METHODS OF LANGUAGE TEACHING

As an English trainer in Malaysia, I am constantly asked as to what is the best method to learn English effectively. This harmless question poses a myriad of challenges as the trainer struggles to explain in layman’s terms to the prospective learner as to how best he can learn English.

Instead of wasting valuable time explaining as to the method or methods employed in my training,  I shall proceed to demonstrate by having the students sit for an English test. After completing the test, I will go through each question with the student and explain to him where his weaknesses really are.

Two objectives are achieved in this manner. Firstly, the student will understand better the method that I propose to use by explaining to him how the grammar of the English language works. Secondly, the student will find that he can have a good control over the language as the parts of speech (in their simple forms) are explained to him. This will lead to a renewed confidence in the student to learn English.

Of course, the trainer must possess the requisite skills (English language proficiency and teaching methods most appropriate) to awaken the interest and desire in the student to learn English. I shall now attempt to explain the two methods (and their merits) that I employ successfully in my English language training for adults who require a basic knowledge of the language. These two methods are blended into my training to achieve the desired goals – fluency and accuracy in English as the foundation for future study.

THE FIRST METHOD: TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LEARNING

I will choose the topic of What are nouns? for beginners in the English language. The student will have with him a set of notes detailing noun study as follows:

NOUNS

A noun is the name of a person, place, animal or thing.

PERSON  : Boy, girl, teacher, pupil, Ali, John.

PLACE     : School, building, supermarket, Kuala Lumpur, India.

ANIMAL  : Dog, cat, cow, ape, buffalo.

THING     : Pencil, ruler, computer, book, radio.

NOTE: The student is then asked to give his examples of nouns to further strengthen his knowledge of nouns. To reinforce what the student has learned, he is given a set of exercises on nouns.

Underline the nouns in these sentences.

1.                  My uncle lives here.

2.                  The postman is coming.

3.                  Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia.

4.                  The boys are running in the field.

5.                  The dog bit the man.

6.                  Mary has a pen.

7.                  The building caught fire.

8.                  This mango is sweet.

Make sentences by putting nouns in the spaces.

1.                  Show me a ______.

2.                  Where is my ______?

3.                  I live in a ______.

4.                  The _____ is teaching ______.

5.                  Point to the ______ on the ______.

6.                  The ______ are jumping over the ______.

Thus far, I have used the inductive method of teaching by detailing particular examples of nouns. To recap what I have taught them, I use the deductive method of teaching whereby one goes from a general rule to a particular example, e.g.,

All naming words are called Nouns.

Deduction in teaching should follow Induction. Hence, I have used induction and deduction in this lesson to facilitate a better understanding of the topic, What are nouns? By the use of induction and deduction in my lessons on English grammar learning, the student is taught how to think clearly and logically. This method is effective in awakening interest and instilling confidence in my trainees to learn English grammar. Most of all, it prevents the trainees from getting bored and sleeping in my training sessions.

The trainee is now asked to compose sentences orally containing nouns.

Oral Exercise.

1.                  Compose three sentences containing the name of a person.

2.                  Compose three sentences containing the name of an animal.

3.                  Compose three sentences containing the name of a place.

4.                  Compose three sentences containing the name of a thing.

5.                  Compose a sentence in your everyday speech containing nouns.

The oral exercise is incorporated as a practical exercise in spoken English.

THE SECOND METHOD: SUBSTITUTION TABLES

In order to enhance the spoken English ability of my students, I use Substitution Tables. Since we speak and write in sentence patterns, it is only appropriate to introduce these patterns into my English training via substitution tables. The student is able to gain a facility of using English by practising these tables habitually. While practising these tables, the sentence patterns are subconsciously adopted by the student who in turn will demonstrate by speaking correct English in everyday situations. They may not be transformed into Winston Churchills overnight but the foundation necessary for the attainment of good English speech will be laid. A typical substitution table will look like this:

1 2 3 4
I

You

We

The boys

They

have three

ten

some

a few

a lot of

 

eggs.

pens.

ice-creams.

nails.

pins.

cows.

pair of shoes.

 

John

He

Mary

She

has

The above table is used to teach the use of has/have (column 2) and plurals ending in s (column 4). After much practice, students are then required to make new sentences after the manner described above.

FG French had this to say on substitution tables, “The device is based quite simply on the principle that ability to read and write a language, and to comprehend it when heard or read, is not a matter of grammatical knowledge nor even, primarily, of a very large vocabulary, but of habit: the habit of using oneself, automatically, correct constructions. Habit comes from practice and repetition, and only from these. There is no alternative. This device gives students a confident mastery of English constructions, free of error, without involved explanations.”

The two methods sum up how I conduct an English training successfully.

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