Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lesson Delivery 3: Your Teaching Method

What is the dominant teaching method that you are employing? How has the cultural, educational and program environment impacted your instructional choices?

What do you like about your teaching right now? What do you want to change?

What are some of the activities that you have conducted with your students? How did they go? What would you change?

What are some of the strategies that you are learning through this Practicum?

29 comments:

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds & Patrick Reynolds said...

As I'm teaching ESL in the ECASD this summer, I'm finding that my methods are pretty different than last summer. I am still doing a lot of the things I usually do: open-ended questions, group work, image-spelling-audio of a word, integrating language skills, etc, but I am more teacher centered this summer, because I have a seriously unruly group of 4th graders and a very quiet set of 5th graders. It just goes to show that you have to modify for the population and context.

Patrick said...

My teaching method has developed into what I call "Learning through use". Students here are used to using rote memorization and "regurgitating" this information on assignments, tests, and quizzes. I'm making them use the material I present communicatively. I make them speak I make them think about what they are doing and the significance it bears on their message in English.

I have to say that this method hasn't been too well received by the students. They want what their used to and know that they will receive it as soon as I'm finished (in roughly a week).

I also feel as though I'm a very slow and meticulous teacher. I don't like presenting more than 1 new grammar or vocabulary set and use class time to give plenty of examples and check comprehension. I was given a curriculum as a "guide". To be honest I have rarely used it for more than a guide as to what I should be presenting and have used none of its proposed activities or assessments. While that may sound bad it bears mentioning that the curriculum is wrought with rote memorization and neither caters to my preferred teaching style nor what I perceive as the student's real need (which is to USE English). I must also say that I feel that they are learning the same material but just in a completely different matter.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds & Patrick Reynolds said...

Hi P, I think you're talking about learning through practice; it's a concept that is fundamentally communicative and has been around since the 1980s (no offense meant).

Students who are unfamiliar with it, and are more used to rote memorization and "concrete facts" sometimes don't respond well to it. Do be sure to tell them how your approach will help them learn the language. This may be something you remind them about regularly and maybe even in their native language.

Mee_xiong04 said...

I feel the same way as Patrick. A lot of the activities here are rote memorization. I don't think this is the best way to teach students. I think there should be changes to the curriculum because I believe students learn best when what they are learning is meaningful to them.

For one activity, ONE MINUTE DRILL, it is all rote learning. The point of this activity is to try to get the students to say as many English phrases as they can within one minute. There is a list of phrases that they can use to practice. They can also come up with their own phrases or answer some of the question phrases on the sheet given. What I did to make this activity more meaningful to the students was I had them say sentences like “I like to shop…I like to watch t.v.” or answer the question phrases that deals with them personally for example: “What are you doing?” “I am watching T.V.”

By doing like that, my students could say a lot of phrases within a minute. This last camp, one of my students got 55 phrases in one minute because everything she said was what she like and do.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds & Patrick Reynolds said...

It sounds like you are doing your best to make the materials more meaningful for the students while staying within the prescribed curriculum! Good work.

Heidi Gradall said...

My teaching style constantly changing,and being adapted for each class acording to the needs for whoever decides to show up. I´ve learned that repetition is key, and if they claim to understand the material, it´s time for a quiz, because often they don´t actually understand it. Until the students can prove to me the remember the material a few days in a row we continue to work on the same thing. It´s tempting to teach, and move on, but I´m learning slow and thourogh is much better, especially becuase my students don´t study outside of class.

I like that I´ve been able to be so flexible, but a weakness is that if the students don´t respond well, or have much enthusiasm for a topic I tend to not press the subject material after they show a basic understanding of the topic, instead of making sure they thouroghly understand it. (Without a curiculum I have the freedom to teach whatever I like.)

I have found that sometimes the only way to draw a student in is to single them out and ask them lots of questions, I´m getting better at this. I also have the students give me lots of examples to test their understanding, this is probably my most common teaching method for each class. Lots of questions. The students seem to respond well only when they understand the material and the questions, but most of the time they don´t understand the questions. I find myself repeating a lot, and translating the questions, which I wish I didn´t have to resort to.

