Assignment on my Own Approach to Teaching
In this assignment I will be writing about my own approach to English teaching based on the methods covered so far in this module and my own beliefs on what I believe would be the best approach based on a variety of factors.
When thinking about the approach I wanted to take, I tried to think about it in terms of what the students want to learn. I believe the best approach would be to teach them English that they can use in their day to day life. Whilst it can be effective to use text books and focus on grammar, I believe this is more beneficial for a student who wants to pursue languages academically or who has a particular interest in how languages work. However, for most people wanting to learn English they want to be able to communicate effectively and be able to understand the language. So assuming that most of the student’s goal is to learn for communication purposes, it would be best to focus on conversational skills.
My method would draw inspiration from the direct method, also known as the natural method as it focuses on acquiring the language in the most natural way, through emersion and there is a strong emphasis on developing conversational skills. There are other methods that also focus on conversational skills such as the Callan method, however this method focuses on drilling a set of pre written sentences and doesn’t allow freedom of conversation and expression in the class room, which I believe would hinder the students’ learning.
The approach would focus on developing speaking skills and the students understanding of English. Grammar will not be taught in the traditional sense such as through text books or the explanation of the grammar rules, but rather through the inductive approach, meaning students find out the grammar rules through the presentation of linguistic forms in the target language. However should the student need more explanation on a certain grammar point, the teacher would be able to offer it.
In the classroom only English would be spoken, this is due to the theory that language is acquired easier when the learner is immersed in it. For example, when a child learns their mother tongue they are only spoken to in that language but learn from hearing it and associating the words with things they see. So, if teachers need to explain something to a student they can act it out, use hand gestures, point to objects etc, but they must avoid translating it into the student’s native tongue. When a student knows that their teacher speaks their native language they can become hesitant to use English as they might be scared to make mistakes, so they will use their native tongue as a security blanket when they’re not sure what to say. However if they don’t know that the teacher speaks their native language they’ll think that they won’t be understood unless they speak English so will have to speak it. For this reason it is preferable that teachers don’t disclose that they speak the language or translate for the students.
The syllabus would be organised into a topic based syllabus so each lesson would focus on a different scenario that could happen in real life for example, being in an airport or talking to a supplier in a work environment. This means they are learning the most effective vocabulary and structures to use English in situations that are likely to occur in an English speaking country or when speaking to a native speaker. This could also be adjusted depending on who the students are and their motivations. For example, if we were teaching lawyers we could make a syllabus based on situations lawyers are likely to face. Obviously for lower level students this would have to be adjusted so they could grasp the fundamentals of the language.
In the classroom the teacher’s main role is to be a facilitator. By this I mean they set up situations to encourage the students to talk and do not talk too much themselves. They help to manage the students learning and they also act as a resource, passing on knowledge to students when they need it. As well as this, they need to be a guide, there to take the lesson in the right direction and not allowing it to get off track. Finally, it is important that the teacher is a needs analyst, paying attention to the students as individuals and assessing whether they’re in the correct level or if they need help with a particular area.
In the class the student’s main role will be to be communicators so they are active in their own development and learn by talking and using the language. As well as this they will be self managers, they will be in charge of their own learning and work alongside the teacher during activities. They also can take on corrections and apply them when using the language and aren’t afraid to ask the teacher for help when it is needed. This approach puts a lot on the students being motivated enough to take control of their own progress, however I believe it is important to trust the students and for them to see the teacher more like a peer rather than an authority figure as this peer to peer respect is a big motivation for students to want to do well.
In terms of how the student will be assessed, rather than them being evaluated at the end of the course with an exam or a project, the assessment would be continuous and feedback would be given to the student after every lesson. Students would also be given the opportunity to evaluate themselves so they have the opportunity to tell the teacher if there is anything they’d like to cover or would like help with. Also when it comes to the teacher correcting the student during the class, they should try to avoid interrupting the student especially during conversational activities. Instead the teacher would make notes of any persistent errors and feed these back to the student when they have finished talking.
In the classroom the lesson would start off with the teacher introducing the topic by going through useful phrases and vocabulary and demonstrating when this language might be used. Then the teacher would move on to the communicative activities. With lower level students the communicative activities would be based round repetition drills for absolute beginners, where the students would practice particular structures and vocabulary presented to them by the teacher. For lower levels, but not absolute beginners, substitution drills would be used as they are slightly more interactive and give the student the chance to practice changing a word or structure based on a question they are asked. Due to the nature of the method where only English is used and never their native tongue, these kinds of activities are very important in helping to develop language skills in lower level students.
For more advanced students, the teacher would build on their knowledge by encouraging them to use it in a natural way for example through role-play exercises, which are especially essential due to the topic based syllabus. They would be given a scenario and role and encouraged to play these out independently with minimal guidance from the teacher. Cue card dialogues would also be used as they are similarly effective. Debates about certain current affair topics would be another useful activity as they encourage discussions and it also means that students can give their opinions on the topic whilst using the language independently. The classes would end with the teacher asking the students questions about the topic to check their knowledge and encouraging the students to ask any questions they might have. The teacher would also give feedback to the students individually.
When teaching different levels obviously the material will have to adapted, for example in lower levels, there would be easier vocabulary and more focus on practicing pronunciation as this is something that many beginners will struggle with. As previously mentioned the activities in the classroom would be adjusted to lower levels as we have to build up their knowledge before encouraging them to practice their conversational skills.
For younger age groups the activities would be more interactive especially with younger children as they can get bored easily. Also, we can’t cover the same topics with them as with adults as they may be inappropriate, they may not understand them or they might just be boring for them. We can also tailor this approach depending on who we are teaching and what their motivations are. For example in a business we could focus on using conversational skills around topics based on business English, so what they are learning is relevant to their end goal.
In conclusion, I believe this approach is something that can work for a lot of people and different learning types and the objectives fit in with what most people are looking for. As someone who has been a language student, I sometimes struggled with the text book grammar approach. I found it boring, repetitive and irrelevant to the reason I chose to study languages in the first place. It wasn’t until I lived abroad for a year and I was immersed in the language that I began to learn it quickly. I also believe that the approach my university took in teaching languages did not prepare me for any real life situations when abroad. That is why I believe it is important to really prepare the students to be able to use English in a real life scenario, by teaching them speaking and listening skills, reading and writing skills will eventually follow.
Here is an example of a class syllabus that would be used with my approach:
Objective: SS to be able to use the new vocabulary and phrases in the correct context
Description: Teacher presents new material to students and then asks questions to check understanding of it
Sub Issue: Talking to Suppliers
Description: Students to read text related to the world of work and teacher to facilitate discussion based on the text, explaining any new vocabulary. Build on this new vocabulary by giving students cue cards to act out a role play related to talking to suppliers
Sub Issue- Adverbs of frequency: always, never, usually, sometimes, often etc. Adverbials of time: Once a week, twice a month etc.
Class Round up- (5 Minutes)
- To check SS understands the vocabulary, structures and topics covered in the lesson
Description: Teacher asks students questions based on what was covered in the class today. Offers them the chance to ask questions and gives them feedback.