Monday, April 6, 2015

How to Teach English Properly

                                          How to Teach English Properly
Studying English has been one of the major concerns of Korean society for a long time so the Ministry of Education (MOE) has been developing English curriculums, evaluation systems, hiring native teachers, offering various English courses for teachers etc. As the result, MOE adapted the Teaching English Through English (TETE) policy when I started to teach English. At first I suffered from my poor English ability because MOE's TETE policy gave me stressful circumstance to use English only in class even though there was not obvious pressure. After acquiring English speaking ability I was frustrated because my students could not understand my English this time. I stocked in a box using only English. So I have been trying to figure out how to teach English properly in my classroom. It took several years for me to focus on teaching English itself and now I would like to clarify my ideas on teaching English in my classroom as I present this essay.

1. What is the reason for using only English in the classroom?
Krashen(1892) described that the effective language teacher is someone who can provide input and help make it comprehensible in a low anxiety situation. I agree that languages are learned most effectively when students are exposed to lots of comprehensible input in contexts of real communication. As teachers we have mixed level classes so it is a big challenge to consider all the students' levels, thus we have to figure out how to provide comprehensible input with challenging level and how to lower students' anxiety of learning English in the classroom. Teachers need to use the mother tongue to help lower level students or to introduce new words, however some teachers feel guilty or uncomfortable to use the mother tongue. Because they believe they have to give students lots of input using only English unconditionally influenced by Krashen or English only policy. When teachers are afraid of using the mother tongue it makes their students feel the same emotion at the same time.

Let's think about the reason for teaching English through English (TETE) in the classroom. The reason using English only is to expose students lots of comprehensible input, however they cannot understand what they hear, or it takes too long to understand the concept then there is no point but wasting time and energy. Using English itself cannot be a goal, it is only a tool to teach English naturally, however it seems like some teachers are stuck using English only. That is why I think teachers should think outside of the box and consider them seriously; Peter Mckenzie's idea that teachers use the mother tongue sparingly in class and Butzhamm's sandwich technique to teach English efficiently in the classroom. There are some arguments for and against the use of the mother tongue, however "the best solution is to make limited use of students’ native language at appropriate times and in appropriate places" (Rao Zhenhui, 2000).

2. What are the strategies for using mother tongue efficiently?

If teachers do not have strategies to use the mother tongue efficiently, then they could abuse it unconsciously or students could rely on their mother tongue so teachers have to think about it carefully.

-When should teachers use it? For example when teachers start the semester they have to share classroom management with students to make sure the students totally understand what they have to do or what they are expected to do.

-How should teachers use it? Teachers have to plan how often use it, what period or which step use it, how to reduce using it etc. If teachers do not have specific plans for using it, then students can also feel free to use it carelessly.

 There are some arguments for and against to use the mother tongue, however I believe that the best solution is to make limited use of students’ native language at appropriate times and in appropriate places especially for lower level students like elementary school students. They have to put lots of effort and time in to learn a foreign language so teachers should think outside the box of using only English and do not hesitate to use the mother tongue to give students comprehensive input using sandwich technique for the students' benefit.

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