My approach teaching English
I have always had interest in language acquisition as I speak five languages myself and I have learnt them all when I was a child through the natural way. Besides the five languages I speak, which are: English, Dutch, German, Spanish and Papiamento ( a creole language spoken in the Dutch Antilles ), I have also studied Latin, ancient Greek and French.
With these last languages I learnt on a later stage I can’t actually say I really acquired none of them. I learnt all the grammar rules, but I never actually practised any speaking.
That’s why I like to focus less on grammar during English classes, but more on making the student speak as much as possible and teach them vocabulary of real life situations.
My main goal as a teacher is to make my students learn how to communicate and express themselves in the most efficient way.
In order to achieve this, it is necessary to identify each learner’s needs.
A class will never be the same for a shy learner, a very daring person or someone who doesn’t have a lot of interest but is forced to learn.
In any case it is important to create a suitable environment and make sure that the learner feels comfortable and even enjoys the classes. This can be achieved by praising your students a lot and be more of a guide for them instead of playing the traditional teacher role.
To teach English or any language I believe that we have to try to focus on speaking and listening skills, as this is basically how we learnt our first language. Both skills go together as when learning a language we reproduce the sounds we have heard before.
This is why it is very important to grade the language to each student’s level, to make sure they get the most of the ‘teacher talking time’, to they can imitate these sounds later on.
I would organize the course by focusing mainly on real life situations and explaining functions of the language, rather than grammar rules.For me this is the most efficient way for learner to actually when a certain tense or vocabulary is used, and linking this to real situations they are more likely to remember it as well.
I try to make my classes always start with a short warm up making questions asking how the students are and how they day was or how they feel, if possible it is also a good assessment to ask them questions about previous classes to make sure, that they have engaged what they learnt earlier, a few random questions is also a good warm up to get the learner’s complete attention.
After that I consider it is better to start with a topic using a text, picture or video and introduce some structure and vocabulary, trying to make the learner to practice all they just learnt as much as possible.
Correction of mistakes during these activities is necessary of course, but this is something that I consider has to be graded to the students level too.
When teaching students of a P2 level for example it can be very frustrating for them if we correct every single mistake they make. It is better to point out the things they are improving and correct only the most repetitive mistakes.
On the other hand, when teaching a level P5 it is better to be a little bit more demanding and point out more mistakes, as on this level you should not have as many mistakes as in a lower level.
However with any level it is better to let the student finish their speech, take note of their mistakes and point these out once they finish in order not to disencourage them and to keep them focused on their speech.
Another thing that I consider very important is that the class is mainly in Spanish, even though I speak Spanish and I understand what a learner says, I’d rather not answer back in Spanish.
When a student doesn’t understand much English, I’d rather give them examples, make drawings or make them understand with gestures rather than telling them the English translation.
I believe students tend to get lazy and focus less when they know you will understand them in Spanish anyways or you give them the answers in Spanish. In real life situations, when speaking to a English speaker, they will not have this option, so it is best to prepare them for these situations.
To assess my learner’s outcomes, after each class, I believe it is important to check if the students understood everything and if they remember all new words learnt. Whenever possible it is also good to do a look-back when starting the next class, to make sure they are engaging what they learn.
To sum up, to be a good teacher,self-assessment is the most important, you need to see what you do and see if you can do it better after each class.
Besides this I believe you need to be a psychologist and a needs analyst so you can adapt to the learner’s needs and their profile, age, their motivation, level and their mother tongue to understand their interlanguage.
Once you find out how to approach your student’s single needs the best, it is time to get them speaking as much as possible, teach them how to get along with the English language in real life situations, and keep them motivate making sure they enjoy each lesson.