There are various teaching approaches and they are all equally good. Its the way that the teachers carry out their approach that makes it effective and successful. My goal is for students to learn to think and communicate in English.
The key to learn is to be motivated, especially when you are learning a new language. At the end it is the student that decides to retain that given information or not, you cannot force a language on another person, but you can make it fun and interesting so that the students are always motivated. Once you can keep them motivated you can focus on their target goal, which is always to speak and understand English, their needs may change but the goal will remain the same. By using affective factors, such as a nice environment filled with positive energy will make achieving that goal much easier.
We know that language can be divided in two separate sections, the fluent section where you practice your macro skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing, but in order to be accurate we also have to focus on grammar, spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary. We also know that a language is mostly acquired, not taught. Think of how you acquired your native language, did you start by reading and writing or by discovering the meaning of words and how to put them together? Didn’t you start by repeating everything you heard from your parents and then correcting yourself and expanding your vocabulary? Shouldn’t every language be taught that way?
Before the course starts, the students will be interviewed and filmed without their knowledge, this video will be given to them at the end of the course so that they see the progress they did. This way students will remain motivated and hopefully keep on practicing throughout their life.
What I’m proposing is a different approach to teach English or any other language; following a cognitive and communicative approach where the prior knowledge will always be used and encourage the students to think and create new knowledge.
The human mind is very complex and different from others, the only thing that we all truly have in common is the desperate need to communicate with others. I suggest that we learn through communication.
Imagine a big open colourful room filled with couches, pillows, tables and books that make every student comfortable and relaxed. A place where the common room is the most important room, where students can practice with other students from different levels and ages allowing them to challenge themselves as much as they want. A place where students can come and practice whenever they want and the only language permitted will be English. This environment can make learning fun and new, but we also need to control it by highlighting that students must respect school material and each other. Teachers will be in the common room in between classes therefore allowing students to reach out for help, advice and one-to-one conversation opportunities.
The syllabus of the course is very important; it describes the steps that we want to take in order to achieve our goal. My syllabus would be structure and function based, where the students will learn to listen to English from their teacher, media and their peers, they will have to pay close attention in order to make a logical response in English. They will be given reading material from books and selected texts and on-line games and apps where they will be learning grammar structures and new vocabulary in a fun way. Technology has become a very important part in our life, I suggest we use it in our favour, this way we can monitor the students by accessing the apps to see what the student have the most difficulty with. Students will also be given writing assignments, where they will write whatever they want just as long as they use the structures and vocabulary learnt in class. Creative writing is the best to keep students motivated because they will almost always write about something they like.
By surrounding students in an English only environment, I hope they overcome the main barrier of speaking a second language by eliminating the interlanguage problems of second language translation, overgeneralization and simplification. Sense they will be given all instruction and all the activities in English and the speed of these will be fast , the students have to concentrate enough so that they learn that translating is a waste of time and they will be more inclined to think in English.
For this to succeed, the teacher needs to always be prepared before class and keep a nice positive energy, corrections will be subtle at first and only repeated errors will be truly corrected, correction from peers will be advised if they are respectful. The teacher will have the roles of a needs analyst (at the beginning of the course to see what the student needs and how to keep them motivated), playmaker (teaching under this environment can become difficult, the teacher needs to be able to control STT), conversationalist (having a nice topic can help the students engage more in the conversation, therefore practicing their language) and psychologist (the teacher hast to know what the students are understanding and how to improve).
Students will have to learn to respect others and participation will be needed for this learning process to succeed because the students’ role will be as important as the teachers´. They will have to participate as much as they can, share their knowledge with the class and help others with understanding problems, this way students can also become co-teachers and help explain concepts with a different point of view. They will have show up for a minimum of hours (depending on their level and needs) but the center will remain open if the student wants to practice after class.
This approach will be the same for students of different levels and different ages, it will be adapted for their level and it will be made more age appropriate for kinds, but the concept of fun learning will be the same. The idea is to make the student fell that they are free to learn and that nothing is really an obligation, because if you fell like you are being forced into learning you will never learn.
As I said previously, technology has become truly important in our life, this tool can help us assess the students’ grammar and spelling through apps and writing assignments, and their pronunciation and speaking will be assessed in class.
Teachers will have a public “diary” where they will write down what has been taught in class and the students’ reaction if they had a hard time grasping the material. This way the assessments will be formative. The students and the teachers will be able to see the progress that they’ve had.
Here is an example of how a class will be structured:
In conclusion, this approach will benefit the students by making learning fun and they’ll stay motivated until they achieve their goals, they will learn to understand all kinds of accents and crate a meaningful response, they will learn to think and correct themselves and they will be able to express their feeling, desires and opinions. They will be in a way their own teachers and they will learn to accept correction from others.