How would I approach teaching English?
The purpose of this essay is to describe how I would approach teaching English and why I think it would be the most beneficial for students.
Teaching and learning has changed significantly in the 20th Century. The classroom environment has become more student-centred, while teachers are more a facilitator of learning. In past, teaching was based on syllabus, memorizing vocabulary and translating into a native language. This method we call grammar-translation method. Nowadays, the techniques are more situational, so grammar and vocabulary can be taught in contexts in which you might realistically use it. Instead of forcing students to memorize lots of expressions, we should provide adequate situations for them to practise and understand the function of the language. (Communicative approach)
A language teacher must have knowledge about the particular language he teaches. He must know how the language works. There are four elements, which must work harmoniously. These are: material, syllabus, methods and tactics (classroom activities).
According to academic research, linguists have demonstrated that there is not one single best method for everyone in all contexts and that no one teaching method is inherently superior to the others. Also, it is not always possible or appropriate to apply the same methodology to all learners, who have different objectives, environments and learning needs. You need to always consider student’s needs and reasons for learning and how to motivate them. Some people want to improve their speaking only, but on the other hand there are students they need to focus on improving all parts of language skills to pass some important exam.
My opinion is that every lesson should be different. Teachers should not follow the same structure of lessons. I would personally try to include all language areas such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling. I would always try to focus on developing not only speaking and listening, but also reading and writing. As I have mentioned it before, it always depends on student’s needs.
I would choose generally a communicative language teaching approach as a main part of my structure. My opinion is that interaction between teachers and students is very important and learning how to understand the language through active student’s interaction, role play and games is excellent.
An example of how I would structure a class lesson:
Let’s say the objective of a lesson is introducing present perfect simple grammar, (Topic- daily routines, structure, vocabulary activities), level P3-intermediate. Target language selected carefully according to the level of students and has to be relevant for the topic and for the activities.
At the beginning of a lesson I would do a quick warm up to get students to be active. It could be based on discussion what they did at the weekend, what plans do they have for the next few days and so on. After that, I would give them an example of what I did yesterday and lead in to present perfect sentence to show students how the present perfect is formed.
The example: Yesterday, I had a busy day. I received a lot of emails.
I have received only a few today.
I would provide as many examples as necessary. The main objective in this case is to explain the contrast between past simple and present perfect. I could create two columns. On one side it would be phrases that go with finished time such as last year, last month, yesterday, and on the other side phrases that go with unfinished time such as today, this week, this year... In this case, I would look for materials in Cambridge English Grammar in Use, which is a practice book for intermediate learners of English.
Then, I would start to ask students questions to practice present perfect in affirmative, negative and interrogative forms. (Direct method combined with communicative approach, listening and speaking skills). No matter what the level of the students is, it is essential to always remember the golden rule of topic activities – let students do the talking.
As next activity, I would show them few pictures to describe what has happened. As a material I would use pictures from different web sites. Students learn and practice target language, grammar, speaking and also learn new vocabulary, its pronunciation and meaning of the new words. For kids, also cross word or word search are good activities how to introduce new vocabulary. To remember new words, they can either be asked to create a sentence with that word or to match them with their meanings. As a teacher, I would correct pronunciation and grammatical errors all the time, because I think it is very important to learn since the beginning how to pronounce correctly or use the correct grammar. Later it is very difficult to convince students to change it.
Another activity I would use is watching a short video- animation movie where you can see a day of a mouse. (Material can be found online on YouTube). Before playing the video I would ask students to write ten sentences about what they have done today and after to watch the video and write ten sentences what they have not done same as the mouse. Students practice their listening, writing and using a new grammar. In my opinion, watching videos, short clip or a part of a movie is very interesting for most of students. Only learning language through grammar and exercise is boring. But add to the lesson either video, pictures or role play activity makes students more motivated and they have fun while learning.
Role play is a very good activity when you want to use a situation-based approach. Students can learn a language needed in everyday life and how to use the target language. In this example, it could be a task to play being at school and discuss what they have already done that day (using present perfect) and what they still need to do.
Another really good activity is listening to a song. It can motivate students to really practise their skills as they want to understand what their favourite song is about. In this lesson, I could play a song where it is used present perfect quiet often and ask students to try to find them. (Fill – gap activity)
At the end of that lesson I would play a game. Really good game to practice vocabulary and pronunciation is a game called STOP! (Students try to think of a city, an animal, food/drink, and a famous person starting with a particular letter as quick as they can.) Or Guess who am I? (To practice how to form questions.) I am always trying to think of a game to use the particular target language and objectives in practice.
To finish the lesson I would ask few wrap-up questions to evaluate students learning outcomes, mainly to see their progress and understanding. Next lesson, I would start with asking questions using present perfect to see if students remember and practice more times with different topics and try to grade the language. Assessment should reflect the learning goals of the lesson.
Of course, this example cannot be used for all levels. But you can always make it easier and instead of present perfect tenses to use just present simple structure for beginners when you want them to speak about their daily routines, or you can make it more difficult and emphasize duration using present perfect continuous or upgrade it to past perfect tenses.
During the lesson as a teacher I would act as a supporter and facilitator. From my point of view, it is very important that teacher build rapport with students. They need to feel encouraged and motivated. The more interesting lessons are, the more motivated students will be.
I would try to develop positive affective factors by doing activities to build a positive group by including student in deciding aspects of the course and choosing activities that are motivating for the age and interests of the learners.
I would always try to make it more interesting using different teaching approaches. As it was mentioned earlier, it always depends on students’ needs.
In my opinion, for example TPR (total physical response) is very good approach, especially for kids or beginners it can be fun and create positive thinking, when they learn through physical activities new vocabulary and understand target language immediately. But even this method cannot stay alone. Not everything can be explained with this method, it must be combined with other approaches.
In conclusion, the lesson will never be successful if it is not prepared. Only well-prepared class enable students to learn and grade their language. Furthermore, it is only possible to have a well-prepared class if we have a well-structured course syllabus that defines goals and objectives and also to think of time for each activity. The correct timing will ensure a successful learning process. Teacher should always have prepared activities, try to adapt to group and conditions, create positive atmosphere and good rapport with students.