Published 15th November 2017
We all know that there’s no one right way to teach a lesson. Take a look into fifty classrooms learning the second conditional and you’re bound to see fifty teachers doing fifty different things. Even though English as a Foreign Language teachers all undergo the same (or at least similar) teacher training, there are loads of different teaching methods, which means there are a range of ways we can go about accomplishing the same thing.
Let’s look at three teaching methods you may or may not be familiar with and find out how we can utilize their main teaching principles in our lessons.
The Audio-lingual Approach
This method does exactly what it says on the tin. The teacher models the language so the students can hear it and they then copy the teacher repeatedly until they have incorporated the language into their production. Well, that’s the theory behind it anyway.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that simply repeating language will result in learning the language, especially with more complex linguistic structures, but there is something to be said for drilling. Drilling can be incorporated into most lessons and can be a useful tool (if it’s not abused!) to ensure correct pronunciation.
The Natural Approach
In the Natural Approach, students are exposed to lots of comprehensible input. They are given lots of listening texts and the teacher will emphasise certain language items in a relaxed manner. The students are under no pressure to produce language but communication will be encouraged, while there is no specific focus on language, pronunciation or error correction.
What we can take away from this method is the focus on communication. It’s not always vital to focus on grammar. Sometimes we can just provide our students with authentic language and guide them towards a learning situation where they can replicate the language in a fun activity.
This method utilizes tasks to encourage the students to use certain language. The teacher sets up a task for the students to do in groups and lets the students get on with it. The accomplishment of the task will mean that the students are able to use the target language effectively.
Here we are reminded that language learning need not only be dealt with in a linguistic context. Though there is a place for grammar exercises and language discussions, there is also the argument for Content and Language Integrated Learning. If you are careful, you’ll be able to find tasks which can be manipulated to achieve the linguistic outcome you were hoping for.
As we said before, there are many different teaching methods floating in the EFL universe. Take ‘em or leave ‘em, don’t dismiss them outright before carefully considering whether or not they may be some element of good sense in them that you can incorporate into your teaching.