Teach English in Wenfushi Zhen - Yongzhou Shi

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For the last two years, I have been working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at a Japanese high school. Along with my teaching job, I have volunteered at a weekly English conversation class, where I teach English to both children and adults. Within the next year, I plan to transition out of my ALT job and into private ESL teaching. It is most likely that I will do the majority of my teaching online, where I will be one-on-one with a student. In this case, when looking at my experience with teaching English to various ages and studying for my TEFL certificate, what methodologies and techniques that I’ve learned can I best utilize as I transition into this new teaching environment? First, because I will be teaching one-on-one lessons rather than to an entire classroom like I’ve been doing until now, there are methodologies that would be difficult to incorporate. Namely, Communicative Language Learning, The Silent Way, and The Lexical Approach. Communicative Language Learning is where the teacher stands outside of a circle of students and observes them as they speak freely. The Silent Way is similar in that the teacher says as little as possible as the students “discover” the language. Finally, The Lexical Approach ignores grammar structure in favor of vocabulary and phrases as the student’s building blocks for learning the language. While this last option may be good when using a language app like Duolingo, it may lead to issues with an online class due to its close proximity to Audio – lingualism, in that it would require repetition drilling which, in my experience with my classes, is not something to spend too much time on when there’s only 45 minutes on the clock. Going back to the first two methodologies mentioned - Communicative Language Learning and The Silent Way - two methods that would require other students to lead the class; because online courses would consist of the teacher and a single student, theses methods would not be beneficial to an online course. In an online course, the teacher must lead and there must be a foundation. From my experiences as an ALT with little to no background in education, I have quickly found that having an organized procedure is the best foundation for teaching. Before I began my TEFL courses, I had hand-me-down lesson plans from former ALTs and then used them to write out everything I would do and say, as well as the material that needed to be used. This worked splendidly when I taught fewer than 15 people at a time, but I found that as I covered more technical grammar points and was put into larger classrooms that I needed to have more than a general idea of what I needed to do. From the template lesson plans, I learned that a class procedure almost always includes an introduction, a practice time, and an implementation time; I now know that this methodology is called Presentation, Practice and Production, or PPP. This method of teaching is where teachers present the language point, the students then practice the point in a controlled study phase, and then are given an opportunity to implement their new skills in a creative way. It has become the backbone of my current classes and since I am used to this methodology, I would like to use PPP in my future online classes. But would it be wise to implement this method standardly to a one-on-one online English lesson? Due to its lack of flexibility, its impotency with higher language levels, and the fact that it’s centered more on the teacher, maybe not. Flexibility is important when working one-on-one with a student since the teacher can and should adjust the lesson to the student’s language level and comprehension of new subjects. When using PPP with larger classes, these adjustments aren’t entirely possible. However, when combined with other methodologies, PPP may still be transferred to an online platform that focuses on one-on-one lessons. For example, creating a lesson plan that incorporates Communicative Language Teaching. Communicative Language Teaching, or CLT, is a way of teaching that is regularly used in English Conversation settings due to its reliance on language functions as opposed to grammar. It is a popular method that utilizes role-playing and completing tasks, which is also used in the Task-Based Learning method. Both methods are useful when wanting to make the class environment more comfortable for students, which is a situation I highly value; as a language student myself, I must be relaxed and be allowed to make mistakes because I am unable able to learn otherwise. Another method that largely focuses on this is Suggestopaedia, where the teacher-student dynamic becomes more familial. These methodologies are important for teaching language and I’ve seen the lack of comfort in my work at the high school. For example, it’s common for Japanese students to refrain from speaking in class - even when called on - due to the fear of making a mistake and being singled out in the class. Part of this is due to cultural differences, but also a lack of a comfortable environment when learning English. These students do not feel relaxed in their classrooms and their retainment of the language suffers because they aren’t able to properly improve their productive skills. Students being comfortable in a classroom setting is important, and it will be more significant going into an online setting. In conclusion, the following methods would be best utilized for transitioning to an online teaching platform: Task-Based Learning, Suggestopaedia, and Presentation, Practice and Production, in combination with Communicative Language Teaching. Each methodology has its own benefits to teaching English and are the strongest candidates for creating online classes with a single student. The Communicative Language Learning, The Silent Way, Audio – lingualism, and The Lexical Approach would be the least effective methods because of their reliance on other students and repetition drills, two methods that would not translate well to an online setting.