Working as a teacher trainer, I have two main aspects to consider for my students about second (even foreign) language educational practices: what to teach and how to teach it. Organizing for instruction provides the information that allows these soon to be teachers to determine how each class (the term) successfully develops. It is their analysis of their instructions and tasks involved that contribute to comprehensible education. This is one focus that proves hard to convey to these new teachers and certainly an ongoing professional development for myself. This means that there are educational objectives that they need that outline what will be learnt and what their second language students should be able to do/show at the end of the period of study. With respect to this, I will, in this reflection, outline what is contributed into this discipline as to help with my deeper understanding.
To begin with, I need to show in my training that education for each second language student takes on many factors not only learning academically but also being a student of life. This means that students become natural learners and recognize not only their role in the learning world but also the world as a whole. They can gain knowledge in the classroom but how do they apply it outside the classroom. This means that through education, within the teacher’s objectives, there should be provisions for each individual with opportunities to develop abilities so that each student is able to demonstrate that he or she can do a specific task to a reasonable standard. But the teacher must recognize that there are different types of objectives. They can be developed into separate areas. Three such areas exist. Each of the three areas or domains are of human functioning. There is the affective domain which involves feelings. The psychomotor area includes coordination and other physical skills. The cognitive domain includes those activities directly associated with doing academically relevant work. With these three domains, each objective shows prominence as observable actions that are what the teacher wants to observe after they have broadly educated the students.
The student, with respect to second language and achieving each objective, should be able to communicate effectively and recognize the need for lifelong learning. They should be able to participate as citizens in our democratic society. This means making responsible decisions, having respect and seeking to understand himself or herself. They should recognize and possess a personal value system which emphasizes consideration for others and understands that the quality of human life is enhanced by a harmonious relationship with the natural environment. These factors highlight the teacher not only as an educator but as a person. The teacher should be a role-model. These factors should help for a genuine group of learners/people that have learning as a focal point. This is said although the main focus is how they can reach these objectives in the classroom. The teacher must use specific tasks to bring forth their knowledge not only of life but also the knowledge and attainment of their new language in respect to the study of English. The teacher’s topics of instruction must be broken down into tasks. These tasks must be broken down into stages. Each stage has to have the students challenging themselves.
The students always need to be pushed one step further. One way to set up the lesson is to have an approach to educational objectives. The approach works this way: first, the teacher needs to find out who he/she is teaching, how old the students are, what level they are, and what their needs are. All these needs can be assessed. The teacher then needs to write some goals and objectives which are observable and measurable. Setting up a course requires three levels of objectives: immediate, short-term, and long-term. These are checked as the learner improves and progresses along the ‘natural order’ when he/she receives second language ‘input’ that is one step beyond his/her current stage of linguistic competence. For example, if a learner is at a stage ‘i’, then acquisition takes place when he/she is exposed to ‘Comprehensible Input’ that belongs to level ‘i + 1’. Any teacher would agree that the process of writing and understanding these sort of objectives leads to clarification of intuitively held teaching goals and thus leads to better teaching and testing decisions. The students should also recognize their learning so they have workable objectives for themselves. These can be initially mapped out for the students. It gives them that challenge. They should know where they are heading. They should know what level they should be at, come the end of the term. Of course for the teacher, these goals and objectives need to be put into a lesson plan that will educate the students without boring or challenging them too much. It is a challenge for the teacher to be able to predict the efficiency of the students when the term is all but over. The teacher has to take his initiative and then implement the lessons for the term. This is where all the planning should be successful, although lessons and students have to be evaluated regularly (formative assessment). Feedback is needed and also reflected on. This can be assessed to see the effectiveness of the lessons. All of this requires determination. There will be discrepancies between desired and achievable goals. The teacher should be open to amendments. It assists in judgments about the problems to be addressed.
To conclude, in this reflection, I have emphasized how important it is for a teacher to understand goals and objectives. It should be recognized that the students’ goals identify the ideals of skills and attitudes that a student in the education system should strive to achieve through instructional programs. I have shown that instructional objectives describe general outcomes associated with specific topics. I have explained that students need to show not only their knowledge but their behavior as a proficient learner. I have also recognized that the instructional program, through the clear understanding of achievable objectives and goals, the teacher should provide each individual with opportunities to develop abilities so that learners communicate effectively in their new language. Students recognise the need for lifelong learning, respect while seeking to understand himself or herself as a learner. The ultimate questions asked are “What is being done?” and “How are these tasks accomplished?”.All in all, it is the hope that this way of teaching provides a framework for understanding for these new teachers that I (and you) teach.
I think a few of you can recall I mentioned Stephen Krashen a few times and his theory on comprehensible input. Of course, time is always with us over the two days, so I am always reticent to talk too long about certain theories, although I hope I do highlight it efficiently and effectively. So, I have written a few extra notes on language acquisition, the classroom and Krashen and his approach and theory that will hopefully make you think more about what goes on in the learning environment and the approach you take in teaching the students.
To begin with, an EFL instructor can be a fantastic teacher but how does he/she know if the students are ‘acquiring the language’ in the way they should be which is natural and not forced. ‘Acquiring language’ is one of the salient points in children’s actual acquisition of a language. It is a fact that children, in natural settings, learn language rapidly and without formal instruction. Children are not given formal education when they are very young yet they acquire their language progressively to being fluent. It makes me think of some Thai schools I worked in where they barrage the students with grammar that is in such a formal setting that doesn’t leave any room for talking. The students can be very good at grammar but cannot speak and quite a few seem very shy also. Furthermore, if the students are not relaxed in the classroom (the setting) the teacher cannot expect them to learn. You would hope they learn their second language the same as their first language in a natural way where children never felt the language was demanding or never felt pressured and weren’t inhibited to use it.
The classroom as a setting I think should not be a place that is far from reality such that students can only speak in the classroom not outside where it is most important. I think that as a teacher the authenticity of the teacher’s teaching and the classroom has to be right so as to enlighten the learning experience. The issue here is students often learn their second language through constant grammar study so the similarity between it being similar to a natural, childhood, first language acquisition and later second language acquisition is not apparent. Thus creating a real classroom experience is a must for the students. The use of real objects, pictures, videos, roleplays, situations, even field trips (not forgetting the teacher/facilitator’s approach) to get the feeling that the students will use this language outside the classroom in numerous settings is a must.
Stephen Krashen whose ‘acquisition theory’ is used in teaching, states that ‘language learners need language ‘input’ which consists of new language along with clues as to what the language means’. As a teacher, you should follow this path that allows the students to speak in class while giving them that little bit more to expand their language. The teacher should build on what the students already know. I think this normal delivery of speech and with ‘hands-on’ language acquisition experience facilitates the natural learning process. If you remember when you were a child and your parents never really gave you a formal education in language acquisition, here lies comprehensible input that naturally supplies children: it is slower and simpler. Moreover, it focuses on the here and now, it focuses on meaning over form, and it extends and elaborates on the child’s language.
I think the students should not be treated like kids but you should allow the students to speak and acquire more language as they use their already known language such that the process will follow that the students will acquire more in your interesting natural approach classes.