In summary, adaptation, questions, and repetition of material.

Flossie said...

My teaching style is alot like me. I´m loud and excited and I make them move a lot. For one of my brand new basic classes I make them get up and do a vocabulary dance before I teach them any new vocabulary. They clearly think I´m a huge dork, but it seems to work for me and it has definetly served to unite my class into a community as they laugh at and with me.

I also do a lot of communication activities. I emphasize just coming to class and trying and i stress that every little bit they learn is more than they had before so they should be proud of what they are getting and not so worried about what they aren´t getting. All in good time or poco a poco as I tell them. I love all the human nature questions and the idea of talking about who we are in real ways just like we do in the real world. I constantly remeber that I want to make all learning meaningful and that any explicit grammer lessons need to also be incorportated implicitly into our communication activies.

I try to be flexible and have fun but my students have quickly realized that I am in control of the class. It is MY class and we should have fun but not at a cost to the groups learning.

Nessa said...

Flossie, what's the 'vocabulary dance?' It sounds like fun to me. How old are your students?

Here's my teaching situation: I work as a teaching assistant in 13 different high school English classrooms. I'm not the head teacher and my teachers don't want me to come up with units of instruction, but instead create lessons that will get the students talking. I see each class just one time a week. My method is definitly based on constructivism and social learning ideas. I try to limit my 'teacher talk.' Although I want my students to hear English from a native speaker, I don't want to dominate the conversation. My lessons usually include lots of group work, open-ended questions, and a variety of activities.

One problem I am having is that my students are not using English as much as I would like - especially when they're doing group work. When I break them up into groups and give them a task to complete, they solve the task in their native language instead of English. I remind them to use English, but as soon as I walk away they stop speaking English again. Any strategies that have helped you keep students speaking English?

Flossie said...

Hi Nessa, well the vocabulary dance simply has them all stand up after I announce in a gameshow voice that ït´s vocabulary time!!! Then they all have to get up and shake their butt for 30 seconds, and trust me, I make them get up and move, even if they don´t want to. Some of them hate it, but they do it, and some of them love it, but more importantly i tell them to do it so they do!

13 classes!!! That´s nuts! Do you have any penalties if they speak english in their groups? I tend to threaten to move them to other groups or make them do worksheets if they won´t try to communicate in english. I´ll also subtract points from tests if they´re really being stubborn. I´m sure their are more positive strategies to use but these usually work for me.

I do try to remember Dr. Reynold´s teaching us that we can´t expect them to communicate above the level that we have taught them so i do often give them key words that i hear them repeating in their native language. do you speak your student´s language?

i´ll try to remember some of the activities i´ve been using. i´m huge on communication, i think often to a fault as i use very little reading and writing exercises.

SarahKjrsten said...

Since I'm teaching first and second graders I'm using a LOT of TPR. If I can find a way (any way) to get them moving while they're learning, I'll use it. Today the first graders learned that animals moved in different ways by standing up and acting out flying, swimming, slithering and walking. Since my students love games and pay rapt attention when we're playing a game, I turned the actions into a game. I'd call out an action and they'd have to mime it. The last kid to start miming the action would have to sit down--but they weren't allowed to sit inert! They may have been eliminated from the game, but they still had had to 'fly' along with the rest of us!

One of the lead teachers I work with likes to put everything to a rhythm. The kids learned how to give the date by clapping and snapping their fingers. If they're learning new vocabulary, they see a flash card and make a silly hand movement--like flicking their wrists or wiggling their fingers. I was skeptical when I first saw her doing it, but now I'm doing it too--it really helps the kids remember!

Aside from TPR I also use the communicative approach. I strictly use English in the classroom (although I will respond (in English) to my students when they speak to me in Spanish) and the teachers I work with use English 90% of the time--classroom management is the only time they ever in Spanish.

