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An Overview of Some Common Teaching Approaches

An Overview of Some Common Teaching Approaches | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The teaching techniques and approaches, as well as activities that teachers employ in teaching in the classroom, is known as teaching style (Cooper, 2001). Grasha (2002) defines teaching style as the continuous and steady actions of teachers in their relationship with students in the course of teaching-and-learning. Jarvis (2004) considers teaching style as containing “evidence of beliefs about values related to and attitudes toward all the elements of the teaching-learning exchange" (p. 40). Teachers' styles of teaching represent their behavior in the classroom. These definitions indicate that teaching styles are the methods, activities, and approaches that are employed by a teacher in the classroom or “the sum total of instructional activities, techniques, and approaches that a teacher feels most comfortable using when he or she is in front of a class” (Cooper, 2001, p. 301).

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Bernard G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Scientific Research

In the study of teaching styles in an EFL setting, Kazemi and Soleimani (2013) found that the most prominent teaching style used by teachers in the classroom in Iran is the formal teaching style. Garcia, et al., (2005) also found a relationship between context and personality in teacher burnout. Primarily, the teaching style of a teacher can result in burnout. Teachers’ teaching styles are also linked to the teacher’s locus of control (Kennedy, 1991), their knowledge of the content (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998), their self-efficacy (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001), their conduct in the class (Zhang, 2007) and reflectivity (Akbari, et al., 2008), as well as their management style (Yilmaz & Çavaş, 2008).

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Definition of Teaching Styles

Teaching styles have been categorized into direct (didactic) and indirect (student-centered) (Flanders, 1970). Bennett et al., (1976) also classified them as formal and informal styles, and Solomon and Kendall (1979) describe it as open and traditional styles while Lowman (1995) uses the description intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport styles. The teaching styles identified by Grasha’s (1996) are in five models, namely; expert, formal authority, personal, facilitator, and delegator models. The selection of teaching style generally depends on several factors that the teacher needs to take into consideration. These include the personality of the teacher, the environment, the level and age of the student, among others.

In this paper, the teaching style is categorized into teacher-centered and student-centered from which the styles identified above can be classified.

Teacher-Centered Approach

In a teacher-centered teaching style, there is passive learning by students. Hence they have no control over their learning. The student is a mere beneficiary of the teachers’ wisdom and knowledge (Ahmed, 2013). Among the various categorizations, the expert, formal authority, and personal model are teacher-centered teaching styles. In this regard, teachers, as the core of the class, make most decisions concerning the curriculum. Partly EFL teaching is teacher-centered since teachers are responsible for designing the curriculum and syllabus. Teacher-centered learning could constrain students’ progress (Duckworth et al., 2009). Students in a teacher-centered classroom, are passive recipients of information; the importance is placed on the acquisition of knowledge, while the teacher’s role is a primary informant and evaluator (Huba & Freed 2000). Teachers also establish learning goals for students and oversee the work of students through standard practices and procedures. Teachers also perform in ways that provide a framework to influence students' thought and behavior. They as models encourage students to observe and utilize what seems effective in a teachers' point of view. This is mostly the case in high power distant cultures, where those in power have the final say and make most of the decisions.

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Student-Centered Approach

In a student-centered classroom, learners play a critical part in designing their curriculums (Wolk, 2010). Students have the chance to make essential decisions and judge the significance of a method of teaching to their lives and personal beliefs (Brown, 2007). This is most prominent among higher educational levels where students can make informed decisions on their learning outcomes. In this situation, teachers are facilitators or guide responsible for assisting learners to achieve positive results. This type of teaching style places emphasis on the teacher-student relationship. Being a facilitator means asking questions, suggesting alternatives, and developing options. The teacher mostly assists students in making informed choices with the ultimate goal of developing their capacity to be responsible and independent with the ability to take initiatives. In an EFL class of students five to thirteen years, this approach is usually used and dominated by activities. For learners, less than nine years engaging and practicing is the primary approach in teaching while for young learners above eight years, the engage, study, and activate strategy is used. The teacher decides whether to use the straight arrow, Boomerang, or patchwork approach to lessons.

Similarly, Saulnier et al., (2008) specified that in the learner-centered style of teaching, learners are active participants in the learning process and do a more authentic assessment. Teachers delegate their responsibility to the student to help them develop the ability to work independently and autonomously. The teacher becomes a resource and available to the student when they need help. According to Brown (2001), the learner-centered approach is grounded in the constructivist philosophy of teaching like the Montessori method. In this regard, the learners learn by practicing and experiencing rather than relying on the teachers’ knowledge.

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To conclude, no one teaching style is capable of being fit for every condition. EFL teaching styles come in various forms and can be adapted and adjusted to suit a teacher’s condition. It is recommended that EFL teachers vary their teaching styles based on the circumstance as well as blend the various techniques to balance their weaknesses and strengths.

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