Monday, November 01, 2010

What the heck do I want learners to get out of my classes?

Recently I have been reading a lot of books about new teaching methodologies or new activities for listening, reading and grammar teaching. I have been doing this because I thought I needed to expand my repertoire of teaching techniques and activities. One of the books I read mentioned that if teachers do not have some sort of overarching goal for which their activities are conducted, then what they do in class is meaningless. This got me to think about my rationale for conducting the kind of classes I do, so here it is:

I do not think there is much I can teach students. I do not think I can even get students to like English (By English, I mean the language, the English speaking culture, etc.). In fact, I probably do not care whether or not they like it. Learning a foreign language is an active endeavor which involves listening to it and using it. Learners can learn to listen through repetition and eventual understanding of the meaning of what they heard and some of the unknown grammar and words. Learners can improve in speaking and writing the language through activities that involve memorization and others that involve communication. Getting feedback is also an important part of the learning process.

I do not know how "communicative" a teacher but my mission is to keep learners as busy as possible listening to the language, using the language and analyzing the language. Sometimes their language use is mechanical and sometimes it is what might be called "communicative". From my classes, I hope learners "learn" how to learn English, and I hope they come to my classes looking forward to working with their classmates and a willingness to try. Language learning in the end is something that will be accomplished by the learner and not the teacher.


Unknown said...

check this out: American attorney teaching English in Ukraine beats his former female student on the street, shouting out chauvinistic statements
no action taken.

comments are highly appreciated

Unknown said...

students will like learning language when they are well motivated. however, studying language needs a lot of effort, so those with less skills in foreign language may just give up

JH said...

Yes, motivation is the key. many of the students I teach are in my class because they have to be. they do not aim to be proficient speakers of the language. in these cases, I want to show them that they can learn the language if they choose to and also help them make some kind of tangible process.
of course, I am also fortunate to work with highly motivated students too. I actually like working with both kinds of students because I think it makes me better as a teacher. Anyway, good luck with your studies and I hope that things get better for you.