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Teach English in Luohansi Zhongchuchang - Jingmen Shi
Although there are hundreds of methodologies for an online English teacher, I am going to be focusing on five techniques that are favorable among the young learners. The five techniques are: 1. Total Physical Response. 2. Introducing Items of Cultural and Personal Relevance. 3. Using Authentic Materials. 4. Displaying Visuals and Realia. 5. Remembering the Stages of Second Language Acquisition. When English teachers are teaching to young learners online, the students are grouped into two categories by their age range. For instance, Group 1 will range from 5 to 9 years old. Group 2 will range from 9 to 13 years of age. Young learners under the age of four are very early young learners and need to have a specific set of techniques when teaching English online. (Young Learner, Unit 2, Page 6) Total Physical Response, also known as TPR, is a language acquisition method that was developed by James Ashner, a psychology professor. Why use TPR? TPR is used as a combination of physical actions and language to have the students be engaged in the language learning process. Total Physical Response is a low stress technique. An example of using TPR is for a teacher to use specific instructions or commands, such as “listen” or “repeat.” It is vitally important that a teacher use clear visuals with their physical actions when introducing the concept. A physical demonstration with the corresponding action is key when beginning to teach students. For example, when asking students to “listen,” a teacher can put their hand next to their ear in order to demonstrate that the student needs to listen. Another example would for “repeat” would be for a teacher to place their hand by their mouth and gesture a symbol to talk while saying the word “repeat.” Using TPR consistently will deepen the understanding of the meaning and provide familiarity with the language. (5 Esl Methods by Hostetler) TPR is effective whether teaching in a classroom or online setting. As human beings we feel, for the most part, most comfortable at home. At least I do! At home there are familiar things and familiar family members and a familiar pet. When we, as people, are in a natural familiar setting, we have the feelings of being secure and relaxed. Teachers can create a welcoming and familiar classroom. A teacher’s classroom should reflect the background and interests of each culture represented among the students. (5 ESL Methods by Hostetler) For teaching in an online setting, it is imperative that the background be neat in appearance and not have clutter in the background. It is preferred for a teacher teaching English online to create a background like a classroom background which could have things such as maps and posters and relevant materials to the lesson being taught. Authentic materials are defined as “materials that have been produced for a real purpose and not for the classroom.” (Young Learner, Unit 2, Page 6) Examples of authentic materials that an English online teacher can utilize are menus and simple recipes and present them to the more advanced young learner and incorporate them into a lesson with food vocabulary. Young learners love visual aids as it is engaging and it is a real thing to touch, see, feel and sometimes smell. “Visuals and realia are one of the most effective ways to provide a relatable reference for our students.” (5 ESL Methods by Hostetler) Visuals and realia can include photos of people or animals, simple kids’ menu, weather report, maps, family tree, figurines, educational toys, and advertisement. (7 Simple Visual Aids by Ryan) Once again, all these visual aids can be used in both a classroom and online setting. The last technique is to remember the stages of second language acquisition. There are five stages and they are: 1. Silent or Receptive Stage. 2. Early Production. 3. Speech Emergence. 4. Intermediate Fluency. 5. Advanced Fluency. (5 ESL Methods by Hostetler) In the first silent stage, students may be silent or use communication that is non-verbal such as pointing or nodding their head. A teacher’s focus is to build their confidence so that a student can speak and learn basic vocabulary. In the early production phase, students are communicating in one or two-word responses or they can start to say short phrases and learn upwards of 1,000 words. A teacher can see their confidence growing although a student may not have fluency yet. In speech emergence, this is the phase where a student’s communication begins. Their sentences and phrases will increase in length and be more difficult in complex. At this stage, their grammar can be limited. A teacher’s goal in this phase is to have the student gain in comprehension and for the student to be reading and writing in English. In the next stage of Intermediate Fluency, students will commence actively thinking in L2 (second language) in this stage. A student’s comprehension and fluency will greatly increase at this level. The final phase is advanced fluency. During this stage, a student has a full mastery of the language. The range that a student learns English can take from 2 to 10 years. Once this stage has been reached, a student is widely encouraged to keep challenging him/herself in the language to keep up the advanced fluency throughout life. (5 ESL Methods by Hostetler) When an English teacher is teaching a young learner online, it’s important to remember the five stages as every student will take a different journey during these stages. The goal of the teacher is to keep the student motivated and engaged and to have the student continue learning English through a variety of lessons even when the going gets tough and for the student to know that they have guidance throughout their English language learning journey no matter what stage they are in.