Tim Parker
Certified English teacher profile

Tim Parker TEFL certificate Tim TEFL certificate





My teaching approach

My approach to teaching

This essay will focus on explaining how i approach teaching and where i have got my ideas from. Some of the ideas are my own but after learning about many different styles of teaching, some good, some bad and and just some bizarre techniques i have been able to take aspects of each which i like myself and put them together into my own approach to teaching.
Students learn only when they really want to learn. If someone does not care about what they are reading, writing or listening to then they aren’t going to take any of it in. Luckily most of the time when we are dealing with students that are learning a second language they want to for a good reason, whether that is for academic studies, work or even just for travelling. No one can be forced to learn a second or even a third language. Most of the students we deal with want to learn and engage, because of this i think this should affect the way i teach a class.
First of all i would focus on the 4 macro skills which are essential to learning any language, whether that be as a child before you have uttered a word or 30 or 40 years later when you fancy a new challenge. These 4 Macro skills are Listening, speaking, reading and writing. Without these 4 basic skills then it is nearly impossible for anyone to learn a new language. The other 4 language areas of vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and spelling would be focused on further down the line. So students can learn and practise these skills straight away i would take a communicative approach. Because of this communicative approach i would teach in as much of a relaxed and open environment as possible so the students feel confident and comfortable enough for them to speak as much as possible.  It would not be as relaxed as the suggestopedia method of teaching where calm relaxing music is played and everyone is sat on comfy chairs or bean bags, but i definitely think that if students are relaxed and in a comfortable environment then they can absorb the language with much more efficiency. If the students do not talk and engage in the class then it is nearly impossible to have a communicative approach to teaching and learning english. Krashen argued that acquisition of language is unconscious and spontaneous while learning is a conscious act. Because of this i would in a way want to “trick” students into learning english. I would want to be their guide to learning english, not so much their teacher. If they can learn in a manner which they do not even see it as being taught and they are freely acquiring the language then they will most likely learn quicker and more enjoyable way.
One of the most important things when it comes to teaching language though is understanding that students will have differing levels of ability and having empathy for it. Sometimes it isn't possible for everyone in the same class to have the same level of english and because of this it is very important to have empathy for these students. I think it is best to go slowly through the material, if needs be. There is no point rushing through material if the student does not understand what it is you try to teach. If i am teaching a class of differing levels then i would try and use the students with higher levels of english to help out the students who have lower levels. I would do this because if someone requires more teaching time because they are a lower level the students with higher levels of english may feel left out and even bored in the class. So to include them i would get them to help the other students, by explaining and going through it themselves. Ideally they would do this in the target language and not their own native language also, so in a way they are practising their own english while they help the lower level students.
Another area  i would focus on though is the ability for the student to use the language in real life situations. What is the point in learning a language when you don't know when or even how to use it properly? One of the most important things i believe in learning a language in learning the context of the language so when i teach i would always teach english with the context, or to get the students to understand the context of the language. I would always give examples of where you could use or how it is used in real world situations so the students know and understand when and where the target language can be used.  
Most students learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, where the student feel they need written signs, book or pictures to learn, adults seem to think that they need written texts to learn because of school and university but pictures and flash cards can be just as effective for adults. Some people are auditory learners where they have to hear things to learn, this for instance is how children learn everything until they can read and write. The final type of learning is kinesthetic learning where the student learns through body language and actions. For me as a teacher i would try and encompass all three styles to suit all different kinds of learning. I also believe that students are capable of learning through all 3 styles, i do not believe that anyone has a strict way in which they learn. Using the different kinds of learning can also help at different levels of english. For instance at lower levels body language,as used in total physical response, and flash card or pictures may help with lower level students for them to quickly learn and understand the meanings of the words. This is why i also think it is important to have varied teaching materials. I would have pictures, flashcards, texts, videos, songs and many others. For me the more variety the better and if the students enjoy the classes and learn more through this variety i think it would be perfect. I would encompass this in my syllabus which i would write to be mostly based on topics and situations. This topic and situational based syllabus could be catered for students needs and interests. It also helps with providing context to the language and help them use the language appropriately in real world situations. If a student is able to tell me what reason they want to learn english whether that be for business or travel or for whatever reason i would be able to cater the syllabus to their own needs and again doing this through teaching different english of different topics and situations.
Another important factor you have to take into account when teaching a second language is the grading of your language. When teaching lower levels it is vital that i grade my language. If i did not grade my language then the students at lower levels would probably find it very difficult to understand what i am saying. Colloquials and phrasal verbs should not be used with these lower levels as these are two of the hardest thing for people to learn and lower level students would not be able to understand. This could lead to the students becoming frustrated and not wanting to engage in the class. For higher levels less grading is needed, i believe once a student's level is starting to get high then it is acceptable to speak a bit more naturally to how i normally would. The more natural i speak then the more practise the student will have listening to a native accent and being able to understand it and they even learn from the more complex vocabulary that i use.
The final thing i want to talk about is assessment. One of the of things that any student hates when it comes to learning or going to school and that is being assessed whether that being in a formal exam or being assessed over the course of a period of time. For me i do not believe in formal exams for the students to see what level they are. I believe that assessment of the students should just be through noticeable progression rather than putting pressure on the student on a set date. If they do not perform on the day they could end up going into a lower level class and Most students learn in different ways. Some are visual learners, some kinesthetic and some auditory learners. I feel it is important to naturally assess the students over time rather than piling all that pressure onto them and for them to possibly fail. If there was need for a formal test in anyway i would make it a oral exam mainly because the way i teach would be about communication and conversations so i feel that if i asked them to do an exam which is different to how they learnt would confuse them.