With so many different Teaching Methods in existence, all having their own positive and negative points, I feel that the Communicative Approach and the Berlitz Method are closest to my own ideals as a teacher. This is not to say that other methods are not without merit. For instance TPR or Total Physical Response with its use of pictures and hand gestures could easily fit into any class when students are being un cooperative or simply misunderstanding an activity. That approach is especially suited to young learners with its physical aspects. At certain times you may need to drop any preconceived notions and beliefs to achieve a break-through with the student. Every student is unique and may respond to kinaesthetic, auditory or visual styles of learning, so it is important to try to be flexible to those needs in order to increase production of the language.
Having experienced 1990's foreign language studies in the English education system, with its stiff adherence to the (GTM) grammar translation method and lack of focus on speaking or listening, I felt my progress stifled by writing down long lists of vocabulary and an adherence to outdated text books full of gap-fill exercises. This failure on my part to learn French at a GCSE level and the educational systems one size fits all approach left me, for many years, demotivated and disenfranchised from language study. This experience has left me with a profound feeling that a more holistic way of teaching, focused on production ie; speaking, would yield far greater results.
As I have discussed, no one methodology is perfect and positives can be taken from all of them. My goal as a teacher is to bring about a productive knowledge of English, this will be achieved by encouraging students to speak for the majority of the class. The teachers role would be similar to that of the commutative approach, whereby the teacher and the student are on more of an equal footing. However the teacher's role in the class would be far from passive, the pace, atmosphere and intent must be apparent from beginning to end. My approach would also encourage the students to have more self reliance, to think and self correct for themselves, which would not be encouraged in other methods such as Callen or the Grammatical Translation Method, where they are given the answers or made to repeat stock phrases or sentences. The teacher should always be quick to praise the student and always build on the positive, raising the confidence levels of the student. Convexly when correction is needed it should be handled with sensitivity and care, as this could have detrimental affects on the students learning experience.
As I have discussed I would work hard to reduce TTT (Teacher Talking Time) and within that I would focus on the core attributes of fluency, vocabulary and grammatical structures, this would increase confidence, in a similar way to how a first language would be learnt by a small child. Reading and writing are obviously very important for a full rounded understanding of a language, however the student would be in a stronger position to learn these skills once they are further down the road to comprehension of the target language. In turn the teacher would be able to be much more creative and stretch the students knowledge with focused conversational tasks which really engage and activate the students learning potential.
As I have pointed out above, I feel my approach lies somewhere between the Berlitz and the Communicative Approach. This is especially true with how both of these methods organize their syllabus. I believe that more can be gained from using real life situations because that is exactly how relevant language is used in everyday life. I would hope to achieve this by using a variety of real life situations e.g. current affairs, work, weather and going shopping. Within these relevant topics you can easily link structure, dialogue, lexical, situational and role play based activities . Obviously all of this material can be graded to the different levels of the classes. In this manner the student can put into practice the authentic material and engage with live language. In this way you can teach the various grammar points and vocabulary implicitly without the need to announce it to the student. In other methods like GTM it is based more around the lexicon- grammatical task based syllabus with a prime focus on teaching the grammatical points explicitly with just reading and writing activities. From personal experience this approach, I feel would have a limited value in real life situations and after all the reason a student wants to learn a second language is to be able to communicate with others.
We also need to consider at this point the varying levels of ability of the students. This is where being able to assess the students correct level will be so important. You would grade the activity's language accordingly. It will be important to also have more age specific activities and exercises. For instance when teaching children you could make the activities more game based or picture based and less focused on topics such as current affairs and shopping. This would give you a three tier system for Children, Teenagers and Adults. the main reason for this are; It's easier to maintain students interest and attention if your dealing with what is relevant to them. If the students are at a very low level, pictures can be the most direct way to make yourself understood. This would be where more of an ALM method could be employed to great affect. Care should always be taken not to overload the student with concepts and vocabulary that is way behind their current level. Receptive learning activities such as films, books, newspapers and TV shows, while valuable, would not be used in the class but rather encouraged as homework for possible later discussion points.
A teacher should look at themselves as a work in progress and be flexible to new ideas and methods that could help them become a more effective educator. This can come in two forms, firstly, watching and learning from the most successful aspects of your teaching method and practice, in other words being self critical and being honest with what works and what can be improved on. Secondly, we do not live in isolation and as such it's always a positive to collaborate with other teachers, theorists and psychological approaches that may be of value to your everyday work. No one method can ever cover the complexity of the mind's capacity to learn and engage with language learning, it will always be in a state of flux and as such, open to interpretation. We should always be willing to embrace new ideas and theories and judge them on their practical merits. The students ability to work towards or attain fluency is paramount, teachers should use any and every available resource to help students reach their goals.