Teaching English in the Context of World Englishes

There are many varieties of the English language in the world. The term “World Englishes” is a result of the impacts of English as a global language. People from all over the world take the English language and adapts it to many circumstances. We have British, US, Australian, Indian, African, Asian and ELF variations. These variations are influenced by culture.

According to David Crystal’s speech, “if you walk down the Oxford Street in London, you will hear a hundred different accents and dialects.” This is an interesting thing about language because we have the same situation in Brasília, where we can found all the different accents and dialects of Brazil in the same place, but we are still able to understand all of them, and communicate using the vocabulary and grammar used and taught on regular school. This is just the same situation about World English; the student can communicate with the British or American English learned in most of the English schools, but sometimes the comprehension will require the prior knowledge about the differences between the dialects and accents around the world.

When we talk about English teaching, we may encounter teachers questioning what variation of English they should teach. Learning context and the needs of the learners may determine which variety of English should be taught. A teacher must choose one variation to teach. Therefore their learners will have it as their primary model of communication. What a teacher needs to do is to let their students know that these variations of English exist. It is not possible to teach every variation of English, but the teachers can, at least, expose students to the varieties of English, showing differences in pronunciation and grammar, for example. This may be important when we talk about comprehension, because a student may encounter a situation that the English he or she will be in contact with may not be comprehensible.  This is how the English variations affect teaching.

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How should teachers adopt approaches and methods

In the last post we learned some important things about language teaching. Names such as: Approach, Method, Strategy and Technique. We can ask now “How teachers should adopt an approach or a method?” The point of this post is to provide some thoughts on choosing an approach or method.

There is no such thing as the best approach or the best method. It is important to learn how to use approaches and methods and understand when they might be useful, see its issues and controversies and see different perspectives in which theory and practice can be linked.  In trying to apply approaches or methods, the teacher should consider the context factors (e.g. cultural, political, local institution) in which teaching accurs, because it has impacts on the effectiveness of teaching. Some approaches and methods are unlikely to be used because they can be difficult to understand or lack clear practical use. There are some points we need to consider when choosing an approach or method:

  • Its advantages, effectiveness, benefits, practicality;
  • Compatibility with the teacher’s beliefs and classroom or schools;
  • It is complicated and difficult to understand?

Approaches, methods and techniques may be an essential starting point for inexperienced teachers.  As the teacher gains knowledge and experience, he or she will be able to develop an individual method, using approaches and methods flexibly and creatively based on their beliefs, values and experiences. They can transform and adapt methods they use to make their own, according to the reality of the classroom.

“The only way to make wise decisions is to learn more about the various approaches and methods available and to find out which practices have proved successful.” (Celce-Murcia)

REFERENCES:

RICHARDS, Jack C. & Rodgers, Theodore S. Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

CELCE-MURCIA, M. Language Teaching Approaches: An Overview

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Approach, Method, Strategy and Technique

There are some nomenclatures related to Language Teaching. In this post we are going to give a brief explanation about Approach, Method, Strategy and Technique and give some examples about each one.

Approach

To language teaching, an approach is based on researches or theories such as learning and language acquisition. They guide the choice of method.  Some approaches in language learning include the following:

  1. Cognitive

In the cognitive approach, language learning is viewed as rule acquisition, not habit formation. Instruction in often individualized. Learners are responsible for their own learning. Reading and writing are as important as listening and speaking. Errors are to be used constructively in the learning process.

  1. Affective-Humanistic

The affective humanistic approach emphasizes the individual and his or her feelings. In this approach, the communicative process keeps the focus on the meaning. The instruction involves a lot of work in pairs or small groups, considering the necessity of support and interaction. Learning a foreign language is a process of self-realization and of relating to other people.

  1. Comprehension-Based

Regarding to this approach, some language methodologists assume that second language learning is very similar to first language acquisition. Listening comprehension is very important and is viewed as the basic skill that will allow speaking. Learners progress by being exposed to meaningful input that is just one step beyond their level of competence.

  1. Communicative

In the communicative approach, it is assumed that the goal of language teaching is learner ability to communicate in the target language. Students regularly work in groups or pairs. Classroom materials and activities are often authentic to reflect real-life situations and demands. Skills are integrated: activities may involve reading, speaking, listening and writing.

Method

            A method is a set of procedures on how to teach a second or foreign language that is somehow compatible with an approach. Some examples of language teaching method include the following:

  1. Silent Way

This method is used with adults that are learning a new language. The teacher should not talk too much because the student has to be in control of what he wants to say. The mother language cannot be used.

  1. Community Language Learning (CLL)

In this method, a sense of community is emphasized. The teacher is a counselor and helps the learner. Students can use their mother tongue and the teacher can translate for it to be repeated by the student.

  1. Total Physical Response (TPR)

This method is based on the coordination of language and physical movement, most used with children. It can be used with English native kids to help them to acquire their mother language and kids that are learning a new language.

  1. The Direct Method

In the Direct Method the teacher uses the target language all the time with the students. It is not allowed to use the mother tongue. There is emphasis in good pronunciation and there is little emphasis on grammar.

Strategy    

Strategies represent an implementation component of a method. The following teaching strategies are for teachers of ELL:

  1. Always provide comprehensible input for the learners. Teachers may speak slowly, using gestures and body language to help students understand better.
  2. Link new information to prior knowledge. Tie new vocabulary to prior learning.
  3. Provide practice in pronouncing words. Provide exposure to new terms and words.
  4. Give students activities to work in group and monitor that they are participating. 

Technique  

            A technique is a very specific type of learning activity used in one or more methods. Some of the techniques used and espoused by a teacher and methodologist Johann Amos Comenius between 1631 and 1658 were the following:

  1. Use imitation instead of rules to teach a language.
  2. Have your students repeat after you
  3. Help your students practice reading and speaking.
  4. Teach language through pictures to make it meaningful.

We also have some recent techniques:

  1. Flipped Classroom (Inverting your class):

The Flipped Classroom Model basically involves encouraging students to prepare for the lesson before class. Thus, the class becomes a dynamic environment in which students elaborate on what they have already studied. Students prepare a topic at home so that the class the next day can be devoted to answering any questions they have about the topic. This allows students to go beyond their normal boundaries and explore their natural curiosity.

  1. Design Thinking (Case Method):

This technique is based on resolving real-life cases through group analysis, brainstorming, innovation and creative ideas. Although “Design Thinking” is a structured method, in practice it can be quite messy as some cases may have no possible solution. However, the Case Method prepares students for the real world and arouses their curiosity, analytical skills and creativity. This technique is often used in popular MBA or Masters classes to analyze real cases experienced by companies in the past.

  1. Gamification:

Learning through the use of games is a method that has already been explored by some teachers, especially in elementary and preschool education. By using games, students learn without even realizing. Therefore, learning through play or ‘Gamification‘  is a learning technique that can be very effective at any age. It is also a very useful technique to keep students motivated.

  1. Social Media:

A variant of the previous section is to utilize social media in the classroom. Students today are always connected to their social network and so will need little motivation to get them engaged with social media in the classroom. The ways you can use this method of teaching are quite varied as there are hundreds of social networks and possibilities.

 

REFERENCES:

CELCE-MURCIA, M. Language Teaching Approaches: An Overview

HERRERA; MURRY, 2005, p. 171

<http://esl.fis.edu/teachers/support/method.htm>

<http://www.everythingesl.net/inservices/seven_teaching_strategies_clas_06140.php>

 

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