My teaching approach
My teaching approach
Teaching English as a foreign language is a very new experience to me. I have found the training, observation and teaching practice to be very interesting and board. The large variety of different teaching methods through history and to this very day have been a very big eye opener as to how personalised an individuals teaching methods can be. I feel that through all of the newly gained information I have been provided that I can certainly apply a lot of these methods to my own teaching.
When I was at secondary school I studied French at GCSE level and gained a C grade, but, I was unaware of the importance and impact languages can have on life. Also I had a dismissive teacher and therefore found motivation for this subject hard to come by. I was always taught using my native tongue and I feel this is a reason that the learning process didn’t happen as rapidly for me.
Since beginning to travel back in 2006 I have become very interested in cultural differences and language around the world. I have studied Spanish up until a B1 level and am continuing to do so when I can. The teaching approach used in my Spanish classes involved none of my classmates native languages being spoken by the teacher. This approach worked so well for me that after 10 weeks and to this day I feel very confident in intermediate conversational and written Spanish.
After this my interest in language was very much boosted and and I gained many Spanish native friends. This is where my interest in teaching came from, my realisation that language connects people in so many ways. Ultimately this is what has led me to pursue a career in teaching English as a foreign language.
In my previous career as an electrical engineer I have had some teaching experience but in very different scenarios. Not classroom teaching. I have had apprentices work under me and guided them through their apprentiships using my knowledge and experience of the work. When doing this I have experienced different types of learners, from fast and motivated learners to those who need more of a push in the right direction and some extra motivation to learn. I always tried to make the learning more interesting and personal to these learners. I will be using this method in my English teaching.
In every classroom it is important to realise that each student is different, they can vary in their levels, motivation, target language and reasons for learning. For example age can be a big factor in both reasons for learning and motivation. In a class of young learners (teens or lower) some will really want to learn where as others will feel they are there because they have to be, whether it’s due to parents sending them or other factors like planning to move to an English speaking country. In situations and classes like these I would try to have lessons planned so as to interest all the students and find some common ground, making lessons more fun and interactive, potentially using students with more motivation and interest to in turn teach the students that don’t have so much interest.
From experience I have found other students (18+) to be a lot more focused and motivated to learn with a general interest in classes and an attitude which allows the classes to flow and progress. Students like these tend to have reason to want to learn or an overall interest in the English language. For students like this target language can be very important to them, depending on whether they want English for a specific purpose (maybe a type of work) or they want to speak authentic English, learning phrasal verbs, accents, and how to use the language as a native would.
Classes of young children are a slightly more difficult classes to decide on how to teach. My method will be a lot more focused on class activities. Having a class of young children sit at their desks and repeat grammar and vocabulary with you simply isn’t going to keep their attention. With these classes I will have activities involving the entire class standing or acting out actions for learning, also using music, songs, and interactive games. This will keep the children interested in the class. For a large class of children I feel if you can get more than half of them up, involved, attentive and enjoying the activities it will be a lot more likely that the rest of the class will follow suit.
When it comes to discipline I hope (as any teacher would) not to have to use it. I will use a lot of positive reinforcement in class. If and when a student, younger or older, is not paying attention or being disruptive, rather than discipline I will focus on those students and be sure not to leave them to fall behind. I feel it is very important not to neglect students and if my class structure isn’t working for everyone in that class I will do what I can to change it, being sure to include everyone’s learning styles and allowing the class to continue in a positive learning direction .
My classes will consist of a few parts. Firstly I will start off with some quick questions with the students, obviously varying depending on the level of the class.
Questions similar to (but varying in difficulty) ‘Is it important to eat healthy’ expecting answers like yes it is’ or ‘ yes it is important to eat healthy because...’
I won’t consider there to be a wrong or right answer to these questions I simply want the structure to be understood and used. This will start the class flowing.
I will then teach up to 4 activities, focusing on specific target language and learning new grammar through conversation. These activities will include pictures and videos. These activities will have specific themes for example health/sport/family and many more can be the focus with these activities.
With pictures I would for instance show them 10 pictures of things and ask them what they are and to use them in a sentence relating to the grammatical structure we are learning like past perfect, future conditional, present tense etc.
I would also use videos or articles and have the students discuss between themselves what they think. This way they interact and learn with one another and my input can be kept to a minimum, mainly there to help with any issues they come across themselves or I may notice during the activity.
Before the end of the lesson I will always try and involve a game, such as room 101, word association or guess who/what. Again this will allow the students to interact with one another and have some fun. This means the last activity in the lesson involves less stress and the students can leave feeling that the learning experience has been more enjoyable than mindless drilled learning.
Finally I will always have a wrap up at the end of the lesson, going back to new vocabulary or things I have picked up on that the class or individuals are not quite grasping, but mainly just to test them in the least stressful way on what they have learnt during the lesson. I feel this is better than using exams or other more intense forms of testing because it is brief and doesn’t put the students under too much pressure.
I will not give my students homework, but they will have the class material should they choose to revise in their own time. I don’t want my students to feel over worked or stressed as this can lead to a negative classroom atmosphere and a general negative idea of learning. My teaching and their learning from it will be purely classroom based.
In conclusion I will be teaching classes solely in English not using any of their native language in a fun and interactive atmosphere with as much student talking time if not more than teacher talking time. Learners can learn together and my classes will leave them feeling confident and ready to learn more.