As we keep improving technology in the area of communication, closer the nations get to each other. Therefore the demand on the ability of speaking two languages or even three or more also grows. However time is also an issue with nowadays fast pace lifestyle. People want to learn a second language in the most efficient way without time lost. For this to be achieved it will depend on the commitment and will of the student, but most of all to the teachers ability to adapt to the many different ways that a student can learn an L2. A teacher canât be locked to only one approach of teaching another language because it might not work with every student.
A teacher needs to take in consideration the different styles of acquiring a second language, such as audio, visual, kinesthetic learners and more. Because of this some traditional teaching methods, in example the grammar translation method, have become obsolete. In the Grammar-Translation Method there is little to no space for STT, student talking time, the student will have no problem when reading street signs, books, articles and etc. in that language however their fluency will be poor and most certainly they will have problems while conversing with native speaker of that language.
Other than the lack of STT there is another reason why the grammar translation method doesn't improve the studentâs fluency, itâs the fact that it just takes more time for the speaker to reach the meaning of a certain word. When a student would want to say something they have to think of the actual action, object and etc., then think of it in their native language to finally reach what they want to say in their L2. So, instead of making the student go through their native language to learn something in the L2, it is much faster and effective to use the aid of mnemonics, pictures and varied examples in the L2 itself.
Whenever we ask someone to describe a classroom, it will usually be pictured as students sitting on separate desks facing a black or white board where an authoritative looking teacher stands. This is how we have been approaching teaching for a long time now, maybe it is the most convenient way to do it when dealing with a class of thirty students, and however it is definitely not the ideal way to acquire knowledge. This traditional classroom set up distances the teacher from the students, it makes it harder for the teacher to have a connection with them and also to follow the progression of their knowledge of the L2. Learning a new language is already an intimidating experience, we all have a certain fear of making mistakes or at least don't like doing them in public; therefore this distance from the teacher will only give the students a feeling that their mistakes will always be frowned upon by the teacher.
A better, if not the best, classroom set up should be one where the teacher is on the same level as the students, sitting with them at the same table. This way the teacher is able to quickly address any doubts that a student might have, for example this way the teacher has the ability to notice small differences in their facial expressions, hinting that the student didn't quite understand the explanation. In the traditional classroom set up these small changes go unnoticed. However, for this set up to work, a classroom should consist of no more than seven to eight students; for classes with bigger number of students it would better to rearrange the desks in a U shape, so this way the teacher can easily access each students and therefore have more control of the class.
The pace of a lesson is another variant to be taken in consideration when teaching an L2. The Callan method is much paced based on the students repeating over and over the same thing the teacher says to them. This memorization through repeated modelling is a valid way to fixate the correct structure in the learnerâs brain, however there is not much space for the student to understand the reason why they are being corrected. If a student has trouble with producing a certain structure, repeating the correct way over and over will definitely make them say it the right. However in a less fast paced class the teacher would have the time to add other examples of the said structure so the students can understand it better and also formulate new examples of that subject themselves. On the other hand it doesn't mean the teacher should use the other extreme and have a really slow pace, as in the Suggestopedia Method. While this method does have some good approaches, such as not using L1 in the class and making the student comfortable and relaxed, the pace is too slow and it can take the studentâs attention or interest away from the class.
The teacher should also pay attention to the time the student takes to answer a question or formulate an example of a structure. The student should have time to think about the answer to their doubts by themselves and not have it given from the teacher as soon as the student reaches a barrier. The Silent Way does just this; the teacher is passive so that the student can have inner-criteria for correctness. Nonetheless, the teacherâs role as a guide is of extreme importance; it is good for the students to gradually know how to correct their own mistakes but doing so without help or a guide can be very frustrating and it can lead the student to quit acquiring an L2.
Taking all of that in consideration, then a better method would be one that uses all the strong points of the former methods; for example, the great amount of STT and fluency practice of the Communicative approach, the modeling of the Callan Method, the writing practice of the Grammar-Translation method (without the use of L1 in this case), the comfortable and relaxed environment of Suggestopedia and the self-correction obtained through the Silent Way. The merge of all these methods, would happen on the level of class activities as well. There would be one activity on a structure with both oral and written practices, two vocabulary activities with both oral and written practices and two topic activities with only oral practice since it would be the time for the students to improve their fluency.
Nevertheless having a great method is not the only key point in the equation, the teacher has to follow its greatness as well. Great teachers are first and foremost, very well prepared for their classes. A prepared teacher is ready for any affective factors that may come along during their classes, for example, if one of the topic activities could be a sensitive subject for a specific group of students then a prepared teacher would have mastered all of the activities for that day and would be able to make a last minute change.
Great teachers are also aware of their studentâs age, needs and goals when planning classes and lessons. Children, teenagers and adults donât learn in the same way, a teacher needs to know the different ways on how to approach each age group, in example, children can learn things faster than adults do but they also lose interest in an activity faster than an adult. Again, being prepared and knowing all the class activities would make any teacher be ready to teach all age groups.
Itâs also a teacherâs role to be a playmaker, making the class fun and interesting to the students, and not only with children, adults also improve a lot when they learn in a fun way. A class shouldn't be one more obligation on the students daily list of chores, therefore a fun environment will keep them motived to keep on learning an L2. Also a teacher has to keep the class relevant to the students goals, for instance if the students are going to use the L2 for a trip, going to college in a different country, using it for work and etc.; and make the activities according to each goal. Moreover a great teacher should share experiences with other teachers as well. Collaborating with other teachers only upgrades the learning systems, contributions from different points of view enhance the quality of activities and teaching approaches and strategies in the classroom.
Finally for the best learning experience, there should be a combination of both a great method and a great teacher. A method where a student is exposed to the strongest points in learning methods, such as having a lot of STT for fluency practice without excluding time for practicing writing as well; a method where they have the space to self-correct but not being left to fend for themselves and still having the teacher as a guide, as well as keeping a relaxed and conferrable environment where they fell free to make mistakes without seeing the teacher as an authoritative figure that will frown upon them on every mistake. In addition to that method, a teacher that is very well prepared and that has the ability to understand their studentsâ needs and goals on learning an L2, who will guide the students in a fun and engaging way throught out the acquiring process of an L2.