Because I'm teaching the content area of science in English when I plan lessons I really have to think about what and how I'm teaching. I have to ask myself: Am I meeting the language objectives? And am I also meeting the science objectives? If I'm meeting the science objectives but the kids aren't learning the language objectives then that is a bad lesson.

While I'm daily surprised by just how much English my students understand, they can't produce a lot yet (though the second graders really try to speak to me in English--especially if it comes to asking questions about my love life!) so I try to structure my activities with that in mind. I remember how frustrating it was in Spanish classes to be faced with an activity that require me to produce more than I was able. One activity that the second graders loved was being able to interview two classmates and find out what kind of pet they had (One girl said: "Yes, I have a pet. I have 2 dog, 3 cat, 1 hamster, 7 fish, 2 bird...", and one boy insisted: "I have a pet. I have a shark. It is very small. He live in the bathtub")

Because I'm teaching science and not English, I don't have many opportunities to overtly teach grammar but I do use every opportunity to sneak it in there covertly. I recast constantly. If I hold up a flash card of a fish and the kids shout fish I tell them to say "It's a fish." It's fun to see that even though I haven't set aside class time to teach "It's _____" the kids now know it and use it.

Charlotte said...

I have a unique teaching situation as I am tutoring online. I have two different "students" that I teach on regular basis. I take a lot of inspiration for my teaching style from how I teach in my U.S. classroom. I am just finishing up my student teaching placements, and I have found it very beneficial to have both of these experiences overlap. I am a big fan of group work and interaction in most teaching contexts. Group work, however, poses difficult when teaching through a computer, so I've had to get creative. One of my students has a high intermediate proficiency level, so I have asked her to be the "teacher". I have had her do a few exercises where she "teaches" the English skill of the week to a friend or member of her family, and then she reports back about how she taught it. These skills that she teaches are not very intensive, but they give her more English practice in a context outside of typing on a computer or talking on the phone. I find that this exercise works best when reviewing something that she has already learned. The first time she did this exercise, she taught her mother about verbs. She said it was very funny, because her mom tries to keep using English verbs in her Spanish sentences. This particular student is in college, so I've also encouraged her to find other people learning English so she can have a bit more face-to-face interaction.

Talia said...

I am in Japan, and am a part of a program called Guy Healy Japan. It is the largest English summer camp program in all of Japan. This year we are starting a new program called American Village. It is very similar to the first program, except we are making it even more American, we are transforming our camp so it feels like the camepers left Japan and came to America. Our lesson plans are already planned out for us, but we get to adapt them a little bit to fit the needs of the student. We just finished our first camp and it went great. We had about 30 campers between the ages of 6 and 13. We mainly focus on three types of English activities. We have pronunciation, listening, and conversation. I was the leader of the pronunciation section. We had three different activities with the kids. The first one was we would sing English songs and really focus on pronunciation. The songs for this camp were `Row your Boat` and `Baa Baa Blake Sheep.` We had about a 1 to 2 ratio with counselors to campers at this camp, so we got to directly work with the campers pretty much one on one for the whole time. It was great. It made the actvities much easier to teach. The second activity is word cards. We have flash cards with English words on them that have difficult phonemes to pronounce for Japanese students such as l and r, differnet vowels, and sh and ch. The last activity was drama club. We had flash cards with English phrases and emotions on them. The campers have to read the phrase while displaying the emotion. An example would be `sleepy`, `I`m really tired.` This is a really good kinesthetic activity. Sometimes the campers were really shy though, so we made into a competition, and whoever could display the emotion while pronouncing the phrase the best would win. It worked so well. I really liked our pronunciation stations at this camp. I thought that they really helped the campers with their English skills, while they were also very easy to adapt to different age levels.

Angie Gusto said...

