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  1. #1
    caminostro is offline Newbie
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    Default Please Review My Teaching Method

    Hi,

    I usually teach my classes in the following manner and I feel this method is terribly inadequate, especially with advanced students. Please review and comment on my method, and if possible make book and article reading recommendations, items you have personally found useful in your teaching. I don't care for theory. I need techniques. I'm really sceptical of language teaching theories.

    I teach at the college level. The students are expected to learn enough English to be able to read texts in their own fields. Usually, they pass three or four English courses at college, with the first two focused on general English, and the later courses focused on ESP with respect to their own fields of specialty.

    First, I read the text aloud for the students to listen for pronunciation, and explain the meaning of new words in Persian. Then ask students to read the text aloud one by one. Usually each student reads one paragraph and then I ask reading comprehension and vocabulary questions and they are expected to answer in English. Then we do exercises, I ask questions and give explanations as needed.

    I feel this method is terribly inadequate and boring. I want to add variety and interest to my work.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Ask yourself which bits you would like if you were the learner. I never liked reading aloud as a learner or teacher, so that part, where they read the same thing over and over could be changed to allow more chance for them to participate.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    One (rather over-simplified) method:

    1. Get the learners to read the passage to themselves. Then get them to work in small groups to come up with a sentence or two in English, saying what the passage is about. This will tell you if they have understood the passage in general terms. If their sentences show that they haven't got the general idea, then the passage was too difficult for them.

    [If the your idea is to teach the learners new vocabulary, then it is better to do this before you attempt a reading exercise.]

    2. Give them a list of questions to answer that will demonstrate more detailed comprehension. Give them the questions before they read the passage for a second time - you are checking comprehension, not memory.

    You may or may not wish them to work in groups on this.

    [Note: If you wish them to demonstrate understanding of sentences such as "Frank suddenly pulled Mary towards him and tried to kiss her passionately. Mary slapped Frank's face and stomped off", ask questions such as:

    Do you think Frank fancied Mary? Why do you think this?
    Was Mary happy with what Frank did. How do you know?
    Would you like to be slapped? Why/Why not?
    Describe a situation which might cause you to stomp off.


    Do not ask them questions such as:

    Who pulled Mary towards him?
    Who did Frank pull towards him?
    How did Frank try to kiss Mary?
    What did Mary do to Frank first?
    What did Mary do after she had slapped him?

    Such questions can be answered correctly even if the learners do not really understand what the crucial words mean*.]

    3. Get the learners to highlight words that they still don't understand and, in groups, discuss in English, what they could mean. Then get groups to report back to the whole class, and discuss what they have come up with.

    4. (If appropriate:) Give each group a short sentence containing what you think might be problem words/phrases from the passage, and ask them to translate them into Persian. Get the groups to report back to the class, and discuss the accuracy of the translations.



    Reading aloud has, in my opinion, very limited value indeed.
    Using a reading passage to teach vocabulary has, in my opinion, very limited value.

    * To see what I mean, read this sentence and answer the questions that follow it:

    A Snerdle torqued through a grundy grot.


    1. What torqued through a grundy grot?
    2. How did the snerdle make its way through the grundy grot?
    3. Did the snerdle torque into the grundy grot? If your answer is 'no', what did it do?
    4.
    Did the snerdle beksevate into the grundy grot? If your answer is 'no', what did it do?
    5. What sort of grot was it?
    6. Was the snerdle grundy? If your answer is 'no', what was grundy?
    7. What part of speech (noun, verb, djective, etc) are the fllowing words: snerdle, torqued, grundy, grot.
    78 What tense is 'torqued'.

    You probably got all the answers right. You still don't know what the words 'snerdle', torqued, 'grundy' and 'grot' mean. So, it was a pointless exercise.




  4. #4
    caminostro is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Great comment. Thank you so much. I'm going to try your ideas.

  5. #5
    *^^* is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    It's better to have students use English, not read English. They could have done the work you did by listening to the tape and looking up the dictionary. I think you may choose some topic, have students prepare for it and interpret their ideas with the aid of PPT.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Quote Originally Posted by *^^* View Post
    It's better to have students use English, not read English.
    The ability to read and understand English is using English. It is the only use some learners have for the language.
    They could have done the work you did by listening to the tape and looking up the dictionary
    Listening to a tape is hardly developing reading skills. Teaching learners to use a dictionary effectively is useful. However, in a reading lesson, it is useful to introduce learners to the idea of gist comprehension, and to help them guess the general meaing of words from context.
    I think you may choose some topic, have students prepare for it and interpret their ideas with the aid of PPT.
    What do you mean by 'PPT'?

