The development of language teaching programs can be approached in several different ways. To start you first need to ask why is this student learning a new language and what motivates them. Then you need to do a needs analysis to find out how much the student already knows. Once you know these two key factors you can start to decide what will be the best teaching methods to use.
There are two different main learning skills that you need to take into account before putting a syllabus together for a particular student or class. There are receptive and productive skills. Listening and Reading are receptive skills while Speaking and Writing are productive skills. It is worth-mentioning that both receptive and productive skills do not take place coincidently. Listening continues to speaking and reading continues to writing. These two learning skills are just as important as the other when learning a new language. There needs to be an even balance in teaching both because they cannot stand alone. I do believe that to start off a new language receptive skills are more important in the beginning. Before you can read or write you do need to start off with quite a bit of time listening and observing. Manly starting off by learning key words and phrases with pictures are great.
When you are going to teach classes there are certain things that you as a teacher need to be aware of. Starting with what time of day the class is. There can be a very different energy level in a class if it is in the morning or at the end of their work or school day. Secondly, you need to take into account the age of the students. You need to have a very different approach on the activities you will be conducting with the students depending on their age and motivation to learning this new language. For example you wouldn’t create a vocabulary lesson on finance and the economy for children or teens. Third, you need to be careful to pay attention to the student’s demeanor in the classroom. If the students start to look bored or uninterested I think it is important for the teacher to have some back up activities prepared to get the students up and moving and either do a popular discussion debate, role play activity, or a fun game. Learning a language can be very exhausting, hard and frustrating. With technology being so advanced now days we as people want everything faster because we are used to receiving everything quick. Most students think they can acquire a second language within months when in fact it could take years. So as a teacher you need to make sure that during this process you learn how the student learns best and what their interests are so you can help smooth the potentially long learning process.
Next step to teaching a class is creating a successful syllabus. There are many different conceptions of a language syllabus. Different approaches to syllabus design reflect different understandings of the nature of language and different views as to what the essential building blocks of language proficiency are, such as vocabulary, grammar, topics and structures. These all play an important role in forming a successful syllabus for your students. I personally really like the Oxbridge way of setting up a Syllabus. PPP – Presentation, Practice and Production. I think the way the classes are set up to have a topic, a structure and a vocabulary activity is a perfect balance. I like to start off with a topic activity first. Starting off the class with a topic article is great because it gives the students the first part of the class to adjust into thinking about speaking in English. When the student first gets into class it will take a few moments for them to get into the groove of thinking in a different language. With a topic activity it is useful to start the class because you get the students to start speaking about an article that is interesting or controversial. There brain will switch over to trying to speak English without them straining themselves or getting frustrated right off the bat. Next I would do either the vocabulary activity or the structure. The only reason I would not want to immediately go into doing a structure activity first is because I believe teaching structure or grammar activities is the more challenging activity of the class. I would like to get my students to start talking first and to get comfortable before we jump into an activity that is going to be complex for them. Next is doing a vocabulary activity. Vocabulary activities are great in improving students’ pronunciation and providing students with the tools to communicate correctly and successfully. Last but not least is the structure or grammar activity is very important. It may not always be the students’ favorite part of the class but learning the basics and grammar of a language is key to succeeding in the future when the students start becoming more fluent in speaking.
Once you have the basics of how you are going to teach you need to think about how you are going to present all of this to your students. You want to make your classes as memorable and eventful as you can. I think in order to be a successful teacher you need to be enthusiastic, outgoing, performative, creative, prompt and always be prepared for your classes. You want your students to feel like learning a new language is going to be fun. I think it is very important after teachers first learn what motivates their students to learn a new language then create the syllabus and finally the teacher needs to figure out a fun way to put your own personal twist on everything. Whether you are working with children, teens or adults we all respond great to role play activities, games and getting out of your seat and moving around. Creating fun sayings, songs and games where you can get the class up and moving and identifying certain words with objects in the room or pictures can be great for remembering a new, foreign language.
Being able to observe different teachers over these past few weeks has been a great experience. It was such a treat to be able to see how all of the Oxbridge teachers approach their own unique teaching methods. Some teachers are more focused on grammar exercises and more serious which I think is great if you are teaching a higher level class or a class for a specific purpose such as business, law or finance. I did also get to observe teachers that were the opposite of that. They would be very creative with activities to do with the students and fun learning games. It was an inspiration to be able to see both sides of teaching approaches. It makes me really think of the kind of teacher I want to be. Me personally I am a little more on the silly side so I would gear more towards making my classes more fun and energetic. I want my future classes to love my class and learning English. I would hope my students would get excited for my classes! I know I still have so much to learn but I cannot wait for the future and to see myself grow into being one of the wonderful teachers I was fortunate enough to observe over these last few weeks.