My own approach to teaching
There are different
opportunities and ways of learning a language which are through studies, work,
travelling, or interaction with native speakers. Perhaps they are good ways,
but the best quality of learning is highly dependent on the teaching methodologies.
There are also effective, motivating and engaging ways of learning which
address the needs of millions of people who want to learn or improve their
command of English; and this implies consideration to their age groups and
As we have mentioned,
teaching methodologies are crucial in teaching and have different outcomes.
They are principles and methods used for instruction to be implemented by
teachers to achieve the desired learning in students. For a particular teaching
method to be appropriate and efficient it has to be in relation with the
characteristic of the learner and the type of learning it is supposed to bring
about. Some learners just enjoy learning English which is an intrinsic need; whereas
others want to learn just to pass an exam, or because it is required in their professions.
The latter are extrinsic needs. However, there are different types of teaching
Firstly, the Grammar
Translation Method in which students learn grammar rules and apply them by
translating between source language and their own language. The students do not
practice communication and there is little focus on speaking. It is considered
an ineffective method.
Secondly, the Direct
Method in which teaching focuses on oral skills, but with no emphasis on the study of
grammar. The classroom instruction is conducted exclusively in the target
language. In small intensive classrooms, oral skills are built up in a
carefully graded progression organized around questions and answers which are
exchanged between teachers and students. Only everyday vocabulary and sentences
are taught, while grammar is taught inductively. However, there are some drawbacks.
For instance, it requires teachers who are native speakers or who have native
like fluency; and it was largely dependent on teacher’s skills rather than
textbooks, and some teachers are not proficient enough to adhere to the
principles of the method.
Thirdly, the Audio-lingual
method which is similar to the Direct Method, but with no emphasis on vocabulary. This
extensive memorization, repetition and over-learning of patterns were the key
to the method’s success, as students could often see immediate results, but it
was also its weakness.
Fourthly, the Silent Way is
in which making extensive use of silence as a teaching technique. In this method
leaners need to discover or create, and learning is made easy by using physical
objects such as Cuisenaire rods; and also by problem solving; and using the
target language. Students interact with each other, but silence of a teacher
can prevent them from learning any active model. Furthermore, students may be
confused with the symbol of coloured rods, and waste too much time with a
concept that would be easy clarified by the teacher’s direct guide.
Fifthly, Suggestopedia in
which teaching involves music, comfortable and relaxing environment. The teacher has authority
of the classroom and is the source of the info. Students just memorize, but
there is no comprehension neither problem solving skills which are needed in
understanding and interacting in different unpredictable situations. In
addition, it is impractical in the sense of the availability of music and
providing comfortable chairs for all the class.
Sixthly, the Communicative
Approach integrates listening, speaking, reading and writing (Macro skills) for
communicative competence. Moreover, it is meaningful to learners and provides
learning a language rather than through grammar rules. That means students
discover grammar rules inductively. It has emphasis in real communication and
learners are provided with opportunities to experiment what they know, while the
teacher monitors and tolerates their errors.
Lastly, Total Physical
Response in which there is coordination between language and physical movement.
It is based on how children learn their mother tongue, and as such it tends to
mirror this effect in the language classroom. The teacher as a parent says a
command, while the students as children respond to it. Later, students can direct
each other or the whole class. It has emphasis on teaching vocabulary, tenses,
imperatives and story telling. It is fun, memorable and good for kinaesthetic
learners. Moreover, it helps them use the target language, and there is less
preparation for class. However, this method may be suitable for beginner levels
and young learners, and we must bear in mind not everything is taught with it.
From the above mentioned
methodologies, I suggest that the communicative approach is much more effective
than the others because it has emphasis on all the macro skills. However, I do
not oppose borrowing some techniques from other methodologies which best fit
One of the integral parts
of a planned course is the syllabus.
Structure based; skill based; and content based are some types of syllabi.
However, I assume that for a communicative approach, the following syllabi are to
be considered. Firstly, a function based syllabus which helps students express
their own ideas, notions, and purposes (activity: asking for directions). Secondly,
a situation based syllabus which focuses on real imaginary situations in which languages
occur (activity: at the metro station).
Lastly, a task based syllabus which focuses on activities that are carried out
when a target language is needed (activity: comparing given figures to identify
similarities and differences).
There are different
classroom activities. However, I consider some are much more effective for
communication. For instance, a role play activity is a way of getting students
to speak and they immediately apply content in relevant real world context. In
addition, an interview activity gives students a chance to practice their
speaking ability not only in class but also outside and helps them becoming
socialized. Moreover, an information gap is a pair work activity. One student
will have the information that the other partner does not have and the partners
will share their information. Information gap activities serve many purposes
such as solving a problem or collecting information. These activities are
effective because everybody has the opportunity to talk extensively in the
target language. Last but not least, we could consider some more activities
such as describing illustrations; find the difference; and ESL games which will
make a class more interesting and fun. In all any activity which is helpful for
developing proficiency in speaking fluency, listening comprehension, as well as
improving reading comprehension and writing ability through written or text
chats should be recommended.
Teachers and students roles:
In a classroom there are
roles carried out by the teacher, while others by the students. I believe that the
most important roles of a teacher are to monitor, facilitate, tolerate errors, guide,
assess and be a psychologist. On the other hand, the student’s roles are to be
motivated; be willing to ask questions; be able to think how to learn; accepting
corrections; and taking responsibility.
Teachers should specify
their learner’s needs and goals before starting a class. For such reason considering
learners level and age group are crucial. There are affective factors which
have effects on the learning process. These factors include motivation,
opportunity, the environment and personality. Achieving better results; expanding
knowledge of the target language; relaxing environment; and anxiety are
examples for each of the affective factors mentioned respectively.
Assessment and Materials:
Assessment is necessary, but
which type is more effective? According to my observations, I see the formative
assessment is ideal. It is an on going process and for this reason it provides
information which can help instructions; and provides immediate feedback on
students. There is no end of term exam in a formative assessment which I agree
with because it has negative factors (i.e. anxiety) which could affect student’s
When it comes to
materials, I tend to believe that whatever helps in the learning process is
vital. Authentic course books should be available as references. Moreover, we
must understand that learners have different styles of learning i.e. visual,
auditory, and kinesthetic. This means we should also focus on the facilities; for
instance, the current language labs are more or less like traditional
classrooms (i.e. students sitting on their desks facing the board). So in order
to improve them, it is essential to provide wireless headsets, speakers and
terminals. Having wireless devices makes it a lot easier for the teachers to
order the way they want their students seated or positioned (e.g. facing each
other or moving around). In addition, provision of widescreen TVs, interactive
whiteboards, internet/server, PCs, tablets. These not only help a lot in audio
and visual activities, but also help learners experience the use of language in
real time events. All these make a class much engaging and fun.
To sum up, in my opinion, all
the different teaching methodologies could be an integral to the communicative
approach. For this reason, I consider that once a person is committed to learn
a language for whatsoever reason, they should focus on the macro skills, and
with teacher’s guidance, regular practice and interaction, they will gradually
improve their command in English with much fluency and accuracy.