Different English Language Teaching Methods

English Language Teaching Methods The number of different English language teaching methods available may seem a little daunting when you first start teaching. It doesn't need to be a scary subject though.

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Many schools will have their own preferred teaching methods, so often you will be asked to stick to a particular method when teaching.

Other schools leave you free to teach in any way you want to. Most are a combination of the two.

The most common methodology taught in ESL training courses is "PPP" (Presentation, Practice, and Production).

"ESA" (Engage, Study, and Activate) is also popular among trainers.

So what are these two English language teaching methods?

The PPP (Presentation, Practice and Production) teaching method

These methods are similar but there are some key differences. PPP is more controlled and involves a lot of "teacher talking time," especially in the first stage.

The first stage, 'Presentation', is where the teacher firstly finds out how much of the target language (for example the grammar or vocabulary to be taught) the students know. This is called "eliciting."

The teacher will then present the language structure, usually on a board.

The students are generally expected to listen during this part of the lesson and their opportunities to speak are limited.

In the second part of the lesson, the students are given controlled practice of the target language.

This could be in the form of oral exercises, targeted at individual students, or in the form of worksheets during early stages.

Again, this part of the lesson is very teacher-led. Often more than one activity is given, each one allowing the students progressively more freedom to produce the language themselves.

The third part of the lesson, "Production," is where the students start to produce language more freely.

For example, they might be given role play situations to devise and act out, they may have free writing exercises, or there may be other opportunities to produce the language they have been working on.

Disadvantages of PPP

  1. Firstly, the amount of teacher talking time is disproportionately high compared to the amount of student talking time, certainly in the first part of the lesson.

  2. It encourages accuracy over fluency, and this is not always the desired outcome of a course.

  3. Thirdly, it does not allow for recap, or movement between the different stages. This is where the ESA method is often preferred now.

The ESA (Engage, Study, and Activate) teaching method

ESA is becoming increasingly popular within teacher training programs.

It allows for much more flexibility, and lessons often move between the different stages.

However, the same basic structure is given, with the need for presentation of some kind before any practice is given.

In the ESA method, there is more emphasis on student-led grammar discovery, eliciting the grammar from students rather than giving a detailed (and often boring!) teacher-led presentation.

The final stage, with free practice, is the same as the last stage of PPP.

Things to be aware of with English language teaching methods

Whichever method you follow, it is important to make sure your students get as much time as possible to communicate.

If you stand at the front and are a "chalk and talk" style teacher, they will get limited practice time.

It is therefore very important to include work in small groups or pairs as part of your lessons. This gives the students much more time to speak English during classes.

There are many other English language teaching methods. Old-fashioned "repetition" style teaching (the Classical method) are not popular now, and many of the styles that were developed in the 1970s have also gone out of favor as needs changed.

No doubt new methods will increase in popularity in the coming years, but whichever method or combination of methods you follow, if you know your students and put their needs first, many English language teaching methods will give you useful ideas for your classes.

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