September 21, 2015
As an English teacher my goal is to give my students a positive and rewarding learning experience. There are many different approaches, methods and techniques for teaching. I have compiled the ones that I believe will allow me to be the best teacher possible for my students.
I will strive to give my students a great learning experience through a primarily communicative approach. Within communication students not only gain fluency through speech, but they also learn accuracy by expanding vocabulary and being encouraged to speak correctly. In addition, meaningful communication assists not only in the production of the target language, but also in the retention of it. I will borrow from the Participatory approach as well by choosing content of interest that will engage the students and motivate them to participate in class. For example, bringing in authentic material such as a current newspaper covering a debatable or interesting topic will get them actively involved. I want my students to learn English inductively because I think they will remember it best that way. For example, when teaching grammar, to address that the adjective comes before the headword in a sentence I would give many examples of sentences like, “She is a beautiful girl.” Eventually the students should notice a pattern and discover the rule of grammar without analyzing the structure. I believe this realization that they have to uncover themselves will aid in their language retention and help them not get in the habit of using interlanguage. The overall outcome that I want for my students is effective oral communication that will benefit them in both fluency and accuracy of the English language.
Classes will be slightly altered according to the students’ needs and goals. For example, if I have a class full of lawyers that need to learn English for their job, a high amount of legal vocabulary would be included. If students have affective factors that influence their learning in a negative way I would address it by trying to help them overcome those barriers. For example, if I have a shy student that doesn’t actively participate I would make a habit of calling on all students equally to participate because if a student’s bashfulness can cause them to not advance as quickly as they could. It is also my job to motivate students. Although adults are usually motivated to learn a language because they are taking the classes by choice, increasing their motivation will help them learn English even faster. I would motivate students by making classes fun and interesting according to their hobbies and personalities. If I have a large class size I would teach generally interesting topics or let them choose a topic to talk about or present. All in all, having a personal connection with students and making an effort to help them learn their best is important as an English teacher.
In my opinion, no matter what the goal of the student is, the productive skills, speaking and writing, should have more emphasis to help them succeed in mastering the language. The receptive skills, listening and reading, are still important to learn but in a lesser amount. Speaking will help more with students that want to learn English to travel because speech is essential for communication. Writing will benefit the students that need to learn English for their job or to pass the Cambridge Exam, for example, because their grammar will be more accurate. For these reasons, covering both productive skills evenly but at a higher amount than the receptive skills should cater to most students’ language goals.
I would organize my course by using a functional syllabus because it is useful for all types of learners. A syllabus based on practical functions for students that want to learn English to travel could have a section of “How to ask for directions.” The function “How to make a telephone call” is useful for both work related and travel related goals. These simple functions can work with children and adults. The only difference would be that for adults and more advanced students I would include more advanced vocabulary and more complex sentences. Learning outcomes for my students would be based on the syllabus. If they are able to generally perform all of the functions on the syllabus then the outcome was achieved. I would assess these learning outcomes by using continuous assessments that average to an overall grade for the course. I would use this type of assessment because students have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to being tested therefore; having multiple opportunities to raise their grade will give them a fair chance at success.
In each class, oral communication would be the priority because it is the most difficult skill to achieve when learning a language. Speaking, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are important for accurate communication. For example, if I were teaching a low-level 6o minute class about the function “How to introduce yourself,” I would start with a short 10-minute listening activity to learn the new vocabulary. This could be a recording or just me talking and explaining what the words mean. I would explain what the words mean by using gestures and acting out the words. Older and higher-level students may just want to listen and ask questions but for children and low-level students I would want them to do some movements, especially for children because they are more kinesthetic learners. If I were teaching about body parts I would touch my head and say “head” and have them touch their heads as well and repeat the word. Next I would move one to a 15 minute speaking activity that emphasized pronunciation. If it were a small class size I would go around the room and have the students say certain phrases with the new vocabulary and correct their pronunciation if necessary. Then I would have a 20-minute group communication activity. This would consist of students having a conversation, discussion, debate, etc. that they would share with the class. Then during the last 15 minutes of the class I would have the students practice reading or writing. For example, I may test their reading comprehension by having them read a paragraph and seeing if they understand the material. Homework is a chance for students to go in more depth with reading comprehension and writing. Assignments would involve topics that will be discussed in the following class. Class topics should be interesting so that students are more likely to remember them. For example, for teen to adult and higher-level students, a reading could be about social issues in the country where the classes are taking place while still being related to the function of the day. If the function is “Going to work” then the reading could be about equal employment opportunity that has corresponding vocabulary. In summary, for all levels and ages the class structure would be about the same with different material and alterations that are best for the students.
As a teacher I want to guide my students to good learning habits and effective communication. I would do this by encouraging questions. If a student is not understanding a topic after I have explained it more than twice I will offer to see them after class or give them an extra assignment to help them understand in order to keep the pace of the class. Also, providing a large amount of communication opportunities in class will guide them to effective communication. I also believe that to be a good teacher I need to be a playmaker. For example, if a student asks what a word means instead of translating the word I would try to explain what it means so that they will reach an “Aha!” moment when they realize the answer themselves. This will help them with information retention because they had to discover the answer on their own. As a playmaker I will explain the games but let the students score the goals. Lastly, as a teacher I want to be a conversationalist with my students. I want memorable class conversations covering interesting topics. I want my students to not feel a high level of stress and feel confortable to speak in class. As a teacher I have my roles and my students will have their roles as well. Firstly, I want my students to be strong communicators in the classroom. Their input is important and they will be doing most of the talking. Students also need to be self-managers by applying themselves in learning the language as I guide them through it. Even though I will encourage as much communication as possible from my students, for lower-level and younger students I will have to adjust my amount of participation. For example, for a lower-level or younger class I will have to start more of the conversations because they will not have the fluency to do it on their own. If they make errors I will correct the major errors that could become bad habits such as sentence structure or possession. If a student repeatedly says “the cat of my mother,” I will correct them by saying “my mother’s cat” and use a gesture that shows I am switching something around so that they will remember what this gesture means in the future. My aim is that the roles I take as a teacher and the way I correct errors will allow my students to improve their language skills.
In conclusion, communication is key in my teaching approach. Nevertheless, I will not leave other aspects of language learning out such as listening, reading and writing. Teaching the right amount of everything will help my students be successful. I strive to teach my students fluency and accuracy and help them reach their learning goals.