My teaching approach is a synthesis of the direct and communicative approach. As a teacher who is comfortable with and has adopted a conversationalist style of teaching, I believe this is the most effective way to motivate a class. By way of facilitating a conversation, or a discussion, which involves the exchange of ideas, incites a higher level of understanding and learning. The communicative approach may be difficult for students who are used to the more traditional or direct approach via lectures and assessments by way of exams. In the communicative approach, the real-life or everyday responses. Students are therefore motivated to learn by being motivated to communicate in meaningful ways about meaningful topics.
Some teachers may argue that discussions are not the most appropriate approach to complete or accomplish the goals of an English teacher. However, while a discussion does refer more to the arguing of points of view whereas dialogue refers to an exchange of ideas; the instructional intent is to allow for students to move beyond the direct approach and create and formulate thoughts and idea by way of sentences. So often, we are not taught how to effectively speak in school. Instead, we are instructed by way of grammar translation, etc. My goal, as a teacher, is to teach students how to communicate effective. The most interesting and beneficial way is via a conversation.
Through a conversation, the teacher can gauge the students’ needs and their reasons for learning. By maneuvering the conversation to topics that would pique the students’ interests. This would assist in keeping the students motivated. In this respect, the language skills and language areas that would be focused on would be task, situation and skill-based syllabi. Class would be organized in a communal style with chairs around a large table. This would assist students in an office or meeting setting and also promotes group or teamwork.
First part of the class would comprise an icebreaker. Ask the students to break up into pairs and ask questions about themselves, for example:
What is your name?
How old are you?
What are your hobbies?
And then, the students will need to present the other to the class. This exercise assists in warming up the students as well as aiding in their practice of conversation.
The practice of the Target Language (TL) would be incorporated into the conversations with the use of debates, role-playing and discussions. In this way, the teacher’s attitude towards errors would be more organic and assisting students in the conversation. Therefore, the teacher’s roles would include a facilitator, etc. while the students’ role would mainly to act as a communicator or facilitator of knowledge as well.
To assist in learning language skills (e.g. speaking, listening, reading and writing) students can prepare debates, for example, and read their speeches to the class. Students can listen to the debates and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the argument. In this exercise, all the language areas (e.g. grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling) will be addressed.
Different age groups would be approached differently. This is where the direct approach would be beneficial to use for children whereas the communicative approach would be used for adult students. For example, the teacher could use cards with different names on them. As the teacher, I would model or give an example of an exchange of introductions using the Target Language (TL). If the students are children it may be helpful to use the mother tongue as well. In addition, it may be helpful to show a video or hear a recorded exchange between two individuals using the TL, especially if the beginners have never been introduced to the TL. This is a very good opportunity to explain the different words used for the same term in different countries (i.e. lift or elevator). Finally, the teacher can explain some of the grammar points and structures used.
For advanced students, exercise which allow the students to create and construct themselves would be beneficial. The following exercise is adapted from a 1987 workshop on communicative foreign language teaching, given for Delaware language teachers by Karen Willetts and Lynn Thompson of the Center for Applied Linguistics. Students should listen to a conversation taking place in public and eavesdrop with these key questions in mind:
1. Who was talking?
2. About how old were they?
3. Where were they when you eavesdropped?
4. What were they talking about?
5. What did they say?
6. Did they become aware that you were listening to them?
This exercise assists in immersing students in practicing reporting in real time with real situations. This could lead to a discussion of what was overheard and the students are encouraged to provide their opinions, experiences and viewpoints. In this manner, the teacher can choose topics that the students are interested in. For example, the students are interested in traveling. In this case, the TL can be concerned with vocabulary regarding the airport, vacations (holidays), and trips. a real-world listening situation where they must report information overheard. Most likely they have an opinion of the topic, and a class discussion could follow, in the target language, about their experiences and viewpoints. Communicative exercises such as this motivate the students by treating topics of their choice, at an appropriately challenging level.
In communicative classrooms, teachers usually act as active facilitators will find themselves talking less and listening more--becoming active facilitators of their students' learning (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). The teacher sets up the exercise, but because the students' performance is the goal, the teacher must step back and observe, sometimes acting as referee or monitor. A classroom during a communicative activity is far from quiet, however. The students do most of the speaking, and frequently the scene of a classroom during a communicative exercise is active, with students leaving their seats to complete a task.
Materials have the ability to be integrated into the exercises and provide a foundation for language-learning. Three types of materials are the most beneficial: text-based materials, task-based materials and object-based.
Text-based material, like books, especially ones with illustrations, provide students numerous way to express themselves and create conversations. Task-based material consists of exercise handbooks, cue cards, activity cards, pair-communication practice materials and student-interaction practice booklets. Finally, using objects such as newspaper articles, photos, and maps, symbols can assist students, especially tactile learners, by touching objects. This can assist in the speaking and learning process by making the concepts more concrete and meaningful.
A rating chart with levels can be used to assess the students. The rating chart can consist of the following criteria: spoke clearly with confidence and expression, spoke using vocabulary and language structures taught in class, spoke with natural flow and only minor hesitations, spoke using a variety of communication strategies (asking to repeat, using gestures, asking for clarification), came prepared to present and was focused during other people’s presentations.
With this rating scale, the teacher has the ability to meet with students on an individual level. AS the teacher, I would interview them with 4 to 5 theme-related questions and they would have to answer impromptu. This will allow the teacher, to gain true insight into the fluency level if the student as well as build a rapport with each one personally. The assessment ultimately would derive from the syllabus progress. Presentations, participation in discussions, and debates would be ways to assess the students’ progress. For example, a beginner would be assessed based on understanding primary or basic concepts such as colors, shapes and numbers. As the student advances through the weeks, he/she can advance in concepts and grammar. This approach, furthermore, can be adapted to meet the objectives/teaching and learning goals as well as meeting the students’ needs.
In summary, the communicative approach with a mixture of the direct approach would be my chosen teaching style. The interaction between the students and teachers is greater than any other approach. This approach also allows to pass on basic knowledge and ability to skillfully combine the development. This is done primarily through conversation and discussions. In this respect, the student’s interest is greatly enhanced. While some of the disadvantages state that the classroom environment is not real or that the classroom has too many students. I would suggest not holding large classes with the communicative approach. Another disadvantage is that this approach focusses too much on oral skills. While this may be true, if this approach is incorporated with another approach, such as a direct approach, I believe this will aid in enhancing reading, writing and listening skills. This approach would be the most beneficial to motivate students and aid in not only learning the language, but also to practice speech, listening, reading and writing skills.