I am working beginners, both children and adults, in Mexico, and I have used a variety of methods because it’s kind of fun to try them out! Sometimes my classes have hints of ALM with the use of dialogues and memorizing functional chunks of language, and I tend to use TPR and the Direct Method to avoid translation when introducing new vocabulary. Overall, my goal is to use the Communicative Method as often as possible, but I have found that to be rather challenging with beginners at times. I have been working a lot lately on new teaching strategies in the classroom, the following have been some of my favorites:

I introduced three verbs in class the other day, and in order to avoid being incredibly boring, I gave each small group of learners a verb to learn and present to the rest of class. I had tried this with other groups as well, but I felt like they didn’t really get into it. However, with one particular group of learners, they went above and beyond and presented the verbs in context (i.e., I am hungry, you are tired, they are ready, we are energetic…) and I was quite impressed. I told them my TESOL professor would be so proud of them and that they were good English teachers. I’m happy I tried the strategy again, because it turned out really well.

I have also been working on making my activities more engaging for the learners. In one two-hour class period, our objective was to be able to say the whole date, so our vocabulary sets were days of the week, months, cardinal numbers, and the years. Luckily for me, the months are cognates in English and Spanish, so we mostly just had to work on pronunciation of the words in English. To practice the days of the week, we stood in a circle and passed around my little stuffed elephant “ball” and said the days in the correct order, but we had the choice of changing up the order in which we passed the ball to keep everyone on their toes. That has been an important lesson for me as a teacher - if they don’t know when their turn is coming up, they pay more attention to the activity, and if you have to do a lot of repetition, at least make it active/kinesthetic so they don’t notice all the repetition. Also, for both the days of the week and the months, they played a game in small groups in which I gave each group of stack of notecards with all the days of the week or months and they had to compete with the other groups to put them in order first. They loved it! Even the adults! I was also able to reinforce the cardinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and check their pronunciation by asking them to read off their lists to me. They wanted to keep going, but I had to cut them off once they really had it down. We are going to continue to reinforce the material every day of class. I will ask for a volunteer to write it on the board and then have the class read it to me. (Today is…)

Angie Gusto said...

I am working beginners, both children and adults, in Mexico, and I have used a variety of methods because it’s kind of fun to try them out! Sometimes my classes have hints of ALM with the use of dialogues and memorizing functional chunks of language, and I tend to use TPR and the Direct Method to avoid translation when introducing new vocabulary. Overall, my goal is to use the Communicative Method as often as possible, but I have found that to be rather challenging with beginners at times. I have been working a lot lately on new teaching strategies in the classroom, the following have been some of my favorites:

I introduced three verbs in class the other day, and in order to avoid being incredibly boring, I gave each small group of learners a verb to learn and present to the rest of class. I had tried this with other groups as well, but I felt like they didn’t really get into it. However, with one particular group of learners, they went above and beyond and presented the verbs in context (i.e., I am hungry, you are tired, they are ready, we are energetic…) and I was quite impressed. I told them my TESOL professor would be so proud of them and that they were good English teachers. I’m happy I tried the strategy again, because it turned out really well.

I have also been working on making my activities more engaging for the learners. In one two-hour class period, our objective was to be able to say the whole date, so our vocabulary sets were days of the week, months, cardinal numbers, and the years. Luckily for me, the months are cognates in English and Spanish, so we mostly just had to work on pronunciation of the words in English. To practice the days of the week, we stood in a circle and passed around my little stuffed elephant “ball” and said the days in the correct order, but we had the choice of changing up the order in which we passed the ball to keep everyone on their toes. That has been an important lesson for me as a teacher - if they don’t know when their turn is coming up, they pay more attention to the activity, and if you have to do a lot of repetition, at least make it active/kinesthetic so they don’t notice all the repetition. Also, for both the days of the week and the months, they played a game in small groups in which I gave each group of stack of notecards with all the days of the week or months and they had to compete with the other groups to put them in order first. They loved it! Even the adults! I was also able to reinforce the cardinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and check their pronunciation by asking them to read off their lists to me. They wanted to keep going, but I had to cut them off once they really had it down. We are going to continue to reinforce the material every day of class. I will ask for a volunteer to write it on the board and then have the class read it to me. (Today is…)

Angie Gusto said...

