No Man Is an Island.
(a famous line from "Meditation XVII," by the English poet John Donne)
An expression that emphasizes a person's connections to his or her surroundings and/or other persons. Therefore, I can connect it to the language itself, known as the most powerful tool that can a person have. In order to get connected to other persons, to start socializing because of different backgrounds, job related or friends related, we use the language as a tool for communication. Different languages throughout the world, different teachers, different students and approaches.
To emphasize the importance of the languages in the communication here is my personal example of an approach of teaching English as a foreign language.
The method to be used will be the Total Physical Response (TPR).
The purpose of the course/language learning will be the students to start communicating in English so it will motivate them to master the target language.
''Learning emotions or feelings'' will be the objective of the course. The skills that the students will learn on this day is related to this topic. They will be able to say how they feel, show their emotions using the vocabulary and the phrases presented.
Teacher's purpose and the student's needs will be in consonance. Students will be motivated and at the same time it is expected that they should enjoy their learning experience because the teacher will be imitating all the feelings and in response to that the students will be able to distinguish their meaning and imitate it back. That will make an interesting environment to work in and it will encourage the shy students to interact with the others. This explains the affective factors regarding this particular course.
Taking into consideration the language skills more emphasis will be put on the listening and speaking macro skills as the teacher will be showing orally all the vocabulary and phrases simultaneously with the material used and the students will be able to speak, pronounce it orally as well. So, we have receptive and productive skills involved, paying more attention on fluency than accuracy. On the other hand, the vocabulary and the pronounciation will be the main micro skills to be used. The focus is on communicative competence rather than on linguistic or grammatical competence.
Based on our teaching and learning goals our syllabus will be more function-based as it will be used to expresses feelings, emotions.
Since the purpose of the course is students to start communicating in English in a particular topic, expressing feelings in this case, the material that the teacher will be using will be diverse.
The teacher will start the course by asking a simple question ''How do you feel today?'' and will start Imitating, by yawning, that he is feeling sleepy. Then, he will ask the same question implying to some of the students. If they do not understand he will start rubbing his belly and will say ''You are feeling hungry!'' simultaneously pointing at the student so that the student will try to understand what the teacher is explaining. This is how the teacher will introduce the new topic ''Feelings''. In the beginning he can say the literal meaning of the topic in the native language so that the students can be at the right pace, they will know what exactly they are learning that day. But the rest of the flow in the class will be conducted only in English. Since the students are familiar with the topic of the course and the teacher has already modelled, demonstrated the structure, he continues with the class activities. First, he shows in front of the class different pictures, flashcards showing the facial and body expressions of a young boy. As the teacher is showing the cards, he is imitating the expressions explaining each individual feeling and makes the students repeat and show after him. The phrases that will be introduced in the class will be: ''How do you feel today? ''; ''I feel…(sleepy)''; ''You feel…(sleepy)''; ''He/She feels…(sleepy)''. On the other hand, the vocabulary used will be: happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, bored, shy, shocked, sleepy, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty. This activity can be followed by a video material showing an animated story about a young boy following different sequences of events. He has just woken up still feeling sleepy and that is why he is yawning. He rubs his belly because he feels hungry and rushes into the kitchen. There he sees a table full of different dishes that his mum has already prepared for him. His face shows that he is surprised and shocked as his eyes are becoming wide open. He takes the sandwich and looks more than happy showing a big smile on his face. Then he makes a sound ''Aaaah'' in this case showing that he is thirsty as well so, that is why he is reaching the bottle of fresh orange juice. Suddenly his mother shows up in the kitchen and her face is turning red which means that she is angry because he did not wait for the rest of the family to have the breakfast together. After each sequence and expression there is a voice that says how the boy is feeling. For example: ''I feel sleepy''. This is an activity that gives the students the opportunity to visualize every single action, feeling so they know how to pronounce it and what it means. The next activity will be using flashcards again, which have pictured individually the different sequences in the story, each showing a certain feeling. The teacher mixes the flashcards and gives the student to take one each. The video will be playing again and as it goes the students should come up in front of the class and follow the sequences of the story showing the appropriate flashcard and pronouncing the correct expression, for instance ''I feel hungry!''. As a last activity the teacher introduces a game. He divides the students into two groups and shows them some items like a bottle, chocolate, pillow, blanket… and explains them that he will say a sentence and they need to go and take the right item that can help them imitate and show that certain feeling. For example, when the teacher says "You feel thirsty!" the student should run and grab the bottle and utter ''I feel thirsty!". The one that will be faster will bring one point to his group. In the end of the game they can all get a candy as a reward!
Considering the material, we use a lot of realia in the form of movies, real items like pillows, chocolates, bottles, pictures so, they can feel, experience, visualize the new words, phrases and that eases and makes the whole learning process more interesting. The more interesting it is the more efficient it will be.
Although in the course vocabulary is more emphasized over grammar, at the same time the students adopt the grammatical forms ''I feel/You feel/He feels'' which makes them able to make a difference between the pronouns and to add -s for the 3rd person singular using the Present Simple Tense. As we can noticed in class they practice role plays and a lot of repetition which again helps them to acquire the knowledge easier.
This gives a clear picture about the student's and the teacher's roles. While introducing the activities teachers are guides and then they have the role of facilitators, assessors and simple playmakers. Students, on the other hand, are imitators when repeating the words, phrases and communicators while doing the role play.
The teacher's attitude towards errors is quite free. They correct them when they have the wrong pronunciation and the correct use of the pronouns like ''I/You'' so they can be aware of the difference at the same time.
The above explained example is meant more for teaching beginners at an young age.
If this material is meant for more advanced students we will use more complex dialogues at a higher level of communication and more adopted material like text books where they can practice debates, role plays, drills.
In the end, we need to conduct the evaluation or assessment. To the teacher, this determines how far the learner has progressed towards the language learning. To the learner, it is an evidence of learning. We will evaluate the students with the use of anecdotal notes as this is meant for young beginners and their skills need to be assessed on a daily bases. Their knowledge needs to be retained by repetition of the old material every day before introducing the new one so, this notes help us to show whether there is an improvement or we need to pay more attention on the repetition of the old material.
All things into consideration, learning the language which is a material constantly changing and its acquisition from the students side depends on so many various factors, the role of the teacher is very important. That’s why choosing the right approach with the correspondent techniques is essential for the learning process.