Personal Teaching Methodology
Having studied fine art; skills, words, actions and feelings are meaningless without a context. How could you comprehend Shakespear without first having experienced love, loss and the intrinsic pleasure and pain of life. Equally language gives us pins that we 'place' on a map that roots us to life; life that is enriched by not only ourselves and our own comprehension but by contact with other external systems.
Language can be taught in many ways, but the quality of language acquisition is dependant on the student's goals, needs, comprehension of external stimuli (Learning style) and innate nature. Therefore the methodology will change from student to student but the individuals core need to be able to understand and be understood in the foreign language stays the same.
As a student's age and ability change so do their needs. The needs, goals and therefore appropriate methodology used for a semi fluent trilingual adolescent will differ greatly from that of an elderly student who only speaks a single language. I have no issue with students': age or ability or even the basis behind an individual's desire to learn; but I firmly believe that once you start learning another language to truly succeed you must have a resolve rooted in the pleasure that comes from communicating in the target language.
There are times where learning on your own can be detrimental to confidence and motivation. It is a hard and perceivably too great a task to achieve on your own, so if a student enjoys the use of language then their inherent desire to speak it, to learn, to improve is always present and although it may falter it cannot be stripped from them.
For the lowest level speakers I believe that anyway I can get the ball rolling, and the cogs turning is needed if not crucial with regard to the individual 'weights placed' upon their affective factors. With a strong start 'inherent negatively-disposed' affective factors may be over ridden. If that means a vocabulary list, a cycle ride around a park or even drinking in a bar for the first few lessons then so be it. Starting a new language is hard, so anything that I can do to decrease the students 'self perceived' negative affective factors and increase their confidence at the beginning of their syllabus will be used. Once beginners understand simple personal pronouns, prepositions, relative pronouns/adverbs and demonstrative determiners, etc. moving onto expanding vocabulary (simple verbs, nouns and adjectives) is an easier task and all the language used can be graded L2 with visual aids, and if needed TL lists with translation can be provided dependant on the students learning style. Once a student has a basic but solid comprehension of English it is then possible to build upon it a language that is ever increasing in complexity.
The weights placed on individual student's affective factors will differ greatly. If motivation is holding a student back then having lots of achievable short term goals and the completion of those goals will increase the positive feedback received. The regular reaffirmation of these goals will increase the students own pleasure from language acquisition which forms a positive feedback loop solidifying motivation to learn. Furthermore as a teacher the more time spent trying to: truly understand and comprehend a students goals and/or reasons for taking classes and personal interests the more able you are to motivate them which is equally as important as the syllabus- without motivation to learn the syllabus is useless. The more you can root a students reasons for learning within their own interests the more the student will be motivated by themselves.
Age and opportunity are such diverse variables it is almost impossible to express the innumerable ways to counteract the potentially negative impacts it may have on a student so I only hope to be open minded and perceptive to their needs..
Environment and personality are intrinsically linked. A very shy student may not feel comfortable talking and/or making mistakes around people they don't feel comfortable with, equally an extrovert through encouragement may make an introvert more comfortable if they're friends. High levels of attention should be placed upon both. Both need delicate moderation and 'adjustment'. unfortunately once again every student will learn in different ways and their environment has the potential to both aid and harm them.
The goals of a student directly affect what skills need to be learnt. Someone who uses emails at work to talk to people in entirely different time zones may not care about correct pronunciation, but place their own importance upon reading, writing, pragmatism and semantics. If a students goal is to read and write with fluency and accuracy then I believe there are others that are better qualified to teach them.
After learning to 'hear' correctly, getting a student to a a level of fluency is for me the next key step. Once a student is fluent, the ability to converse naturally with others will help expand their vocabulary and compound existing knowledge through conversation and regular use. Once comfortable and with fluent conversation the importance of pronunciation should be emphasised whilst gaining oral accuracy.
The syllabus for each student and level will differ. First off using an easy 5 minute test the students learning style can be understood. Then by combining their learning style and goals will help define their basic syllabus. After a few classes their ability to learn, recall information and the time they put in outside of class will show how much content should be included in each class. The syllabus will be distributed over the appropriate period of time.
Whilst we progress through progress I hope to keep good lines of communication with the student to asses: how they feel the classes are going, if they want to change the direction of the course and most importantly what they are finding hard with regards to either the syllabus or the individual teaching style.
If a student just wants to learn English with out a direct teaching stricture or reason then I think a content based structure would be best as it is easier to learn the language structure- this is due to moving slowly from less to more complex language means that previous language is compounded as the course progresses.
More formal assessments can be given to be taken outside of the class if the student would like, but I do not think that a class should have any tests in them as it is not utilising the time fully to be sat in silence writing out answers.
I hope to keep classes fun and engaging. Due to environment being such an important affective factor I hope that all classes can be in an environment which the student finds themselves comfortable in- I also consider hydration a very important factor as studies have show that brain hydration is directly correlated to recall and 'absorption' of the lesson syllabus.
In conclusion although my methodology and teaching practice. Is constantly changing I would like to reiterate that is because it needs to. The process of learning a language is hard but with regular practice fluency and the pleasure that comes from it is not a great a challenge as one would think.
the only statement I would want to reiterate with regard to learning a language is It changes every thing, it changes the way we understand our L1 language it gives life to foreign lands, through furthering etymology it enhances pragmatic understanding of our own language, it bridges gaps that were once incomprehensible and foreign. Learning a language will change your life. The most basic expression in one language that may be untranslatable into another gives the 'fabric of life' a richer feel. What individuals want from language is different and in turn the best(most profitable) way to be taught is different as well- therefore my teaching methodology is ever changing. This is not only due to students personal needs varying but also the developing understanding of L2 language acquisition; so the only thing I would reiterate with regard to my teaching practice is that learning a language needs to be enjoyed, primarily because it cannot be done over night, but also because when you love a language then it becomes an ever changing and living expression of your life and you.