Best Methodology for EFL Teaching
Teaching English to foreign-speaking students comes with much responsibility, creativity, patience, and kindness. On the opposite end, learning another language is challenging, requires practice and can be frustrating. To make the teaching and learning exchange seamless there are a variety of lesson structures and independent/ group activities available for teachers to implement into classrooms. Although many methods can be used, grammar, vocabulary, reading, listening, writing, and speaking are all important structures taken into consideration as learning the language comfortably and fluently is always the end goal. Throughout this summative task, different methodologies will be paired and compared to find out which one is the best.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Melanie M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The PPP Method
Presentation, practice, and production is a method used in the steps it is worded in. The meaning and condition of the language are presented to the student which gives them an introduction to the new language. Then the students practice the information presented to them and then they move onto producing the language in a more creative way, such as creating scenarios on their own. Task-based learning is a method using mainly tasks to lead the lessons, such as worksheets.
The actual language takes a back seat while the activity completion consumes most of the learning time. Both methods don’t have a good balance between teacher talking time and student talking time. The task-based learning method should create ways for the students to talk to each other and verbally practice the language. The PPP method shouldn’t focus too much on the presentation aspect although this method still proves to be effective with entry-level students over the task-based learning method.
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The communicative language teaching method caters to the role’s language play in everyday life. The focus is less on the accuracy and grammar and more on exposure to how the language is used casually, like suggesting what you should eat for lunch. Community language learning is a heavy group learning method that teachers use to have a better understanding of which lessons/ topics organically initiate more conversation amongst the students and make them pull knowledge as a reflex.
The teachers use this information to continue to create more lessons that are centered around the students. CLL might not be the best method for a larger class as it will be harder for the teacher to monitor everyone. These methods equally don’t take the formal structural approach of language teaching by technicalities but take a more verbal approach. Correction is not a main priority for the teachers. The amount of student talking time in each method is a good balance of class time.
The teacher’s main goal in the silent way method is to say as little as possible so that the students can discover the language on their own. It is said that doing so will help them digest the language better than using drills or flashcards. This methodology also uses colored rods and phonemic charts to signify a characteristic of the English language. Suggestopedia method has four phases; introduction, convert session, elaboration, and production. These phases are meant to create a comfortable environment for students, so they are most receptive to the learning of the language. It seems that both methods use very different approaches.
The silent way method is not a popular method used because of its lack of elicitation and flexibility. As opposed to the saying there is no room for error, this method makes it so there is no room for correction or guidance. Although suggestopedia generates a controversial parent-child relationship between the teacher and the student, it would still be a more productive method to use over the silent way because it carefully guides the student through the language and considers the environment.
The Engage, Study, and Activate method, also known as ESA, acts as the melting pot for all the methodologies mentioned. It incorporates the best qualities of the other methods and integrates them into three stages starting with engaging (gain student interest) then studying (constructing/ elicitating the language) and then activating (communicatively using the language). These elements provide a balance and range of activities and practice for the students. The more the students have the freedom to put words/ scenarios they learn, the more it will help them fully understand and be comfortable with English or other languages being taught.
Also, these elements can be organized in different ways to inhibit greater elasticity or cater to a specific learning level of the students. The different arrangements within ESA include ‘Straight Arrow’, ‘Boomerang’, and ‘Patchwork’. Although the arrangement varies in these three lessons, engage will always be the first stage and activate will always be the final stage. This method combats other methods such as silent way and task-based learning.
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In the final comparison, it seems that the ESA method proves to be the most effective but is not ruled out as the best method for all teachers. Because every student learns differently and there are so many methodologies available, there is no one general answer to the question, which methodology is the best. There are many other factors to consider as well for choosing the method that would work best for your students. Something might work for one teacher that doesn’t work for another based on environment, class size, culture, learning disability, etc. All the methodologies are available so that teachers can test a variety of them out or maybe use the best qualities from each.
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