My Teaching Approach
Despite being only the third most spoken language in the World, the advantages of being able to speak English in the 21st Century are inarguable. English is the language of the uncontested superpower of the Globe, the United States of America, making the ability to speak English a vital requirement for those who wish to succeed or advance on an international scale. From the aspiring Wolves of Wall Street to the hopeful intergalactic researchers of NASA, the USA still leads the way in terms of economic and academic prowess. Regardless of the motivation of the prospective student to learn English, whether it be to advance themselves in their academic field, enhance their employability or simply to reap the benefits that being able to communicate with people from other cultures, one thing remains consistent, a student is only as good as their teacher. With this in mind, it is essential to tailor the teaching methodology and syllabus in order to adequately address the needs of the student so that they may eventually one day become the master. My approach, known as the Ogma Approach, makes the needs of the students central to its methodology and syllabus in order to give them the most appropriate and functional English education. The Ogma Approach, is named in honour of the Celtic God of speech and language who, according to legend, revolutionised language in Britain and Ireland with the creation of the Ogham alphabet which enabled people to communicate their ideas through written word. To illustrate the use of the Ogma Approach, I will use the self-created EAP (English for Academic Purposes) of English for Psychologists.
The Ogma Approach and English for Psychologists
Since the turn of the 20th Century the United States has become the leading force in the field of Psychology, making the knowledge of English for those training in the field paramount.
Syllabus for English for Psychologists
Psychology is an immensely broad field which is commonly broken down into 7 different perspectives; Behavioural, Psychoanalytic, Humanistic, Cognitive, Evolutionary, Biological and Sociocultural. For each perspective, the specific required terminology may vary however, all Psychologists will require language that allows them to express their opinions in a critical manner, be analytic and gives them the ability to speak to patients or clients, as well as give presentations.
As all qualified Psychologists will be adults, they will not be separated by age instead classes for Psychologists delivered using the Ogma approach will first be separated according to the student’s level of English. In these initial classes students will be taught the basic grammar and vocabulary for English which are useful Psychology. This will include, assessing patients or clients by being able to ask them how they are, understanding terminology associated with common disorders and being able to diagnose and advise patients based on their symptoms presented in accordance with the guidelines of the DSM- 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition).
For example students may be taught how to understand and say the following:
-“How are you feeling?”
-“When did your symptoms first appear?”
-“Do you have a family history of certain mental disorders?”
-“How frequent are your symptoms”
-“What is your daily routine?”
As students progress they will be taught how to critically analyse and discuss research findings according to APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines which can be used by the students when compiling articles for research journals or presentations.
-“In contrast to the findings of...”
-“Research has shown that...”
-“Similarly, it was found that...”
Once students have progressed from these lower levels, they will be broken into classes dependent on the Psychological perspective in which they specialise so that they can be shown and learn to use terminology essential to their area of expertise.
For example, students of the Cognitive perspective will learn terminology associated with using and understanding psychometric tests, such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, so they may be able administer them in English.
Methodology of the Ogma Approach
As Psychology is an academic field, it is essential that those who wish to further themselves in this area are able to use the four macro skills of language; reading, writing, listening and speaking. Therefore, each of these skills will be addressed through the Ogma Approach.
All of the language learned in each level of the English for Psychologists course will be presented visually using PowerPoint presentations and handouts will be provided for each student so that they can visually recognise the words and phrases they are learning, this will aid students in the development of their reading skills.
Drawing on the methodology of the audiolingual approach, phrases being taught by the teacher will initially be drilled with the students in order to ensure correct pronunciation of words. This will assist students in developing their listening skills. Once students have progressed to the levels in which they are divided according to their specialities, they will be presented one TED talk per week on a topic relevant to their field which will help students adjust to the many different accents in which English is spoken while also giving them an opportunity to hear and see how findings in their field are articulated in a seminar type setting. This will also further aid students in their listening skills.
The aim of this approach is to promote as much free conversation as possible, as this improves the confidence of the student to speak English and also gives the teacher the opportunity pinpoint and correct any pronunciation or grammatical errors. To ensure that this is possible, all classes will involve designated time for free conversation. This will be structured and promoted in the form of formal and informal debates regarding theories in Psychology or news relating to the field of Psychology. During this free conversation time, the teacher will monitor the language being used by the students in order to ensure correct pronunciation and grammatical structure. This, along with the use of drills will assist students in developing their speaking skills during the course.
Students will be assessed at the end of each month using self-created PowerPoint presentations. The creation of these PowerPoints will test the students’ ability to write in English, as well as giving them the opportunity to improve their speaking skills. At the end of their presentation, each of the other students present in the class will have to ask the student one question relating to their presentation. This makes it vital that all students listen carefully to what the other student is saying which will help their listening skills and the chance to ask a question will also allow them to practise their speaking skills.
In the Ogma method, the environment in which the students will be taught will be similar to that used in the Suggestopedia method in order to create a comfortable, positive environment for the students to learn. No desks will be in the room of an Ogma classroom. Students will instead sit on bean bags. These bean bags will be arranged in a semi-circle with the teacher sitting on a bean bag facing the students. This will make the students and teacher feel equal which will enhance the confidence of the students when it comes to speaking in English. The classroom used will be well lit and adequately ventilated to ensure the physical comfort of the students during the class. Classes will last no longer than one and a half hours so that students do not feel overwhelmed with the amount of information learned. Students’ achievements, small and large will always be acknowledged by the teacher through praise. Any mistakes will be constructively corrected as to not damage the confidence of the students when attempting to produce language. As research has shown that scents can influence an individual’s mood, sandalwood incense will be burned for the duration of each class, as it has been found that earthy scents, such as sandalwood, have a calming effect on the mood of an individual. This will help to combat nervous energy or anticipation felt by students when learning English, making the learning of English, a calm, positive experience for the student which may help to promote further interest in the language.
To conclude, my method incorporates techniques to develop and enhance the four macro skills of language so that students may feel thoroughly competent in their grasp of the language. The environment in which an Ogma class would take place is calm and inviting which will make English feel like a less daunting challenge for those who wish to learn it.