Teach English in Shenliu Zhen - Changde Shi

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Introduction Throughout history, a number of different teaching approaches and methodologies have been tried and tested with some being more popular and effective than others. There are various teaching methods and techniques that are employed to help students learn new language and this critique explains the advantages/disadvantages and effectiveness of some of the more important approaches. Grammar Translation The first technique (dominantly used ‘up to the 1960s’) (Lier and Lier, 2001) is the Grammar Translation (or Classical) method based on the translation of words/passages from the ‘students native language’ as ‘the medium of instruction’ (Richards & Rodgers, 2001) into the target language as a direct comparison. It is one of the oldest forms of Second-language acquisition. Students are explained the rules, syntax and etymology in a more linguistic way than communicative with a focus on literary texts grammar rules. The major advantage to this method is that the student will understand the exact meaning of words translated into their native language, grammar is learnt easily due to direct comparison between languages. However it requires the teacher to be skilled in both languages in order to communicate meanings/words and it is not always possible to directly translate especially if the native language structure is different. This approach could be ‘considered detrimental as it does not allow the achievement of fluency and foster communicative language use’ (Newson, 1998) so the language being learnt may not be understood and spoken correctly. The Audio-Lingualism Method The Audio Lingual Method (or Army Method) was derived from wartime need, in order for personnel to achieve skill in foreign languages and is based on a theory that learning new language is more successful via constant reinforcement and conditioning so that it becomes habit. This method concentrates on repetitive, inflective and replacement drilling (including others forms) as the ‘primary objective is to attain oral proficiency’ (Mai, 2018). This method helps the students learn and develop listening and speaking skills efficiently. New language is first heard and extensively drilled before being seen in its written form. Visual aids help in the enrichment of vocabulary. This method is convenient to teach large groups of students. Correct pronunciation and structures are learnt easily. Despite the advantages to this method, it does not help in increasing communication aptitude. The students’ exposure to range of language remains quite restricted. This method does not encourage students to reflect on word meanings. Reading and writing skills can become neglected and the main focus is on the teacher rather than the students. (Bygate, 2001). The Structural Approach As the name suggests, the method is all about structure. The theory is that any language is made up of complex grammar rules. According to this approach, these rules need to be learnt in a particular sequence. The focus is teaching students to recognise word arrangement to form patterns and learn certain structures and therefore help the students to use the language more efficiently (Menon and Patel, 1971). This method stresses oral-aural learning, giving the students opportunities to hear and speak the language. The downside is each structure needs to be selected carefully and suitably graded for the correct age range/experience level which requires significant teacher input in lesson planning (Kagan, 1989). These are the main teaching methods but there are also other types known as holistic/humanistic approaches to teaching: Suggestopedia Developed in the 1970s by Lozanov, this method relies on positive thinking and allaying students’ fears about not being able to understand or learn something. It was theorised that by being positive, students retain up to 3 to 5 times more information compared to other teaching approaches. This requires students to be relaxed and confident in their capabilities (Lozanov, 1978). Total Physical Response (TPR) Total Physical Response is an approach that follows the idea of learning through action. Aural understanding is the most important skill in this method. Students learn through a sequence of repetitive actions such as in English “Stand up”, “Fold your arms” and “Sit Down.” This is meant to be interactive, fun and motivate students to pay attention and therefore retain more understanding of the lesson (Asher, 1969). The Silent Way As the name suggests, the point of this method is to allow the students (not the teacher) to be responsible for their own learning and the teacher says as little as required. The idea is to let students learn and unlock the language for themselves. Thereby learning would be expedited and pronunciation improved. This technique makes use of ‘Coloured Cuisenaire Rods’ with each colour representing a characteristic of the language such as an intonation or grammar point using phonemic charts as a reference. Unfortunately teachers find the method unnatural compared to normal teaching practices (Yüksel and Caner, 2014). Task Based Language Learning The main objective of this approach is task completion. Students are expected to build on their established understanding of English to complete the task set by the teacher to the best of their ability. A good teacher will set interesting and topic appropriate tasks to engage students (Kafipour, Mahmoudi and Khojasteh, 2018). The Lexical Approach This methodology focuses less on grammatical structure and more on the grammar of specific words/phrases or ‘chunks’ for language attainment. ‘The Lexical Approach implies a decreased role for sentence grammar, at least until post-intermediate levels. In contrast, it involves an increased role for word grammar (collocation and cognates) and text grammar’ (Lewis, 1993). Students learn the most common words and their uses and then identify which words are linked and so build on their current knowledge of language. Conclusion All these methods have their uses and place in the classroom when teaching new languages. There are many different ways to teach language and these different approaches have come from varied needs over the years for a focus on a specific part of language be that pronunciation, punctuation, vocabulary, grammatical structure or other parts. Each methodology has been created to further develop student learning with each having their own advantages/disadvantages. Most of these techniques are still used in some form today and have evolved into the modern system of EFL teaching known as Engage, Study, and Activate (ESA). References Lier, L.V. and Lier, L.V. (2001). Language awareness. In R. Carter & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages. Richards, J. C. and Rodgers, T. S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Newson, D. (1998). Translation and Foreign Language Learning. In K. Malmkjær (ed.), Translation and Language Teaching: Language Teaching and Translation, Manchester, St. Jerome Publishing. Mei, Y. (2018). Comments on the Audiolingual Method. International Journal of Arts and Commerce. 7(4), pp. 47-53. Bygate, M. (2001). Speaking. In R. Carter & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages. Menon, T. K. N., and Patel, M. S. (1971). The teaching of English as a foreign language; structural approach. Baroda, Acharya Book Depot. Kagan, S. (1989). The structural approach to cooperative learning. Educational Leadership. 47(4). 12-15. Lozanov, G. (1978). Suggestology and suggetopedy. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2006 from http://lozanov.hit.bg/ Asher, J. J. (1969). The total physical response approach in second language learning. The Modern Language Journal, Volume LIII, No. 1, January, 4 - 18. Yüksel, I. and Caner, M. (2014). The Silent Way. Kafipour, R., Mahmoudi, E., and Khojasteh, L. (2018). The effect of task-based language teaching on analytic writing in EFL classrooms. Cogent Education, 5(1), 1496627. https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2018.1496627 Lewis, M. (1993), The Lexical Approach: The State of ELT and a Way Forward. Language Teaching Publications.