To Talia: I think that's awesome that you are working in an "American Village" in Japan. I would like to bring a little more U.S. culture into my classrooms here in Mexico, but I have very limited materials. Do you have any ideas for me from you experiences in Japan?

Mikayla Schroeder said...

Right now something I like about my teaching is that I have been pretty successful in engaging the students in the lesson. This can be attributed to not having to follow a curriculum and having the freedom to choose the topics I teach and the activities and handouts I use to teach them. Therefore, we have been doing many communicative activities because not all students know how to write and it’s a lot easier to keep all the students engaged. I spend a little time on writing activities, especially in the class that has students with ages ranging from 5 to 11. As you can imagine the older students finish a lot faster than the younger students so I usually have an extension writing activity planned for them, and if they finish that I have them help the others or we move on and I send the younger ones home with homework (although, because this is a “summer camp” I don’t actually collect it).

Here are some of the activities that I’ve been using in class that the children really enjoy:

Hot potato with vocabulary: The first time I did this activity the vocabulary I was teaching was clothes. I took a pillowcase and stuffed it full of different items of my own clothes and we passed it around a cicle as the music played. Then when the music stopped the person with the pillowcase had to pull out an item without looking and say the name in English. The kids had a blast and asked to play again so I found some wooden animal puzzles in the kindergarten room and I planned a lesson of teaching animal vocabulary where we could use the puzzle pieces for hot potato (being in a circle already was a quick transition to playing Duck, Duck, Chicken/ Dog, Dog, Cat/ Horse, Horse, Cow ect. . We changed it every time around.)

Slap it (a good review game): I tape pictures of vocabulary or I write the word on the board. There are two teams. One person from each team plays at a time. When the teacher says the vocabulary word the person to touch it first wins a point for their team. I had to modify this a little and add a rule that you are only allowed three guesses each so that students don’t just try to touch every picture/word.

Board game: On Friday, for a review for the older student I created my own board game with questions to answer or riddles to solve in the spaces. I had to make my own dice out of paper and we used American coin money as game pieces. It didn’t take long to make and the students enjoyed doing something different. I enforced them to only count and talk in English when they were playing too. Directions definitely had to be clear, however, so I wrote them in their first language. My advice is to make it your own: Throw in spaces with Go back, Go ahead, draw a card etc. I will definitely do this again.

Mikayla Schroeder said...

Right now something I like about my teaching is that I have been pretty successful in engaging the students in the lesson. This can be attributed to not having to follow a curriculum and having the freedom to choose the topics I teach and the activities and handouts I use to teach them. Therefore, we have been doing many communicative activities because not all students know how to write and it’s a lot easier to keep all the students engaged. I spend a little time on writing activities, especially in the class that has students with ages ranging from 5 to 11. As you can imagine the older students finish a lot faster than the younger students so I usually have an extension writing activity planned for them, and if they finish that I have them help the others or we move on and I send the younger ones home with homework (although, because this is a “summer camp” I don’t actually collect it).

Here are some of the activities that I’ve been using in class that the children really enjoy:

Hot potato with vocabulary: The first time I did this activity the vocabulary I was teaching was clothes. I took a pillowcase and stuffed it full of different items of my own clothes and we passed it around a cicle as the music played. Then when the music stopped the person with the pillowcase had to pull out an item without looking and say the name in English. The kids had a blast and asked to play again so I found some wooden animal puzzles in the kindergarten room and I planned a lesson of teaching animal vocabulary where we could use the puzzle pieces for hot potato (being in a circle already was a quick transition to playing Duck, Duck, Chicken/ Dog, Dog, Cat/ Horse, Horse, Cow ect. . We changed it every time around.)

Slap it (a good review game): I tape pictures of vocabulary or I write the word on the board. There are two teams. One person from each team plays at a time. When the teacher says the vocabulary word the person to touch it first wins a point for their team. I had to modify this a little and add a rule that you are only allowed three guesses each so that students don’t just try to touch every picture/word.

