ESL Classroom Observation of Teaching Techniques
The instructional lesson which was observed for this assignment was English as a second language classroom listening lesson. There were four students in the room during this lesson. These four students ranged in age from grades ninth through twelfth. Two students were male and two students were female. There was one instructor in the room. The primary teaching methodology used by the instructor in this ESL course was The Task-based approach to language learning. This instructor did well in explaining details, breaking down complicated topics, and conveying her message. But, she hindered her lesson by maintaining too stern of a tone for the duration of the class and maintaining no form of visual aid.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Joshua K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
It was evident this instructor has had experience in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) before. She had a clear, focused goal, an appropriate balance of communicative activities and structured activities, activities, and exercises were introduced in context, and the overall plan was highly geared along with real language use. All of the above has lead me to the conclusion that this instructor was highly prepared for the lesson which was observed.
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The task-based approach to language learning focuses on having students fully complete tasks which should be interesting and beneficial to the learners. Throughout the tasks, students use whatever language capacity they have already acquired to finish the tasks. The instructor should maintain a minimal amount of corrections in errors during these tasks. It is my opinion that this language learning method combined and interchanged with Immersion is the best approach. Immersion focuses on completely surrounding a student in the target language’s culture.
The instructor’s lesson presentation and classroom management were outstanding. The largest piece of supporting evidence for this was her smooth transitions between activities and the cultural instruction integrated into class activities. On several occasions, the instructor states “In the United States that is important.” This phrasing let the students know what was culturally important without demeaning them for their lack of understanding. Attempts at explaining cultural instruction can quickly snowball into phrases which will create a divide between a student and instructor. Two examples of these types of phrases would be “This is how we do it here” and “Our way is more important.”
The classroom atmosphere was interesting to observe. Several students attempted to present themselves as being detached and non-caring. But, it was evident that as the instructor saw this she was able to reel them back in.
There was an evident lack of technology for the students to use throughout this lesson. The instructor did not have any appropriate technology or visual aids to help get her point across. Should the technology be available, having some form of visual aid could have great benefit to conveying the instructor’s objective? Several examples of visual or technological aid include but are not limited to the following: Powerpoint, DVDs, CDs, cassette recorders, video, gif, a scan of worksheets, etc. Introducing at least one visual aid into this lesson could have significantly increased sustained interest from students.
I was impressed with the instructor’s ability to reform her concepts. This allowed multiple avenues of understanding for students to abide by. She did extremely well-revisiting ideas through new metaphors and explanations. The instructor also did well-referencing students’ interests while simultaneously maintaining the goal at hand. She would bring interests of her students into the lesson to help retain attention, gather information, and bolster positive responses from her students.
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The only weaknesses of the instructor which were observed were a lack of change in her tone and an overabundance of pointing. While it is important for an instructor to maintain order in their classroom through a stern persona, it is also equally important to create a space of comfort. She lacked any form of enthusiasm during this lesson. Her tone was constant but remained monotone and stern. The instructor’s stern demeanor did well to re-establish order, but I feel order would also be maintained through a more comforting and relaxed attitude. The instructor also almost continuously pointed her pencil at students in a seemingly demeaning manner. She would only initiate the action upon the stimulus of an activity she viewed negatively or whenever a student was wrong.
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