Whether you have taken teaching methods classes or you have put in the effort to become a great teacher without the guidance of a college professor, we all find a way that is comfortable to teach for us. Finding what works is great, and being an effective teacher is even better, but sometimes we get stuck in an educational rut – we fall on the same methods day after day and never give our students or ourselves a challenge. Here are some standard as well as some less common teaching methods you can use in the ESL classroom. Some you may know and use. Others may be less familiar to you. Either way, you can use these methods in your classroom to plan just about any lesson and in the process ensure your students’ success.
Try These 4 Go to Strategies for Teaching Language Concepts
What is the PPP Method/Model?
Present, practice, produce otherwise known as PPP is an instructional model that has been used for decades. In this method, you teach your students the grammatical concept you want them to learn. Then you show them the language used in context. Finally, you require your students to produce the language concept on their own. For example, you might teach your students to add –ed to a regular verb in English to show the past tense. Then, you would tell them about your day yesterday, making all of your verbs end in –ed. Finally, you would have them tell you or each other about their days yesterday using regular past tense verbs. This approach is possibly the most common, and you will find this patter in many of your ESL texts.
The Discovery Approach
The discovery approach is another teaching method which gives students examples of language in context. However it does not give an overt presentation of how that language works. After observing the target structure in context, students try to figure out on their own what the language rule is and in what context it is appropriate. In other words, you don’t give a lesson on past tense verbs. You either tell them about your day yesterday or have them read about it, and then you challenge them to figure out the grammar rule that is used in the passage. This is the start of the discovery approach and its foundation. It may be too difficult for students to pick up grammatical rules and concepts from a reading passage alone, especially with more complicated grammatical structures. That is, they may not figure out the past tense rule without a little help from you. If this is the case, you can give students an exercise meant to practice the concept you want them to learn along with the answers. In other words, give them questions eliciting the past tense form and the answers to go with them. In this case, it might be questions such as Did you brush your teeth yesterday? With the answers Yes, I brushed my teeth yesterday. Students can then look at the answers to the questions and try to figure out how and why the language works the way that it does. Once students have figured out the language concept, you can teach it to them directly so they can confirm or correct what they concluded in the discovery session. So once your students have concluded that –ed on a verb signals past tense, you teach the grammar lesson that tells them just that.
The Test Teach Test Approach
Test teach test (also known as TTT) is similar to the PPP approach. In this method, however, you test your students on a language concept before teaching it to them. By doing this, you get a read on what they already know. It also gives your students a chance to discover the language concept on their own (similar to the discovery approach) before you teach it to them. If you were going to teach the past tense using this method, you might give your students a test on the past tense. While they take the test, your students can observe how the past tense is used in context (as in the discovery approach) in the test questions. After the pretest, you teach the grammatical concept directly. You teach them to add –ed to a regular verb to make the past tense in English. After teaching the concept, you test your students again. So after your lesson on past tense formation in regular verbs, you give your students another test on it. In this way, they have the opportunity to discover the language concept, learn it directly, and then practice using it correctly in the final test.
The Task Based Approach
The task based approach is another method English teachers can use when presenting grammatical concepts to their students. In essence, you give your students a task to accomplish. Then you give them examples of language they can use to accomplish that task. Students are then left to accomplish that task on their own. With this method, you would give your students an exercise in which they would have to use the past tense. While they are working on the exercise, you give them examples of language which uses the past tense correctly, examples they might use to complete the exercise. Then you give them the freedom to use those examples as they complete the exercise.
None of these teaching methods is flawless.
If you take time to understand each of them and then try them with your students you will learn at least two things. First, you will learn which methods you are comfortable using as you teach. Second you will learn which methods your students have the most success with as they learn. Ultimately, use the methods that work best for both you and your students so they see the language success they so dearly desire.
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