My personal teaching approach
A number of approaches to teaching English have been developed, each one has its specific methods and reasons for them. Being a teacher you should get familiarized with each one, think over its methods, and make your personal conclusion: what benefits can I take from this or that one, what can I apply in my classes? For example, a grammar translation method helps a student to see a contrast between two languages, find common things and differences between them, get some visual support and this way avoid the transfer of the L1 to the Target language. Writing gives time to think over your ideas, avoid possible mistakes and Reading presents you some more information, vocabulary and shows English language styles in different genres. Audio lingual method develops auditory skills as it often happens that a student can speak but don’t understand people or news while listening. Silent method makes a student “feel the language” and produce it from the inside, Total physical response permits a student “activate” the language in an engaging form and the Berlitz method is oriented to the complete penetration into the language environment. These things are crucial in the language learning and should be incorporated in a teaching approach. Suggestopedia emphasizes the importance of the atmosphere during a learning process that you also have to take into account. Don’t press the student, make him feel comfortable and create a friendly atmosphere.
Considering all these principles and admitting their importance I still find the communicative approach the most rewarding one. Of course you need to analyze a student’s special needs or purposes (for example, when a student wants to get good marks at school and he has to upgrade the grammar, we should focus on grammatical exercises; or if a student needs to prepare for the FCE we need to familiarize him with the FCE exam structure and have trainings in this direction), but the main idea about learning a language is not to know about it, but being able to speak it. A student may learn from texts or even by heart hundreds of new words but they are left passive because a student doesn’t use them. Knowing less words but being able to use them fluently and react in different life situations without language barrier is the object of my approach. So Vocabulary, Topics and Grammar structures are those activities that I would like to focus on.
Grammar is scaffolding. No matter how much vocabulary is covered, it should be structured in order to transmit a certain meaning. Grammar should be taught implicitly, from meaning to the form. Examples, situational contexts give a student a chance to elicit meaning himself, thus remember the structure easier.
Vocabulary is also an important part of the course. It should be considered correctly according to the language level of a student. The more advanced the more specific vocabulary and the more meanings can be given.
Topics are a great opportunity for a student to speak. A topic should be interesting. It could be some burning issues, news, articles. The resources may be books, textbooks, magazines and newspapers, Internet. The text may be adapted according to the level and so that the text could be rich in content, concise and catchy. If a student is engaged (through introduction, straight forward questions, thematic), he will be more open to discussion and sharing ideas. It is a free way to activate both grammar and vocabulary. For a teacher it is also an activity that shows student’s knowledge: thus, we can see gaps and errors. The errors can be corrected immediately or postponed in some situations (during a long/emotional speech). In order not to interrupt a student to much we can write down the mistakes and then discuss. The gaps can be covered during the course, that’s why it is important to have a syllabus, which serves as an orientation point. The syllabus will be touched upon below in the essay.
The wrap up of a lesson is a good consolidation of the whole material. During a lesson, don’t forget about fluency when passing through one activity to another so that a student could be penetrated into the native English atmosphere.
The content of the activities and types of the exercises should vary. For example, during the vocabulary session, to activate it we may include a realia, rope play, flashcards, games, matching, a text. Be creative so that student won’t get accustomed to the same thing and get bored. Even changing the way of the seat out, a usual partner in a role play can bring positive results. But it depends on the size of the group.
During the Topic activity, a student sometimes may also have an opportunity to read the text himself or after a teacher. Thus, he will try to work on pronunciation and intonation.
During a Grammar session I not exclude incorporation once in while a short text for translation to compare two languages, see differences and similarities and take them into account.
Special attention should be paid to syllabus. The lessons shouldn’t be prepared spontaneously, but in a thought-out way. Thus we can control the content distribution, consider goal per level and see a student’s progress, his movement from step to step.
Syllabus may vary depending on a student’s needs. If it is English for Specific Purpose, we should familiarize ourselves with this certain sphere. It requires some specific preparation. If it is English courses for particular ages, try to be more accurate in the choice of topics, so to provoke in a student interest and impetus. Considering different groups of students and their language level, it is important not to forget about grading the language. If the language is an appropriate, it creates an obstacle in learning process. Using cognates can be beneficial for a student, so a teacher should be aware of the first language to anticipate the possible problems and find a proper solution. Considering the fact the students belong to different learning styles (kinaesthetic, visual, auditory), we can enrich the lessons with different types of activities (songs, books, pictures or movement activities like the Total Physical Response method suggets), so that everyone could be involved. Especially it is important when giving classes to children.
A text book should not be the basis, but could be a good source of ideas and information.
If we consider a teacher’s role, it could be a guide, coach, conversationalist, controller, playmaker. I think the roles may be changed according to the activity, the needs of the student, their mood. To be different from time to time may contribute to a beneficial atmosphere and positive results.
It is important for a teacher to develop his skills, analyze his and other teachers’ experience, read books, upgrade qualification and share experience. Despite the fact that the students have a common goal-to speak English, all are different. The more we know about student’s psychology, about materials for teachers, about methods and their correct application the more productive our lessons will be.