Board game: On Friday, for a review for the older student I created my own board game with questions to answer or riddles to solve in the spaces. I had to make my own dice out of paper and we used American coin money as game pieces. It didn’t take long to make and the students enjoyed doing something different. I enforced them to only count and talk in English when they were playing too. Directions definitely had to be clear, however, so I wrote them in their first language. My advice is to make it your own: Throw in spaces with Go back, Go ahead, draw a card etc. I will definitely do this again.

Mikayla Schroeder said...

My classes have been very teacher-centered and I don’t like it, however because of what the kids are used to culturally and because of how they behave (very rowdy). I feel it had been very difficult to change this. The other day when we were playing Simon Says and I felt a few students were ready to take the reins and be Simon. However, a few of the others would not cooperate and they wined and complained that they wanted to be Simon. Although they were told that if they won the game they could be Simon, they still didn’t cooperate during the game. A couple students just completely didn’t want to play because they couldn’t do what they wanted to do. Any suggestions?

Cait said...

With my personality and character I have tried to imply more relaxed teaching methods in class. I try to incorporate bit of fun in with the learning, as I would think most people would try to do. In general I have a very sarcastic personality but because I know it is difficult to pick up on that in a second language, I try to avoid using it in class. However sometimes if I know it is very obvious I say something and usually get a few students to laugh. I try to avoid this though because many people don’t understand and I don’t want to give the impression I am making fun of anyone.

As for my teaching in regards to the culture, it has been altered a bit because in Peru, coming on time is a rarity. Therefore I had to adjust a bit to not getting mad every time, while still encouraging them to come on time. This took a few weeks to get used to, but now I understand. I still begin class as soon to the hour as I can even if it is with only one or two students. That way the others understand I don’t wait for them. Also, I mark if the students come a considerable amount late and if it is repeated enough (it counts as enough that the need to go to tutoring which is part of the school’s policy.) Anyways, I have become more used to it now and don’t become upset so that has helped my teaching method to know their culture.

Another part of their culture is to not participate as much verbally but rather just written or be informed of the grammar and write that down and do book practice. I don’t think this really helps with speaking the language and communicating with native speakers. So I encourage them to come up with their own examples written and verbally, which takes a lot of pushing. I almost never get a volunteer if I just ask the whole class so I have adapted to asking the whole class and then about 15-30 seconds later I asked for a specific volunteer. ONCE in a while I will get a volunteer in my smaller class (of 3) when I ask for a volunteer but not very often. This is a cultural aspect I have had to change my methods for a bit because I don’t often like to single people out. I have made it work for my benefit to ask those who are talking to their neighbor to show that it’s not ok, or to ask those who are much quieter to participate.

I have liked teaching so far. However at the institute I teach at, there is little variety. Originally I thought I would like to have this structure, but I have found out this book is really not the best and has poor activities or vocabulary sets. But at the same time, I have to stick to the book more or less with this vocabulary because it is what is on the already designed tests. That means in order for them to go to the next level they need to know the book and grammar they teach. I teach these while adding my own input or information which I hope is helping them overall even if they don’t see it as beneficial because of the tests. So now I think one thing I would like to change is a little more flexibility. Overall I have enjoyed it a lot though, but again due to my personality, I sometimes struggle with lesson planning since I am not a big planner in general. But who knows, all the lesson planning may be changing my overall planning.

Cait said...

@ Mikayla
I have had a similar experience in teaching kids. I have found it is mostly teacher controlled which I don't like. However with kids who don't know very much English in the first place, it is difficult to have conversations or do written activities. I did a lot of TPR activities. The most important was to always be changing activities. They did Simon says but when it got rowdy or they didn't want to participate I had to change it to Hokey Pokey or a coloring activity or charades. I learned it was important to maintain the control as the teacher and judge the situation. If it looked like it was about to get out of control or they would be distracted, I changed the flow of class.

Elyssa said...

