Comparative Teaching Methodologies For the inexperienced teacher of TEFL,


For the inexperienced teacher of TEFL, the question of what to teach presents a very scalable hurdle. There is the matter of dividing the material into different lessons, gauging the students' levels and progress, and making sure what is being taught is relevant and technically accurate. However, for the native speaker who can always fall back on their own intuitive knowledge, these are not real problems.

The true challenge, then, comes when a new teacher must determine how to teach their classes.

There are a multitude of different TEFL-teaching methods for a teacher to choose from. Though most of these will ultimately be left by the wayside, it is important to gain an understanding of each before the teacher decides which is right for them.

The first teaching method listed by almost any source is the Grammar- Translation Method. The roots of this technique are deep.

For centuries the teaching of Greek and Latin were essential parts of Western Education. As described by the resource Language Link, the Grammar-Translation Method is the modern equivalent of that 'Classical Method' that was so successful for so long. So what is it' ITTT's description of the method in Unit 3 refers to it as, 'in effect, a method of translation.' The Grammar-Translation Method focuses of grammatical structures, vocabulary, and textual accuracy. Literature is a big part of this method, as it was/is to students of Latin and Greek. Almost zero attention is paid to pronunciation and everyday use of English.

The first branch to sprout from the Grammar-Translation tree was the Direct Method. This technique emerged around the early 1800s when teachers started experimenting with more verbal, functional approaches to teaching. With the Direct Approach, the native tongue is (ideally) never used in class. The focus is on dialogue and conversation. San Diego State's Jill Mora explains that 'Grammar is taught inductively--rules are generalized from the practice and experience with the target language.' There is very little to no translation.

These days, the Direct Method has grown into the Audio- Lingual Method. Language Link puts the beginnings of this method around WWII, when increased globalization forced people to learn quick and usable English. Audio-Lingualism is based off of Behaviorist theories of learning that focus on habit-forming techniques. Here, little formal material is taught is and the students learn by speaking, listening, and learning from context.

If the A-L Method comes from the Direct, the Reading Approach comes from Grammar-Translation. This method is simple and straightforward' it is geared solely towards reading and reading comprehension. This is designed for those who do not plan to immerse themselves but only want to learn to read English.

In my research, ITTT was the sole exponent of this methodology, but in truth it is an extremely important technique. Presentation, Practice, and Production (PPP) is a three-stage system that tries to combine the best of all TEFL worlds. This method is best for lower levels because it fully addresses a certain topic or set of materials.

Community Language Learning (CLL) is a different kind of language instruction. According to Mora, 'it is patterned upon counseling techniques.' CLL asks students to form into a circle and is based off of student control and student discussion. The teacher remains outside the circle and acts as language counselor while the students asks questions of each other in their native tongue, which they then translate into English.

The Silent Method is similar to CLL because it calls for the teacher to minimize their role. This, however, take sit to an extreme. The teacher is to almost entirely remain silent while the students undertake 'Discover Learning' through problem-solving activities that force them to, in effect, self-teach themselves English. This method tends to be rare in TEFL classrooms.

Communicative Language Teaching, or CLT, focuses on teaching students how to use English in the real world. As Language Link describes, 'Teaching students how to use the language is considered to be at least as important as learning the language itself.' With this method, which can seem generic at times, the focus is on using the English and the different situations it will be required in.

Next, another oft- mentioned approach is Total Physical Response, or TPR. This technique pairs learning with physical motor activity. The theory is that such 'total' learning processes will help the students to better recall the language learned. Mora explains that the concept holds that the 'combination of skills allows the student to assimilate information and skills at a rapid rate.'

The final major method is the Suggestopaedia Method. This approach centers itself around the comfort of the student'believing that the relaxed student will absorb more information. Here, teachers and students develop parent-child relationships (e.g. they get new names), and a three-stage lesson delivers and reviews material in a structured (but relaxed) manner.

Of course, the list of different methodologies does not stop here. Other techniques include the Natural Approach and Lexical Approach, to name a few. All these different approaches are important to know before deciding which works best for you. There are a number of variables (class size, skill-level, attitude) that will help determine the right path, as well as a number of different paths and combinations of approaches. Ultimately, each teacher must find which they are most comfortable with and which they feel works the best. Teaching is itself forever a learning process.



Sources ITTT TEFL 20-Unit Course. Unit Three: Methodology, Mistakes, and Feedback.

'Comparative Teaching Methodologies.' Language Link. http://www.jobs.languagelink.ru/TEFL/methodologies.php

Mora, Jill Kerper. 'Second-Language Teaching Methods.' San Diego State University. http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/ALMMethods.htm#Functional