Popular Approaches to Teaching Methodology
Jul 4, 2010 Teaching Methodology 7989 Views
In recent years a debate has developed over which approaches to structuring, planning and implementing lessons are more effective. Theorists and practitioners are constantly arguing about how language acquisition takes place and how best to facilitate this. Many approaches and methods have been developed which have had a substantial impact on language teaching, although a lot of these procedures are rarely exclusively used in the classroom.
The approaches adopted in the classroom are usually determined by the students' needs, goals, and learning styles. For example, a beginner may have an immediate need for communicating basic needs of everyday life. For that student, a communicative approach may be the most helpful. A student who speaks well but has difficulty reading and writing may need a different approach. It is most common for the ESL teacher to use an eclectic approach, which is a combination of the structural or communicative approaches, in order to meet the needs of all students. We will now look at some of the more traditional and popular approaches to teaching methodology.
Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP)
During an initial teacher training course, most teachers will become familiar with the PPP paradigm. A PPP lesson would proceed in the following manner:
• Firstly, the teacher presents an item of language in a clear context to get across its meaning. This may be done in a variety of ways either through a text, a situation build, a dialogue etc.
• Students are then asked to complete a controlled practice stage, where they may have to repeat target items through choral and individual drilling, fill gaps or match halves of sentences. All of this practice demands that the student uses the language correctly and helps them to become more comfortable with it.
• Finally, they move on to the production stage, sometimes called the 'free practice stage'. Students are given a communication task such as a role play and are expected to produce the target language and use any other language that has already been learnt and is suitable for completing it.
Task-based Learning (TBL)
Task -based Learning offers an alternative to PPP for language teachers. In a task based lesson the teacher doesn't pre-determine what language will be studied, the lesson is based around the completion of a central task and the language studied is determined by what happens as the students complete it.
The Communicative Approach
The Communicative Approach to teaching highlights the importance of functional language as opposed to focusing specifically on grammar and vocabulary. Learners are taught to apply various language forms in various contexts and situations such as making a hotel reservation, purchasing airline tickets, ordering at a restaurant, booking tickets to a show, asking for directions etc. It is this constant exposure to language in realistic situations which is thought to aid language acquisition. Also, students are given a clear reason for communicating in the form of role plays and simulations. Accuracy of the language used is seen to be of less importance than communicating successfully.
During these communicative activities the teacher does not intervene as the purpose of such activities is too simulate real communication. Although communicative activities are widely used by teachers it is quite difficult to define exactly what a communicative approach is. This is because most teaching methods are aimed at improving communication irrespective of the techniques employed. The Communicative Approach is also seen to erode student accuracy in pursuit of fluency. The Communicative Approach has however been adopted in classrooms all over the world and has, in many ways, made an invaluable contribution to the profession of English Language Teaching.