I think that as a teacher, I tend to be way too serious. During my first Skype lessons with my student from Chile, I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be taken seriously (a lesson learned from Skype sessions with a former student). So I tried to get right down to business during our lessons and be really serious. However, my student thinks he is a sort of comedian. His approach to language is interesting. He loves to tell jokes in both English and Spanish because as he says, the help him learn. He told me something that made me think; “When you laugh, you laugh in every language.” I thought that was a really neat perspective. Now that we have had many lessons together, I am much more relaxed and now I can tell when he is making a joke and when he is asking a serious question.
As far as “online methods” I am employing… I did not use the webcam during our first lessons because he is in his 40’s and I didn’t want him to dismiss me as being “too young to know what I was talking about.” After I established myself with my student, we now use the webcam in all of our voice lessons. I have also been holding text chat only lessons in order to work on reading and writing skills. One activity we did that I really liked was watching a YouTube video that was a BBC gameshow where a person dances to a realistic word-for-word interpretation of a famous/well known song. The one we watched featured “Don’t stop me now” by Queen. It was a fun way that incorporated physical actions with the language which was often really comical.
Through this practicum, I have learned so much about how different teaching experiences can be. From reading about peoples’ experiences abroad to their difficulties/endeavors with online teaching, I have gained a new respect for the field. I have also found that I really enjoy teaching and being able to see an improvement in a student’s language ability and knowing that you had something to do with that is an amazing feeling!

nate mortenson said...

My methods have had to vary quite a bit because of the range of proficiency in my students. I have 5th grade kids who respond really well to open-ended responses and creative disucussions where they are able to express their personal opinions and ideas. I also have 2nd and 3rd graders where I have to do a lot of choral response because their proficiency levels are so low. I enjoy this range though and it's giving me a variety of practice.

MC said...

Hmm. This very much depends on who I am tutoring. I prefer to instruct in a way so my tutee can see its practical uses and try to avoid rote instruction. Again, this depends on my tutee. I had one from Japan and sue preferred to memorize. She also felt more comfortable when I acted more authoritarian while tutoring. On the other hand, my tutee from Spain preferred it when I acted more of an equal. She mentioned it is easier to learn when she felt respected as an equal. So I try to adapt my teaching methods to the tutee when instruction one-on-one. If I were in a class room setting, things will be different. I imagine I will be more authoritarian and less "friend-like". I would also have to be more generic in my methods of meaningful learning. With my tutees, I could make connections specific to them but in a classroom, that luxury is not there.

Maggie said...

Most of my classes are conversation based classes. Although grammar and vocabulary is a component of my lesson, we focus on speaking and conversation. So, I use the communicative approach for most of my classes.

I have one class in particular where the students are sometimes quite difficult. Some days they show up just “full of beans” and ready to talk, and other days they just have won’t participate! In order to generate discussion and keep the conversation interesting, I use a lot of open-ended questions, relate local issues to the conversation, and make sure to employ topics that are age appropriate to them (they are 15 year old boys). But at times, despite my discussion techniques, they just have days when they would rather chat about unrelated topics in their native language. I usually run a pretty welcoming, non-intense classroom atmosphere, but at times I have to be very direct with them in order to steer their attention toward the classroom topic. I’m not very comfortable being so direct and almost a bit demanding, but at times the success of the discussion depends on it.

On the other hand, I have a class where the student is always ready to participate but sometimes needs a bit of time to formulate his speech. I make sure to let him know that I have patience for this. I also want him to improve on his spontaneous speech and not worry too much about the small details of his speech, so we also do exercises for faster speech production. As a conversation instructor, I really try to keep a good balance between the two types of exercises.

Ashley said...

I noticed that when I began tutoring this semester I was very teacher oriented. I would often explain things, show examples, and then ask them if they understood. I later realized that if i continued to do this they weren't really learning but instead just listening to me talk. So I instead began to ask them to explain to me what they knew and understood and if they were wrong or if there was anything that was inconstant then i would make sure to correct them and explain why. This way they could not only provide me with their knowledge and understanding but then I could also attempt to enhance their knowledge. Most people learn better through doing then through being told.

