It is in our nature that we want to learn a new skill, develop our knowledge, enrich ourselves of a new experience and find ways to expand our minds in order to become better humans. I believe that what we see around us is not the lack of our will to act or the time we do not have to spend on doing this activity; it is lack of our dedication and enthusiasm. The process of acquiring a new skill, whether it is playing a new musical instrument or learning a new language, is usually long and I have noticed that people simply do not devote their time to doing the activity, unless they see their quick improvement or an opportunity to apply their new skill in their real life as soon as possible. They need to feel immediate benefit from the content they are learning. If they start learning a new language, they aim to speak from day one. In order for students to keep their motivation, it is crucial that teachers create the environment and use the techniques that support and keep students persistent. From my learning and teaching experience I understand that THINKING in a foreign language is an important goal that brings students one big step closer to becoming fluent, therefore I have invented the method of MASTERING ENGLISH.
This method is ideal for intermediate and advanced levels, but unfortunately, I do not think that it is suitable for young children or beginners as I do not feel they would benefit from this teaching method very much. My students have at least basic level of written and spoken English before joining the class, seeking to take their knowledge of English further by mastering particular topics, discovering new, specific fields or simply just improving their communication skills. Students with no English basics wanting to learn ONLY business English or ONLY English related to their profession will simply not benefit from this method, because at the end of a day even in the business trade it is GENERAL COMMUNICATION that lubricates personal relationships and advances people in their career. A colleague will usually go the extra mile for a friend or someone they have built a connection with…
The new method focuses on vocabulary, drilling and mainly practical use of the direct method, however the huge difference here makes addressing grammar issues. I base my teaching method on what I call the fifth macro skill of learning a language, THINKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. MASTERING ENGLISH method is designed to explore different areas of our daily lives, teaching students to communicate about diverse topics, however, the student already must possess a good level of English in order to be able to learn more complex vocabulary and more difficult structures. The language used during the lessons is solemnly English, as the goal here is for students to be surrounded by English as much as possible to the extent that it becomes inconvenient to think in their native language. With MASTERING ENGLISH method students practice all 4+1 core skills, as all of them are essential to learning English. The method is divided into two 1 ½ hour sessions every week; the first session is dedicated to use and work with students´ receptive skills, listening and reading; and the second session of the week is based on mastering students´ productive skills, speaking and writing. In general, the method mainly focuses on understanding the context and correct pronunciation of target language in the first session, and new vocabulary and grammar use during the second session. The TTT will be therefore increased when the students train their receptive skills and decreased when the students practice their speaking and writing. ´´Fifth macro skill´´, thinking in a foreign language, will be incorporated into all sessions. This is inevitable because it is related to students´ ability to start using the skill automatically without realizing it, thanks to different cleverly-designed activities. Classes will be held either in the student´s home or a workplace. During the classes mainly the authentic language is being used, as the progress of students is usually greater than when using the graded language. The aim here is for students to get used to the ´´real´´ English and the natural rhythm of it. (With some exceptions, for example when teaching the cognates when exaggeration is used.) Method of MASTERING ENGLISH is applying a cognitive approach. Students learn by observing how the English language is being used in practice and they actively participate in order to learn quickly.
It is important to know the students´ learning patterns and abilities and for that reason, the classes will run with a maximum of three students at the same time. The VAK method will be applied in this teaching style, which is why making animated videos and presentations has recently become so popular in teaching effectively. The videos hit the audio and visual, and when the student creates one themselves, it hits the kinesthetic type, too. As we will be teaching students with higher level of English, in order to perfect their skills, their mistakes will be corrected straight away; since by this time they will already have had knowledge and understanding of English, therefore by doing this I do not feel we will stand in a way of building the flow of the language.
I have chosen a notional/functional syllabus as the students will learn how to use the target language to express their own ideas, emotions, and opinions. I believe, that the fact that students will be able to express themselves the way they truly feel, not the way ´´they learn at school´´, will promote their learning and desire to continue with exploring new English fields. Topics will be based on students´ interests and needs. Main objectives will be therefore targeting language (also slang), structures, understanding the concept and being able to express own idea on particular issues. Students will gain the ability to react to different situations. The syllabus will be designed to meet the needs of the students who wish to communicate (orally and writing) and THINK in English. It will cover a variety of topics from daily life-related issues through general knowledge of the social customs and attitudes of the global world of work to more personal areas. In addition to topics and vocabulary, it will raise awareness of relevant areas of grammar and English structure.
THINKING in English is the base of the MASTERING ENGLISH method. Here it comes to using students´ prior knowledge and experience as lessons will always offer numerous activities on real-life situations and events including, but not restricted to: Reading news in English and discussing current issues of the day targeting the new vocabulary; translating news from native language into English; choosing the daily English motto of the student and form discussion around it; discussing challenges people may encounter and explore various ideas to resolve the issue - presentations of the solutions; watching videos on particular hobbies of students and sport activities and learn the use of English expressions; listening to podcasts and watching video news online, discussing the topic, perfect the pronunciation and use of new phrases, focus on interesting and new words; reading parts of the favourite book or a story (in English) and expressing feelings about the story, reflecting on key areas such as genre, plot, theme, setting, characters and critical events; reading short fables pronouncing words correctly and talking about their meaning and lessons learned etc. There is a great use of realia during the lessons and the main advantage is to make the learning experience more memorable for students. (Internet, computer)
The method also consists of many practical examples as the best way to improve English comprehension is to introduce role-play activities such as visiting a supermarket, in a taxi, city tour, at the café/cinema/pharmacy/hotel/airport/doctor etc. All these are great examples of a contextualized learning environment. Controlled practice will be a stage in a lesson focused on productive skills where learners produce language using the target content freely. This will be combined with drilling to a certain extent.
At the end of each lesson, there is a ´´SUM UP´´ so the students leave with a general overview of what they did during their English lesson. I have decided not to grade or test my students formally, however, I will carry out informal tests after the second session of the week in order to do another sum up of the topic and the structure and to ensure that students understand that week´s issue. Students will write tests and they will get a list of correct answers afterward so they can reflect on how they did, in other words, the students will correct themselves. The teacher will be present to answer any issues that may be still unclear, however, will not be judging the results in any way otherwise students can get demotivated. I will also carry an anonymous feedback after each lesson in order to find out what the students think of the efficiency of teacher´s class.
Outside world is like invisible university; students will not be given homework but will be strongly encouraged to surround themselves with English language outside of the lesson by reading wall posters and billboards on the streets on their way from work/school, noticing headlines in window displays, doing daily activities in English, setting their phone in English, using explanatory dictionary rather than the classic one or putting sticky notes on their objects at home as when learning English, it is often better to visualize than trying to translate from the native language.
EXAMPLE of receptive lesson
EXAMPLE of productive lesson
´´If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.´´ (Nelson Mandela)