students to read out aloud, so talk. Writing would not be an objective because it would be a distraction for the student and compromise the main objective which is to talk.
In terms of finding the right balance between productive and receptive skills, as the main objective in my model is for the students to talk, more emphasis will be placed on productive skills where the students themselves are very much involved in the classes verbally. However receptive skills will be also play a role, but a smaller one where there will be some focus on listening (teacher instructions for eg) and a little on reading.
Having used the Oxbridge triangular approach myself, I do like the manner in which it dedicates a similar time frame to the use of different language areas. In my opinion when speaking a language, it is equally important to be able to use correct structures, to have a access to an array of vocabulary and to be able to use grammar in context; so in everyday situations. If the student can practice all of these, the student will then have more confidence to use English outside of the class room. I have witnessed first hand, Spanish friends of mine who have only focused on structures through written activities and as a result, lack the confidence to communicate in public. My personal teaching method would therefore focus equally on language areas (through verbal activities) where pronunciation will be addressed naturally during each class. To differ from the Oxbridge triangular method, I would focus more on topics and real scenarios and do structural, vocab and TL exercises based on these in order to contextualize the learning process more, and really engage the students. The Communication teaching method has a similar approach. The topics/scenarios would also be linked (in terms of content and also specific structures and vocab used) to add fluidity to the lesson and to also to drive home specific ideas that the students learn. As a result my lesson plan would be structure based and I have attached an example of a lesson plan at the end of the essay.
When delivering the classes, the teacher would be a director in my teaching method and similar to the way a teacher would behave in the Berlitz method. The teacher would be there to direct the class but essentially encourage the students to interact and converse with fellow students (even if it means straying from the topic at times) The teacher is there to encourage equal interaction between the students and to make sure there is a balance between students feeling comfortable and also remaining alert so that they´re not too relaxed and become lazy. Modeling and behaving as a ‘technician’ should be kept to a minimum by the teacher, so that the student can think for themselves and self correct where possible. If too much help is given by the teacher, the primary objective of the teaching method, for the student to talk will be affected negatively. The students should be given ample time to think for themselves. Having been a language student myself, I recognize that praise is very important in keeping you motivated. However it shouldn´t be overused, otherwise the praise will mean nothing to the students and the student may lose confidence in the teacher. Confidence in the teacher is vital, because if the student respects the teaching qualities of their teacher, they themselves will have more confidence in the learning process.
The in-class dynamic would centre around questions, discussions, roles plays and some games where the student would be encouraged to engage with the teacher and other students. As the activities will be focused around topical issues and potential real life scenarios, authentic material would be used by the teacher; for example online articles or newspaper articles to use for topics. Online material would also be used to access online articles and ideas for scenarios, role plays and games. Whist I´m not a big advocator of the The Silent Approach teaching method, aspects of this method could be used in certain activities as it does encourage the student to talk. For example, to play silent charades where the teacher has to act out the clues and the students have to extract information from the teacher, therefore encouraging interaction.
It would be important in my model for the teacher to quickly get to know the students and be able to relate to them in terms of why they are learning a foreign language, and what factors may affect their performance. If the teacher cannot to relate to his students and understand what makes them tick, then the student may lose motivation and belief in the teacher and consequently the whole class dynamic could suffer as a result. Therefore the teachers need to focus on how the students react in class, through monitoring body language, participation in the class room and also asking students for feedback from time to time. If a student is anxious for example when communicating and this is picked up by the teacher, the teacher could then encourage more confident students to interact initially. The more nervous student could then be gradually integrated into conversations until they become completely comfortable in the teaching environment. In terms of monitoring student progress and difficulties, it would be the responsibility of the teacher to do this continuously, ensuring that the student is grasping the ideas, and any difficulties are resolved during the classes. The more experience the teacher has with a particular class, the more they will be able to pick up on any learning difficulties. However the quicker the teacher can adapt to student traits in the class room, the better.
My teaching method has strong links with the Oxbridge approach and also the Communication teaching method. Essentially the idea is to encourage the students to talk. However when we consider different age groups and different student levels, the approach has to be adopted somewhat.
With a lower age group, the teacher´s role will still be to encourage student interaction, but the teacher will need to simplify the approach. The teacher will need to relate to the young persons reason for learning and what keeps them motivated. So the teacher will introduce suitable topics that the Child can understand and enjoy. The teacher can give more praise and use more child friendly body language to keep the child motivated. More games can be used to encourage the students to learn and enjoy the process. The teacher could also use more visual props such as objects (Realia), to simplify the activities for younger students. On the other hand, with older students, the teacher’s approach will be different where the teacher will once again need to consider why and how the students are learning English. Topics and tools used will be appropriate for the higher age group (news stories, work related scenarios etc) The body language used by the teacher and the way he directs the class will also be adapted to suit the older age group. Less direction will be needed to teach adults whilst on the contrary, with children, more encouragement and modeling will be required. However it is important to mention here that regardless of the age group, the goal would remain the same, to encourage speaking!
In relation to the level of the learner, more modeling by the teacher is going to be needed for lower levels. This means that the TTL will inevitably be longer for beginners. There will be more structure and less opportunity for the students to expand on and stray from the topic at hand, due to the their limited knowledge of the language. Language used by the teacher will be simplified and instructions will be very clear and concise and the teacher will speak more slowly. The opposite of this will be applied to learners with higher levels. There will be more scope to expand on issues and of course TTL will be less.
In conclusion , through the use of existing models, especially the Oxbridge and Communication teaching methods, and also my own experience and personal beliefs, I have made an attempt to develop an effective teaching method, where a focus on verbal interaction is used to enhance the learners ability to achieve their goals. An advantage of this approach is that it should speed up second language acquisition where the student will progress more quickly in a communicative manner from beginner level to advanced. It is often considered that at the first stage of SLA, the learner is silent .However emphasis would be put on encouraging students at this level to speak but in a relaxed and gradual manner if necessary. Interlanguage is a natural process where students will inevitably attempt to think in their own mother tongue and at times try to simplify language. However my vision would be for the teacher to ensure that only English is spoken, and through constant monitoring of the students progress, to eliminate bad habits from the start.
Example Lesson Plan.
-Make the students feel comfortable.. welcome, how are you, smiles etc
-QQs to warm up class (like the Oxbridge method) (2 minutes)
-1st Activity: Topic (current news for example)
-2nd Activity: Scenario (meeting with the boss)
-Then another 1 or 2 activities (topic or scenario) depending on time. 15-20 mins per activity again.
-Wrap up (5 mins)
Note: Topics and scenarios would be related to an extent, to increase fluidity. There would also be a mix of more practical and more interesting (not so practical) Topics/Scenarios when doing the 3 or 4 activities to increase variation and to maintain a fun, interesting and positive dynamic.