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English is everywhere, despite not being the most spoken language we have,It is the most utilized language we have, wether for business purposes or social, it acts as a middle man for communication between different nationalities. For this reason students may be choosing to learn it for various reasons, Business and international trade, or social interactions while traveling or even for simple pleasures such as music and other forms of entertainment.
As teachers we need to utilize our observational skills and identify the different needs and goals of our students, because this will influence our approach to the lessons and allow us to utilize the methodologies that we have at hand. Which is what brings us here, to discuss the methodologies, the pro's and cons of each and how we plan on using them.
There are five main methods available to us, some of the factors to consider when utilizing them are the students goals, motivation,knowledge,social influences and age, as well as what the students respond best to, some are better with visual learning or auditory learning and even through kinesthetics.
The First method to discuss is the Grammar translation method
This method is the oldest and possibly the most common, its target principle is to teach the student to read and write in the the target language by learning all the grammar rules and applying them into exercises and tests, It is reliant on the translation from the students first language to the target lanuage. This method is becoming archaic as it requires very little input and communication by the student.
This also puts the teacher in an authoritarian position which may reduce the students motivation and interest.
I personally learnt my second language in school this way, as many have. It did not take me long to loose this language as I was never truly comfortable using in a social and communicative manner and to this day I still consider those lesson a drag and twelve years almost wasted, it was an easy method to escape learning as I became more familiar with the structure of the testing than the language itself.
However we cannot deny that it has some uses, the physical notion of writing and practicing will teach you a lot and help to retain information.
The second method to discuss is the Silent method
With the silent method the teacher relies on the students to self correct and co operate with each other, this forcing them to interact with each other and provide input.
I find this method useful in some manners, but as much as it is useful it is risky and it would take a very experienced teacher with a good idea on the direction they are leading the students and to trust that they are able to apply what they have learnt correctly in other aspects of the english language and in correct situations.
It is useful in the fact that once the students have understood a concept they are not likely to forget it, and we are automatically borrowing from this method when using some situational or role play activities.
The third method is the Direct method.
This is probably one of the more motivating methods for the students, it is very engaging and far more relatable for the students, with out having the stresses of grammar rules they can feel free to try a more communicative approach. Visual aids are popular and real life situations are used, this already making a far more engaging lesson and perhaps easier for shy or lower level students to engage with the class.
Once the students have applied a more communicative approach they can then move on to reading and writing the target language with more understanding and confidence.
The downfall is that grammar rules may get left behind at first, and can interfere with the pace of the lesson when corrections must be made unless the corrections themselves are strategically placed.I have found that in this method you will need a good set of examples rather than explanations, as explanations may take the student further down a wrong path, However it remains one of the most effective modern day methods, and I , like most will be using this as my base method.
The Suggest O Pedia method.
Perhaps the strangest of the lot and it comes with a few doubts and questions. With the belief that creating a positive more relaxed environment with the use of ambiances and music will break down barriers and open students up to learning more, this seems counter intuitive to me as it would seem more forced than anything else, perhaps even authoritative in a way.
I guess we can take something from this method in that creating a positive learning environment is important, however I feel this better found in creating a good rapport between students and teachers, A little humility goes a long way in breaking down barriers, No need to force it.
And finally the Callan method.
This method involves a lot of drills and repetition, which feels like It will force the student into a more Parrot fashion way of learning and leading to more primal responses. The student may know how to answer when prompted, but will they fully understand the depths or feelings behind what is said ? I feel the teacher will also be playing a heavy authoritarian role, this making it far less engaging and motivating for the student. My belief is that practice does not make perfect, it creates habits and this can have negative results in the students understanding of the language using this method.
However when comes time to practicing and memorizing, this method is applicable in a way, Provided it is done in the right manner and in moderation.
As teachers we are taught to be prepared, to me this is not only in terms of the lesson plans, goals and syllabus but also with a knowledge of all methods and the use of observational skills to know when we can or should borrow from all the methods in our arsenal. All students are different and we will meet a lot along our way and by following this principle of adapting from all methods we can keep our students engaged and benefit ourselves as teachers by keeping ourselves stimulated and evolving to achieve a higher success rate as teachers.
So to say any method is valid or invalid would be wrong, but we do need a base to work off. As a teacher we must grade and follow the progression of our students, and for this I would use the direct method as a base, My classes will be more communicative, and a more social environment will destroy the feeling or need of authoritarianism, immediately breaking down borders and creating a more confident and engaging learning environment, with jokes and laughs amongst piers contagiously making all students engage in the lesson. I will utilize written assignments, role plays and oral exercises in my class, Primarily I want the students to be talking more, to be engaged with each other whilst I am simply guiding them and monitoring their progression, but any physical activities such as writing will make it easier to remember and role playing situational activities will create a more abstract relations making it easier to remember.
Utilizing the material given to me will be of up most importance, it will serve as a base.They will provide me with class structure with times on activities and depths, but I will try a customize off of the syllabus to keep students engaged with a more personalized approach.
Homework will be something of choice, I will recommend activities they can try, but as the class is communicative so must the homework be, they can force themselves into situations that will help them progress, Or they may approach me with questions relating to entertainment, such as movies or music.