(Many thanks to Halidou KONFE, trainee-inspector at ENSK)
1. LEARNING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TEACHING
NB: The ultimate test of “a good lesson” is not how well the Teacher performed BUT whether the Students learned.
2. TEACH THE STUDENTS, NOT THE BOOK
NB: Teachers tend to follow the book, deciding in advance how long they can spend on each item so that they will finish the book in a certain time. But the object of the course is TO TEACH THE STUDENTS, NOT FINISH THE BOOK!
3. INVOLVE STUDENTS IN THE LEARNING PROCESS
Students are likely to enjoy the subject, and succeed at it if they are involved in the learning process and, as far as possible, have a chance to influence what happens and how it happens:
Tell me, I forget.
Teach me, I remember.
INVOLVE ME, I LEARN.
We hear, we forget.
We see, we remember.
WE DO, WE UNDERSTAND.
4. DON’T TELL THE STUDENTS WHAT THEY CAN TELL YOU
NB: Most language teachers talk too much: Remember that the primary objective of the course is to improve the SS’ language, and to present them with opportunities for productive practice: try as much as you can to limit your talking time (T.T.T less than S.T.T) e.g. instead of saying “yesterday (or last time) we saw…” Rather start: who can tell us (not me) what we saw yesterday (or last time)?
The principle is to base your teaching on eliciting (i.e. asking questions) rather than instructing. Such an approach reflects accurately the roles of Teachers & Students in a classroom which emphasises that LEARNING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TEACHING.
→T.T.T= Teacher Talking Time S.T.T = Students Talking Time
5. SHOW YOUR REACTION TO WHAT STUDENTS SAY / DO
NB: exploiting real events involves reacting naturally to what SS say or do in class (eg. A student is yawning in class, what would you say? How would you react to that? OR: a student farts in class, what would you say? How would you react to that?
If you are surprised, shocked, curious, doubtful, etc, make sure you show it in your general reaction, in what you say, and HOW you say it.
ENCOURAGE other students to show their reactions too. Such reacting develops an important language skill (the active role of the listener in a conversation) and makes both the language and your lessons more alive for SS.
6. STUDENTS NEED PRACTICE, NOT YOU!
NB: The Teacher dominates the class in many ways. The more the Teacher TALKS, the less OPPORTUNITY THE STUDENTS HAVE TO TALK. YET IT IS THE SS WHO NEED THE PRACTICE! Beware of all the following:
- explain when it is necessary;
- don’t repeat yourself UNECESSARILY ( eg. When asking a question)
- don’t answer for SS, give them enough time for answering
- don’t overcorrect ( don’t correct too much and too quickly);
- talk about something which interests your SS and not YOU;
- don’t talk unnecessarily about the process of the lesson (eg: good morning, everybody. Please sit down. Now, this morning we’re going to look at sentences like…I’ll put that on the board…Oh dear, somebody hasn’t cleaned the board… can anyone see the duster? Ah, there it is… just a moment now. I’ll clean the board and then I’ll put the example on the board for you…)
NB: the general principle: IF THE TEACHER IS TALKING, THE STUDENTS ARE NOT GETTING THE PRACTICE THEY NEED.
7. VARY WHAT YOU DO, AND HOW YOU DO IT
NB: if the Teacher always does the same things in the same way, the Students will be bored!
Many opportunities for variety:
• Teach the unit in a different order (eg. Use the dialogue or the printed text for listening comprehension before the SS see the text)
• Use different ways of reading texts: prepared, dramatic reading, listening to the recorded text, etc.
• Vary who performs the task – you or the Students- It is not necessary for you always to ask the comprehension questions about the text – the Students can ask each other questions ( and even ask the Teacher.)
• Introduce alternative activities from time to time – games, songs, Pair/group work, project work, etc.
The principle is to have a constant framework within which there is a variety of pace and a variety of activities!
NB: Ts never complain that they have too much time on a course. The complaint is always in the other direction. If I had more time I could do…within the limits of any course (i.e. a two-week intensive course, a course lasting the whole of the Students’ school career) the target cannot be (realistically) a complete knowledge of English. In every case, SELECTIONS HAVE TO BE MADE of the language to be presented, the skills to be learned, etc
The most dangerous “selection” of all is an indiscriminate attempt to “do everything” or “too many things” in one lesson!!!
On a day-to-day basis, Ts need to keep SELECTION in mind. The main criterion is; will what I am going to say (to do) help these particular Students?’ The need to be careful of presenting too many alternative ways of saying (doing) sth, of putting too much vocabulary on the board at the same time, of going too quickly, etc.
The principle is: GOOD TEACHING IS NOT ABOUT SHOWING SS WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT ABOUT HELPING THEM IMPROVE THEIR PERFORMANCE, and KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS.
9. ACTIVITIES AND RELATIONSHIPS IN THE CLASSROOM CHANGE
A “basic method”:
1)-T. presents a particular language feature (vocab., gram. etc.) this process involves the T. giving examples, commenting upon it, asking and answering questions etc.
→ T_to phase (T-T)
2)-T. questions the class as a whole and invites either a choral response, or a response from a volunteer within the group…
T- to- CLASS (T. – C.) phase.
3) T chooses a S to play the role of the T in front of the class.
S – to - CLASS (S-C) phase.
4 a) T questions individuals (chosen by T) → T-to- CLASS (T-C) phase; 4b) SS question T.→ SS-to –T (SS-T) phase.
5) SS work in pairs/ groups and replying to each other in more or less controlled way → S-to-S (S-S) phase.
10- KNOW YOUR STUDENTS’ NAMES!!!
NB: These basic principles are also called “the 10 commandments”
(From HILL, J. & LEWIS, M. Practical Techniques for Language Teaching)