A lot of research has been done to find the most effective method to teach a language. There are a number of different teaching methodologies available as a result of this.
Although some of the methodologies; for example ‘Suggestopedia’ and the ‘Silence Method’ are often dismissed by many people as being impossible to or extremely difficult to learn from. I believe that this is a closed minded way of understanding different individuals learning approaches. It is likely that ‘Suggestopedia’ and the ‘Silence Method’ do suit a certain type of learner. It is likely that one of these methods would be the most effective way to learn a language for some type of learners, even though this is probably a small percentage of learners.
‘The Oxbridge System’ is the method I agree with the most. They put a heavy emphasis on the student learning the English language as opposed to older methods that seem to have an emphasis on the student studying the language. With out learning the English language the student is not able to communicate in English. As this is generally the primary function of learning a language I believe this needs to be the predominant goal for the teacher. Therefore it is important to find the most efficient way to enable the student to learn the English language. Although the ‘Oxbridge System’ has made a good attempt at achieving this I believe that it has failed to take into account the fact that each individuals learn differently. It takes into account different ages; abilities and the student’s specific purpose for learning but fail to examine what type of learner they are.
Learning styles are the systematic differences in individuals' natural or habitual pattern of acquiring and processing information in learning situations. A core concept is that individuals differ in how they learn. There are three type of learners; Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.
The ‘visual learner’ gains knowledge most effectively through; pictures; shapes, written words and through visualizing. My teaching strategy for visual learners would include the use of demonstrations and visually pleasing materials, and I should make an effort to paint mental pictures for learners.
Kinaesthetic learners instead learn best through gestures, body movements and object manipulation. They use all their senses to engage in learning. They learn by doing and solving real-life problems. They like hands-on approaches to things and learn through trial and error. My teaching strategy for kinaesthetic learners would include hands on demonstrations and case examples to be discussed and solved.
Auditory learners in comparison learn through; listening; rhythms, tone and chants. They prefer to have things explained to them verbally rather than to read written information. They learn by listening and verbalizing. My teaching strategy for auditory learners would be to teach them through sound and would be planned and delivered in the form of an organized conversation.
The teacher can identify the students’ predominant learning style through a test that is available. Then they can adapt their method of teaching so that it best suits the learning style of the student to make their language acquisition as productive as possible.
As a teacher, your goal is not only to present information that learners need but also to facilitate experiences that will help them gain and master the knowledge and skills that they need to know and practice. By using a variety of teaching techniques and by actively involving learners in the experience, we increase the chances that they will retain and use the information. This is why it is essential to have the correct equilibrium of teacher talking time (TTT) and student talking time (STT). As a teacher I would aim to have the students actively participate in the lessons as much as possibly as I believe this will lead them to achieving my goal as a teacher which is to make my students able to communicate fluently and accurately.
Learning is not an automatic process. There are a number of factors that can inhibit the process. My attitude as a teacher has a significant effect on the students’ mood. It is important that as a teacher I am confident in my knowledge. If the student feels the teacher is not competent they will lack confidence in them. It is also crucial that as a teacher I am encouraging and transmit positive energy. For example not using the word ‘no’ and guiding the students to correct themselves to aid them into not feeling anxious and to help build their confidence with their ability to use the language. As a teacher I must distract the student from potential problems on their mind that might impinge on their ability to focus by keeping them engaged in the lesson. As a teacher my role is to act as a mentor, guiding and encouraging them in their language acquisition.
Syllabi serve several important purposes, the most basic of which is to communicate the teacher’s course design (e.g., goals, organization, policies, expectations, requirements, consistency in classes) to students. The structure of a syllabus provides the teacher with an outline to go by of what needs to be dealt with in each lesson and also act, as a guide to what pace of progression the student should be achieving.
My syllabus would have the heaviest emphasis on teaching vocabulary but pronunciation and grammar would still have a significant role. In order to communicate accurately it is essential to know how to correctly use the grammatical structures. This is why I would not use the Direct Method, as it does not put enough emphasis on teaching grammar. For an S1, however, the syllabus would be predominately vocabulary and pronunciation. As a teacher I would try and teach the grammar through exposing the student to the grammatical structure as frequently as possible. This is so that, when the student comes to use the grammatical structure, in a natural environment, they do not have to remember the rule of the structure first. Instead it will just come naturally to them, like it does when the language is your mother tongue.
The syllabus and lesson plans allows the teacher to have a certain level of preparation for the classes, which is essential and helps to keep TTT low. Although it is necessary to be prepared it is also necessary to be ready to adapt in the class for different reasons, one being students becoming uninterested by an activity. In relation to forming a syllabus and lesson plans for a student it is imperative to take into account the students reasons for wanting to learn English. To accomplish this, the teacher should assess learners’ needs and issues, for example, ask the learners what their expectations are for the classes. It is then possible to adapt the content of the activities to suit the student. English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is defined to meet the specific needs of the learner, for example focusing the vocabulary on words that are relevant to anything business related for someone learning English so they can do business in English. The use of this method is likely to be instrumental in keeping the student stimulated and eager to learn as it keeps it relevant to them.
The structure of the lesson plan remains the same for all types of learners; it is the content of the activities that adapt.
Lesson Plan P3:
Quick Questions (4 minuets) – Having this consistently at the beginning of the class gets the student into an ‘English speaking mind set’ and means the lesson starts straight away.
Topic activity (15 minuets)
Vocabulary activity (15 minuets)
Structure activity (15 minuets)
Topic activity (15 minuets)
Wrap up (5 minuets) – This is essential in order to concept check the students.
This structure would be altered for an S1 as more focus would be placed on pronunciation and vocabulary.
It is also important to consider different techniques to teach children. It is helpful to remember that children are usually there out of no choice of their own, so to help them feel motivated, the teacher should introduce games and make it a fun experience. It is necessary to assess the level that the student is at so that the teacher can grade their language appropriately and make the syllabus relevant for their level. Knowing what motivates a student to learn coupled with knowing what type of learner they are and taking into account what their level is can be extremely beneficial to the efficiency of their language acquisition. Ultimately my learning goal is for the students to be able to communicate proficiently in a natural environment in the English language.
In my experience at learning and using the French language I am aware that it is most crucial to have the ability to speak a language and from there the rest of the skills seem to follow. So in my classes I would place a heavy emphasis on the development of the student’s speaking skills. This is why I do not think textbooks are effective tools to teach with. They don’t encourage the use of this skill so do not help the student’s skill at speaking English, progress. Listening is also important, as I have found it the second most significant skill to have in order to communicate. As English is a non-phonetic language a small amount of reading should be included in the teaching process to ensure that the student is able to recognize the words they learn and also that they are able to pronounce them correctly. Writing is the skill I would include very minimally in the lessons as I think it is the least useful skill in terms of communicating in English.
However the emphasis on these skills when teaching must be adapted to suit the needs of the learner and also must be adapted to suit what type of learner the student is. For example a heavier emphasis on listening would be placed if he or she were an auditory learner. The materials that I would use during activities would directly correlate with what type of learner the student was. For example if the student was predominately a visual learner I would teacher them primarily through videos, images and texts.
I think that taking into consideration the students learning style is the future of teaching. When the student is taught on the basis of what learning style they are, combined with taking in to consideration their age, level, motivation and interests it is the most efficient and effective way to help them to learn the language. I believe that teachers can help each other achieve this method of teaching by sharing their lesson plans for the different types of learners.