What defines a good teacher for me?
As a teacher you can use methodologies that are already written or even write one yourself. But no matter how good or complete the methodology can be, it doesn’t mean that you as a teacher don’t have to do anything anymore. A good methodology is worthless without a good teacher. Now what defines a good teacher for me? To start off with what I think is the most valid point in teaching is that a teacher has to understand that every student is different and needs his own individual approach. There is not one method in the world that a teacher can apply to every student. Although this might get harder as classes get bigger, it still should be fundamental base of your approach. A student can be different in a lot of ways, think about the students age, motivation and objectives. That’s why I think it is very important a good teacher had needs analyzing skills. To give a well adapted class a teacher has to detect the student’s individual needs. A teacher should also be a student’s guide. As a non native English speaker myself I can relate with the problems that the students are having learning a new language. It is important that I use my experience in guiding the students. Further it is important that as a teacher you be flexible, positive, you praise the students, you set realistic expectations en give an engaging class in a good pace. In summary you could say, a good teacher needs good people skills. Nevertheless there is one more important thing that a teacher always has to do, and that is to prepare his class well.
The exercises we do with our students, are to develop his or hers language skills, the macro skills. So as a teacher I believe you should know what the language skill is that you are trying to emphasize with that student. When we look at the macro language skills we can teach; listening, speaking, reading and writing, I believe they all have great importance in acquiring a language. But for me there is a significant difference between them. I thinking teaching a beginner student with emphasizing all macro skills, the student will be overwhelmed and he might lose interest in your class. Using my own experience in learning new languages I think that for beginner students, no matter what the age is, you should emphasize the macro skill speaking. Emphasizing this skill I feel the student will have the best chance of getting a basic knowledge of the language. They will hear the rhythm of the language and they can get a feel of it. The micro skills that can support these macro skills are the use of vocabulary, pronunciation and the introduction of grammar. When a student gets more advanced Ill introduce the macro skills reading, writing and listening. Writing is a great skill to practice grammar and sentence structures. Making writing exercises the student has the time to correct himself on the grammar and sentence structure. Correcting himself he will see the structures and hopefully use them while speaking. Listening on the other hand I feel is useful to introduce some different accents and create some real life situations.
When correcting a student it is important you don’t make him feel uncomfortable or frustrated. You can do this by avoiding the words no and wrong and bring it with a smile. Especially teaching kids and beginners it is important to be aware of this.
When a teacher wants to choose a methodology he first must be aware of how second language acquisition works and what the differences are with first language acquisition. When we talk about the first language acquisition we talk about acquiring in a subconscious nature rather than studying or learning it. When talking about second language acquiring we can say that the student’s acquisition is formed by mostly studying.
Even if we don’t really know how first language acquisition works, we can still use the students first language to understand the problems the second language gives him and we can use it to make it easier, for example by using cognates.
I teach threw the ideas of constructivism. Constructivism emphasis on prior knowledge, skills, beliefs, concepts and experiences. I believe that when you use the skills the student already has it will help him in acquiring the target language.
There are a lot of factors that influence a student. They can be categorized in: motivation, opportunity, environment and personality. There could be a difference between a student who is obliged to be there and between a student who is there by own choice. It is important that as a teacher you keep the student interested and motivated. I would do this by trying to make it personal and use subject the student likes and is interested in. The personality of the student is a significant factor with characteristics such as introversion, low self-esteem and anxiety being a obstacle to second language acquisition. No matter what age group of level you are teaching, it is the task of a teacher to make his students feel comfortable. Although easier said than done there are a lot of things teachers can do to achieve this. By positive approach and emphasizing the positive things a teacher can make a student feel comfortable. There are also group exercises a teacher can do to make a student get use to talking in class. For example when a student is asked to repeat something together with the whole class he probably feels more confident. I would use this especially with kids and beginner classes, but you could apply it whenever it’s necessary. It is important that as a teacher to takes all of these factors in consideration and realizes they can be influenced to create a positive effect.
Having learned languages in both ways I strongly prefer using only target language. We can see this back in the direct approach and the communicative approach. I feel that when a student is only able to speak in the target language he will be forced to think in the target language and to find answers to problems with the information that he already knows. By using this method I believe a student will be able to make connections faster. I would make an exception for young kids or beginner students. Sometimes in the first lessons it could be very helpful to explain one particular object or subject in their target language. It could be positive in the way that the class will keep going in a good pace and the students will not lose their interest.
When teaching a target language, there are two aspects that I emphasize the most, namely context and function. We can see this back in the communicative approach. I strongly believe that when you put subject in context to the student needs the will benefit from this. When a teacher tries to link activities in the classroom to the students needs out of the classroom you will make the communication meaningful for them. For instance I would start teaching beginners how to introduce themselves instead of starting with the second conditional. For more advance learning you might have to find out more about the reason why students are learning the language, but I think there is always a way to put it in context. It is also important to use vocabulary that is specific for their needs. The use of role-play that relates to everyday situations is very beneficial for the students as they can start using their target language the day they learned it, giving them satisfaction in their development.
When teaching vocabulary I think repetition is important, although it also helpful to use not only words, but also images or object. When teaching vocabulary to beginners I would use the Callan method. It uses a lot of repetition, something that makes it also really boring. So it is a great way to learn vocabulary but I would not overuse it.
Another method that could be helpful for especially kids is the total physical response method. With this method you can make it fun and recognizable to teach vocabulary, questions and answers.
When we look at the grammar translation approach I would use some of their exercises, but in target language. Grammar rules can be overwhelming and boring so I would not use it with beginners and kids. For beginners and kids I would use correct grammar in a functional way.
One methods I found to be different was the Silent Method, this method could be a little confusing for the student as the teacher does not communicate in the lessons, but directs with gestures and movements.
To learn a target language out of class I would always advice student to read books in target language and listen to music. This is a great way to learn new vocabulary and sentences that they can use in class. When teaching hard structures, I will try to simplify it for students by telling them a mnemonic to make it easier.
When creating a Syllabus for a class, it is important to look at the student’s needs and goals. Am I going to teach them how to ask for directions I will make a function based syllabus. Am I going to teach them past perfect I will make a structure based syllabus. So when it comes to making a syllabus I don’t believe there is a specific one that I prefer, I think that you have to adapt the syllabus to the students needs.
I would keep track of my student’s improvement manly by continuous and self assessment. I think it is important that the student is ably to see where he made improvement, and where he needs more practice, and by a continuous assessment you will have a good actual image of your student’s improvements.
Nevertheless it is important that as teachers we realize that we are not alone and that by sharing information and experiences with other teacher we can develop ourselves, our colleges and the profession.
Creating a Syllabus for S1
5) recap previous lesson
15 min) introduce vocabulary.
Introduce vocabulary that can later be used to introduce the verb to have. Use object that are in the classroom, and can be actively used, like pen or chair.
15 min) Introduce the verb to have.
Introducing the verb to have in first en second person. Using to vocabulary used in the previous exercise as object.
10 min) vocabulary
Introduce the numbers 1 until 10
10 min) use the new vocabulary plus the numbers to create sentences.
5 min) wrap up