Teach English in ZhAngjiAwei Zhen - Suqian Shi

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When teaching English it is important to have structure in the lesson. So which methodology do we use? There are many useful techniques out there, but in my opinion the Engage, Study and Activate (ESA) methodology is the most effective. Jeremy Harmer first proposed this method in his book “How to teach English”. The ESA method gives flexibility to conduct a classroom in an organised and productive way. For the ESA method to be effective all three elements need to be present to provide a balanced range of activities for the students. So let's look at each phase/element of the lesson to see how they are implemented. First we begin the lesson with the engage phase. This phase is where we get the learners interested and set the context for the lesson. We want to arouse the students' interest, get them thinking and speaking in English. We want to increase the student talk time which will lead to more student discovery. It’s good to start with a warm up exercise like games such as I-spy, fizz buzz or showing a video or pictures to create conversation. For example you could show a brief video of animals and then ask the students to say what animals they like or dislike and then elicit more animal names from them. You could also discuss what pets they have. Therefore the focus on this phase is about building engagement. The next phase is the study phase. This is where we focus on the language point for the lesson and how it’s constructed i.e. how it looks and sounds and how to produce it correctly. This phase is in two parts, the first part is the teaching component where we elicit as much information as we can from the students re the teaching point and putting this information on the board. We then use drilling exercises to ensure the correct pronunciation. The second part of the study phase is to check the students' understanding of the language point and to reinforce the material you are teaching. This can be in the form of word searches, gap fills, word matching exercises and analysis. An example of the study phase (carrying on with the animal theme as used above in the engage phase), elicit what each of those animals can and can’t do – i.e. run, jump, fly etc. The students can then make sentences saying what each animal can or can’t do. To then check their understanding they can complete a gap-fill and matching worksheet. So the focus on this phase is accuracy of the target language. Finally we have the activate phase. This phase concentrates on activities that promote communication and puts everything they have learnt and know into practice. Therefore we want to encourage the use of any or all of the language they know. We need to focus on using the language freely and communicatively without any restrictions on language usage. Some ideas for this phase are role plays i.e. acting out as realistically as possible, debating, story writing, surveys and questionnaires. So carrying on with the example using the animal theme from the first two phases, the students could create a “super animal”. They can then make sentences about what their animal can and can’t do and then present it to the class. So the focus on this phase is communication and fluency over accuracy. It is easy to see from the above why the ESA methodology is so popular, as it is so easy to implement, effective and logical and therefore ideal for a new teacher like myself to utilise. When learning a second language students need as much exposure to the language as possible. There needs to be the right balance of teacher input, communicative tasks and encouragement for the students to discover language for themselves. The ESA methodology is a great way of keeping students interested, motivated and eager to learn more.