After explanations and such I have them actual use and apply the things we have discussed. For example, one day we were learning and talking about "Question tags" at the end of a sentence. This is because there is a big cultural difference between how Americans respond with "yes" and "no" to a question compared to how Koreans respond with "yes" and "no". Thus for them when speaking English this often creates confusion and miss understandings, especially when it comes to question tags at the end of a sentence. So after we went through and talked about the different kinds of question tags and what they are really asking we practiced with them. At first I would ask them random question tag sentences and have them answer them according to desired response I gave them. After that I had them practice asking me any random question tag sentences they could come up with and then I would respond. After I responded I would ask them to tell me what the meaning of my response was. For example, was i really agreeing or disagreeing with the question? etc.

We don't really do many visual, memorizations, or drill type things. We more of have discussion. And since it is usually just me and one or two other students I can really focus on each of them and make sure to not leave any of them out. This also means that they are more likely to participate and talk/practice because they feel less threatened. :)

Ashley said...

@Maggie
My sessions are the same way. We don't usually focus on the grammar unless then ask me for a specific question or clarification, instead i try to make it more about conversation and actively practicing. I figure that they will learn more through doing and trying then through books and memorization of rules. I also like this approach because we can talk about lots of different subjects and topics and i can not only learn more about the students but I can also learn about their insight and knowledge in varying subjects. There are times that I actually learned more from my students then i did from some of my Korean culture classes. haha

Ashley said...

@MC
That's really interesting that you actually asked your tutoree's which way they preferred to learn and then adapted your tutoring styles and methods to better fit with them. That is a really interesting and cool way to go about it and to also make sure that your student learns the most that they possibly can. I wish this could be done in a larger classroom, but seeing as the more students you have the more that means that there will be a larger variation of differing learning styles. So it would be harder to implement a method that suits everyone. :( I know for sure though that the next time i tutor a student one-on-one or even in a group of two I will ask them what ways they would like me to teach and aid them to better help them. :)

Carolyn said...

One thing that I have realized while I have been teaching in Lithuania for the past two weeks is that I really like the constructive classroom where the students to a lot of the participation. Although I do not mind lecturing, I am finding that most of my presentations about Minnesota are quite short lectures because I want to show and tell the students what things are interesting about Minnesota and not bore them with all these facts.

Overall, the constructivist style has worked really well with my homeroom and the other groups that I teach with the lessons I am teaching them. I thought at first from my research in the methods class about Lithuania that it wouldn't work out as well but it definitely has and perhaps this has something to do with how I set-up the room and doing activities where the group gets to know each other more. I have noticed over the past two weeks that they have really come together as a group and many of the shyer students are also opening up too which is really cool to see.

I actually thought that this style wouldn't work because through my research before going, it said that Lithuania has had a lot of education culture leftover from the soviet union and many of the sources I used stated that many of the children would not participate and I have found that not to be the case most of the time so perhaps, times are continuing to change for this country.

Jennifer Speier said...

This blog post definitely is one of the most complicated for me, but it is definitely a good subject to reflect upon. The teaching style of my school is communicative/student focused, most of the time this actually happens, but sometimes it is just not possible due to student participation or the amount of topics we have to get through.

My school used to use task based learning which has now turned into projects. They develop one project over 4 classes/a 4 month period. The projects have many stages and usually make them interact with the community.

I like to introduce new vocabulary or grammar through some sort of reading. I've tried with listening and my students always came away more confused and frustrated rather than learning anything, so now I save listening exercises for later.

With adults I usually have them look for examples from the readign and then explain explicitly the pattern/rule for what we are studying. This is then followed by rote written practice and finally by speaking practice in class and writing practice in class/at home.

I am very lucky in that my adult class loves homework, so I am able to give them exercises to practice at home which allows me to do more interactive activities in class.

With my teen students I have to take a different approach because while they do enjoy learning English, they are usually really tired and un-motivated. I try to get them up and moving out of their chairs. We do a lot of group work and theater. I also use music to motivate them. Our teens have to do work at home, which has been an extra challenge, trying to facilitate their learning at home and make it different from just homework. Because they are teens I also use a lot more technology in the classroom.