  7. #7
    KatrinaB88 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Are you teaching ESP or General English? Clearly there is a huge difference in methods and expectations for both. Some great suggestions are offered in this thread for general classes, however ESP is a very specialised, specific to each field type of learning and requires an equally specialised approach.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj;
    What do you mean by 'PPT'?
    I believe the poster was referring to the use of a PowerPoint presentation.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  9. #9
    Brad D is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Please Review My Teaching Method

    Hi there!

    It sounds like you are teaching students in Persia? I'm really wanting to teach in Persia!! As one teacher commented, there are a lot of different techniques to teach students, and well, it depends on what type of student you are teaching. Most of my experience is with Asians; however, I've taught about 20 or so Persians. I really like teaching them because they are (from my experience) very intelligent, thoughtful and serious about learning.

    So, your basic method was sound. I mean, of course, right? You just need to spice it up. Do you believe it's boring because a student told you? Maybe someone sighed, or they yawned? Maybe your class seems "dead?" Well, does someone want to be "in charge" of the energy? From my experience with some ethnic groups, unless you are allowing a student to be the center of the show, they kill a class. I've seen this happen over and over. So remember, some classes will just be dead. You could do the same thing with a different class and everything would be great. Who is the dominate student in the class, are they a downer? You just need to have different techniques in your bag of tricks, and you need to know exactly why the class isn't responding to you.

    Personally, I have a dynamic style, which means that I sit down in class for about five percent of the class. I also use animated gestures, move around a lot, smile, and try to interweave a few stories, current events or humor (dangerous) into the lesson. I give them a little "song and dance." Again, this doesn't always work with very "serious" students. If I can, I bring in something to show them....for example, one chapter dealt with collecting things. I brought in a collection of coins and passed them around.

    If you don't have that, well, try this. Oh, I realize that students COULD do reading at home, but in my experience, most students won't, so unfortunately, you have to do a lot of that in the actual class time. So, I put them in pairs. I pick the pairs, trying to find the high level with high level, low with low. Shy with shy, or mix it up etc. While they are reading, I monitor (move around the class) and help them with some vocabulary words. I find the ones that most of the class doesn't know, put them on the board, or have a student(s) put them on the board.......you might have each group find two words that they don't know, give each group a marker and have them go to the board when they come across the words. Most "bored" classes sit a lot and don't move around the room. People think that "serious" means you sit. You can have fun, move around, laugh and smile but still be serious about making real progress.

    The highs will finish quickly. For them, I'm ready with the normal comprehension questions of who did what, when where etc. and what does "x" mean. This is still part of ESL/ESP teaching at every level. However, for these students, give them the more open ended questions like the one teacher proposed like, what do you think, how do you think they felt, why do you think they did that.....etc. That way, the High's won't be so bored. Be careful though, don't let them just have conversations about randomness. You still have to monitor. Give lot's of "hmm....that's interesting.....I didn't think of that.....etc." Make sure that you are spending time with each group. Actually, sometimes I will be at one group, but really listening to the group behind me. So, when I go over there, I know more about what's going on. Also, if you know the client well, you will be able to make the information more meaningful to them.....like....oh, these words are good for you because you are in "x" job. Ah, I heard this last night on the radio. Life is more alive when it has meaning.

    For the lows, they might just get to the general 'wh' questions...that's okay....that's what they are there for....progress. Putting them in partners allows them to make different paces, which breaks up the "boring" teacher/class atmosphere. Also, you can get them to switch partners mid way etc. Get them to stand up a little and get their blood pumping. Some bored classes are that way because students feel left out, just passively listening. Movement and being responded to gives them motivation to work more.

    How old are the students? What is their educational background? Why are they in school....I mean....why are the REALLY in school. What are their goals, in school, work, life? Knowing your client allows you to move the topics in a way that relates to them more, which usually gives them more interest. Don't get too personal though....you know....keep it Teacher/Student. Don't try to hard to do it. It has to be natural....like you care about them and they are important. Some people can do that easily, others seem to be reading from a script. (And after teaching 3,000 plus students, well, I DO get tired of talking about Sushi). Don't be invasive to find out about their personal lives......finding the right balance of knowing who they are is something to learn....but, this is one of the reasons I never get bored teaching English. The people are always different, and finding ways to connect the knowledge to their lives makes MY mind work. If I am bored, they most certainly will be.

    Hope this helps. You might ask others about the "being personal" part. That could be dangerous if you don't naturally have that ability.

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