The Teacher as a Role Model: Inspiring Minds Know and Show
As a native english speaker I don't remember how I learned to speak english except for the vague memory of short "readers" involving Jack and Jane and them throwing a ball back and forth to each other and to a dog named Spot. Grammar was imposed upon me through these stories and somehow I was able to mimic the structure without really thinking about it. Therefore, my recent training has involved re-learning what was learned grammatically as well as reviewing methodolgies for teaching, which include but are not limited to: the Audio-Lingual Method, Total Physical Response, the Direct Method, the Silent Way and of course, the Oxbridge Model.
My course syllabus would not involve these Jack and Jane style readers but would rather evolve regarding the topic in relationship to what is importatnt and relevant to the student. Of course, with children and adults it is going to be a different approach but in both cases, it starts with the basic needs (greetings, getting to know each other, learning some vocabularies). In combination with these beginning topics, it matches well to use some physical exercises (getting kinesthetic to excersice the memory, like with the use of Total Physical Response), as well as the use of repetition involved in the Audio-Lingual and Direct Methods. However, my approach is not to be a drill seargant, I will employ parts of the Silent Way as I believe to give the space for self correction and contemplation is a necessary part of the process for the language to materialize inside an individual's own system. This being the main difference about adult learners, as they do have already a system from their native language in place. Since most of my teacher training has heavily involved the Oxbridge Model, I would of course heavily employ this technique as it goes very well with the natural evolution of learning and keeping material relevant to the student's growth.
I can only model what I think is great teaching by remembering the great teachers i have had; these were all bad ass people who had excellent attitudes, attention, precision, patience and presence. Even though they taught various subjects in various disciplines, what they did have in common was an unwavering passion about what they were teaching, which easily ignites the interest of a student. They were also able to apply a set of skills which could help you understand how to take these, pack it in a toolkit and take it home and still be able to use it outside the classroom. This approach is something I would like to model so that students are able to apply their skills to their everyday lives not just in the language laboratory. And as someone who has taken many, many hours of language courses myself, it is easy for me to consider the position someone learning a foreign language is in; I know the feeling of being anxious to express, feeling stuck, and unconfident. I think by modelling this passion and the other aforementioned aspects of outstanding role models, I will be able to easily build a rapport with my students simply because I care and will look for a way to engage you based on your individual styles and interests. Let us start by analyzing your motivation for learning. In other words, how can we make this interesting for you?
I think of language as a kind of currency. Its value is in the ability to communicate opinion, emotion, desire, originality, innovation, elucidation, and to represent the personality and character of ourselves. To know a language and to be able to understand and communicate with each other is a very rich experience indeed! The language is reflecting the culture, the culture is representing the people, the people are interpreting and re/writing what is said. My goal is to "put the money where your mouth is," which is an idomatic expression meaning to live up to one's own words and act according to your own advice. Or to do something rather than just talk about it. but in the case of learning languages, talking is the doing part of it! My main goal is to get you speaking as much as possible, getting comfortable with the fact that you will make mistakes and this is OK! That's what I am here for, to help you make corrections when necessary, and your job is to spend the time expressing and I get to help you figure out how you can express better. It's not unlike saving and spending paper currency: you save (grammar knowledge and vocabulary) and sell (speak and write).
Speaking of currency, when you travel somewhere or buy something online, you do have to convert your countries' currency to the one you are using the money in, isn't it so? This is not so dissimilar with what we do when we use languages; we adapt our known structures and convert or translate to be able to communicate over into the other. However, in order to exchange money, you dont have a lengthly conversation regarding why one mark is down and the other is higher or compare coins, you simply exchange the money and get going. This is why I find it very important to only speak in the target language, the new one in which you are trying to attain. Therefore, all videos, news clippings, quotes, and topics we would view, read and discuss would only be in english. If I have knowledge about hte native language the student/s are coming from, I don't mind to occassionaly compare, but for the most part, since the goal is to speak and understand in english, I think it makes sense to simply do so.
So what would a course look like? In the Oxbridge model, we always start by firing off a few quick questions to begin thinking and remembering in the language you are learning. These questions will be relevant to the level and the activities that follow will match. In a 60 Minute course, there will be between 4 and 7 activities of which, I promise to mix it up and keep it interesting. They will cycle through all hte macro skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking, but in variations that are hopefully fun as well as engaging. This can involve role playing, games, field trips, realia, authentic mateiral or anything that gets as close to a simulation of how and when you would actually use english. I don't believe in talking down to students and being the authority figure. I think the main role of the teacher is to be a medium for channeling the words and their structures and situations to be available for use at one's will. In fact, my ultimate goal is to find the function of the language so that using the language is relevant to one's life.
In the process of finding meaning, I am also a student, very open to what I will be able to learn from the situation as well. That means we get equal footing when it comes to producing: I bring the materials and we agree to take the journey together by searching for the uses and the situations and mining for the meaning as to why we bother. I respect the individul character of a single being and hope to bridge any difficulties in the conflict of community. This involves me having my own self-assessment regarding the use of my own language as well as observing and understanding the learning styles of each student. I will be as punctual and prepared and precise as possible. And if you happen to be a more visually oriented learner, I will provide activities that cater to that need but I will also challenge by spending time outside of your comfort zone. In this respect, I become a facillitator and I help you make the moves in the game of learning a language.