Thoughts about methodologies

I can clearly remember trying to learn French when I was in primary school and the only thought that comes to mind when I think back to those days is how much I hated the whole experience and to be honest I believe that my whole experience has had complete negative affect on my future endeavors into language learning and for a long time afterwards I always thought that I wasn’t language inclined. Looking at the descriptions of all the language methodologies I personally believe that the methodology used at the time was a probably mixture of grammar translation and audio-lingual as I can clearly remember a lot of time being spent on complicated grammar rules and   the use of static drills. As a child I can remember the difficulty I had with understand the rules and especially in regards to use of masculine and feminine which is something which is completely not present in English Language (which is my mother tongue).  And in the end the results was that I left the language classroom with any joy I had of French being completely destroyed.

In my current position teaching methodologies and procedures are a little different. With the school being an immersion environment where students are made to communicate in their TL on a daily basis and through a range of different subjects. This has a very immediate effect on the students and as a result causes them to have rapid overall improvement in their understanding of the language and overall fluency when communicating.   As for the English classes a task based approach is utilized and encouraged with students engaging prior language knowledge to complete set tasks and projects focus is general placed on communication and the ability to complete tasks on hand.  Due to my own rather negative experience i also find that I focus more on frequency and rather fluency. However with that being said I also unstained the context I constraints of having to pass exams which mean that sometimes time needs to be spent on form however where possible a communicative will be planned giving it more of a notional-functional approach.

In regards to Rajagopalan’s (2008) quote in which he mentions that many teachers have a general attitude of “but the caravan goes on” I understand where he comes from because for many teachers myself included the idea methodology isn’t something that plays in their minds on a conscious level daily basis and a lot of the planning and implementation that takes place in the classroom is based more upon intuition  However, due to fact that many of our text books have been written and influenced by research and modern teaching methodologies I do feel that even though we may not be aware of the methodology or approach in use examples of it can be seen in our teaching practice. For example in my current school there is push towards the TPAK & SAMR teaching models in regards to technology integration  and a  mixture task-based learning/project based learning and CLT. Even though those approaches are not explained they are actively used through teacher practice and can be seen on a daily basis. So to say that teachers are just teaching without being in  tune to methodologies isn’t always correct and is highly dependent on her progressive the leadership of the school is in regards to Professional Development and teacher education.

Making things interest with “where is Wally?”

One of the hardest things I have found about teaching is making things interesting which are traditionally boring. Naturally when teaching something like quantifiers the easiest thing is to explain and then get your students to practice on worksheets. But this time i decided to step away from the norm and use the famous “where is Wally?” pictures to get them to practice using something  that will just spark a bit of interest… And the best thing of all is that I am swapping the class roles and getting them to use their presentation skills to teach me how to use countable and uncountable nouns… Talk about flipped classrooms.

Thought I would just leave you all with all treat of your own (see below)

Creating a poster for the Earbud !! Task Based learning

Sometimes you are given the most basic of material in which to create lesson and this exactly what happened today. The CDU of the school had provided us with a simple video and reading about a piece of technology and as the “earbud pilot”. My initial reaction was horror !!! What are they trying to do ??? There are no questions no activities prepared what exactly are they wanting us to do ??? Don’t they realize that we already don’t have enough time as it is….

Then I decided to think outside the box after spending bit of time reading about Task based learning and the communicative teaching method I thought to myself what could be better than to make this into a task where students would have to use the prior knowledge to create something creative and interesting and hopefully a little fun.

Anyway the idea is as follows;

Firstly students will spend a little bit of time reading an article and watching about the pilot ear-bud after which they will then spend sometime working in pairs and research some pre-designed questions which will help them to generate ideas.

  1. What is the Pilot Earbud?
  2. What problems does it solve?
  3. What kind of technology does it use?
  4. What languages does it translate?
  5. How does it work?

Once they have researched the questions they will then need to use their creative juices to create an advertising video to promote the product using their iPads, iMovie and any other presentation tools.

As a task it utilizes numerous skills that are beneficial for the students. These include research, reading, listening, speaking and of course the mechanics of the language itself. But best of all students are required to utilize 21st century skills be creative and think outside the box.

Giving so much freedom to a class is always difficult but lets just see how things go