For the teacher: helping our students learn

How often do you talk about learning with youtr students? Have you ever asked them how they learn best? Do you adapt your lessons to suit your learners? What methods and techniques and approaches do you use in the classroom? Reflecting on these questions are fundamental to developing as a teacher.

In this article, I will talk about teaching methods and I hope it encourages you to reflect on your teaching practice, explore new ideas and ultimately become a better teacher.

The communicative approach

This has to be my preferred approach to teaching English. This method is based on the idea that learning language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language. I find this to be a very effective, efficient and personalized way of going about learning a new language.

Here's an example

Practising question forms by asking learners to find out personal information about their colleagues is an example of the communicative approach because it involves meaningful communication.

This is what it looks like in the classroom

Classroom activities guided by the communicative approach are characterized by trying to produce meaningful and real communication, at any level. As a result there may be more emphasis on skills than systems, lessons are more learner-centred, and there may be use of authentic materials.

Potential students often ask me what method I use and I usually answer that I use whatever method that works for them. I use a variety of techniques and methods and approaches depending on the learner's needs and what they want to learn. It is a symphony of techniques I have mastered over the years. But my preferred method is the communicative approach. That way the student and their learning is always at the center of every lesson.

How often do you get feedback from students about the lessons? Are you aware of the best way they learn? What kind of activities do they particularly enjoy? Why not explore different teaching methods you've never used before and try them out in the classroom? Experimenting with new approaches and techniques can help you grow and expand your tool kit.

Some methods work better with students than others. What method do you believe works best? Reflecting on classroom practice and experimenting can open new windows and help you feel more confident about teaching and learning and will ultimately allow you to enjoy your time in the classroom.

Alternative methods

Here's a list of other methods you can research:

  • Appointments with students
  • Art-based projects
  • Audio tutorials
  • Author’s chair
  • Book reports
  • Bulletin boards
  • Brainstorming
  • Case studies
  • Class projects
  • Classroom discussion
  • Classroom video diary
  • Collaborative learning spaces
  • Creating murals and montages
  • Current events quizzes
  • Debates
  • Designated quiet space
  • Discussion groups
  • DIY activities
  • Dramatization (plays, skits, etc.)
  • Educational games
  • Educational podcasts
  • Essays
  • Exhibits and displays
  • Explore different cultures
  • Flash cards. The Anki app is a great tool.
  • Flexible seating
  • Gamified learning plans
  • Group discussion
  • Guest speakers
  • Hands-on activities
  • Individual projects
  • Interviewing
  • Journaling
  • Learning contracts
  • Learning stations
  • Literature circles
  • Making posters
  • Motivational posters
  • Music from other countries/cultures
  • Oral reports
  • Panel discussions
  • Peer partner learning
  • Pen pals
  • Photography
  • Problem solving activities
  • Reading aloud
  • Readers’ theater
  • Reflective discussion
  • Research projects
  • Rewards & recognition
  • Role playing
  • School newspapers
  • Science fairs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sister city programs
  • Spelling bees
  • Storytelling
  • Student podcasts
  • Student portfolios
  • Student presentations
  • Student-conceived projects
  • Supplemental reading assignments
  • TED talks
  • Team-building exercises
  • Time capsules
  • Timelines
  • Use of community or local resources
  • Video creation
  • Video lessons
  • Web quests
  • Word walls

Here's a list of some popular teaching methods that are worth looking into:

  • Teacher-Centered Approach to Learning
  • Student-Centered Approach to Learning
  • High-Tech Approach to Learning
  • Low-Tech Approach to Learning
  • Direct Instruction (Low Tech)
  • Flipped Classrooms (High Tech)
  • Kinesthetic Learning (Low Tech)
  • Differentiated Instruction (Low Tech)
  • Inquiry-Based Learning (High Tech)
  • Expeditionary Learning (Low Tech)
  • Personalized Learning (High Tech)
  • Game-Based Learning (High Tech)
  • Blended Learning
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

I hope this inspires you to try out some new methods in the classroom and develop as a teacher. Your students will appreciate it!

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