Teaching Methods of Overseas English
by Paul F. Watson
I reflect on teaching English in Thailand. It was demanding for both teachers and students. Foreign English teachers (FETs) walk into a classroom of strangers who do not speak a common language, and yet, are expected to produce results.
A Source for New Approaches: So what is it that Foreign English Teachers (FETs) are doing that works?
- Foreign English Teachers (FETs) use Active Learning. Students DO, not LISTEN. The old "shut up and listen to the teacher" method DOES NOT WORK!
- FETs break subject matter into logical sequence, with later lessons building on previous learning (same as American schools)
Each "skill set" should be studied with active student involvement.
- Each logical step is ACTIVELY PRACTICED by students every day.
- ACTIVE PRACTICE takes a variety of forms: on topic Games, Discussions, Puppet Shows, Reports, Classic Worksheets, Group Projects etc.
- Classic Example: 5 pairs of students are put back to back. Each is handed a similar, but different picture. They look, describe and negotiate with one another (in foreign English) until the pair have identified 5 or more differences in the pictures. They are not allowed to look at the other person's image. See example pair of images above.
- FETs reduce the scope - point focus on the objective. "Less is More".
- FETs ensure each "skill set" is practiced by students. (see below for details)
- FETs use repetition, but often disguise activities to avoid boredom.
One hateful aspect of traditional teaching is the lack of student social interaction. Social Interaction of Students is inevitable in a 'happy class'. After you have control of the classroom, turn social interaction into a positive thing. Paired students working on math is one example. A group project to present comparison and/or contrast of US presidential methods to historical WWII dictators could be interesting group project in world history.
Where possible, work students in parallel. Students SHOULD NOT all listen in a group as the teacher interacts with one student.
To implement all of these practices is a challenge; yet, the alternative is continued mediocrity.
- "Skill Sets" for Overseas English are Speaking, Listening, Reading & Writing.
- For Math, at lower levels it should include math skills practice (+,-,x,/), solution of equations, solving word problems & practice developing solvable problem statements.
- For Science, activites should include basic theories, application of scientific method (with discussion of reality), factual topics (e.g. periodic table) etc.. If possible, simple experiements should be performed by students.
- Usually, the core areas are broken into approximately 15 minute segments, with 2 to 4 areas covered daily.
Dionysus.biz Home Page