Principles related to materials:
One of the most significant factors of teaching success is the proper selection and grading of materials. I set a certain criteria when I choose the material. I choose it according to many factors which usually include student group levels, interests , and some other factors related to possible environment of teaching. As for teachers, they need to select activities that aren’t too long or boring.
Selection of material:
Material selection should consider learners’ levels, needs, age and interests.
Material need to be selected or adjusted to meet students’ levels. In Al Ruya Bilingual School, differentiation is applied in classes. I prepare different activities according to students’ levels: below level, on level and above level. Materials that meet students’ levels diminish any frustration students might feel when faced with different level material. Thus, structure exercises, for instance, should meet students’ levels so that language development should be expected as a product.
Age group is also relevant to material selection. For example, colorful and funny books would be used for kindergarten learners whereas real world situation materials would be proper for higher stages.
Hard as it may be, it is essential to address learners’ needs and even consider differentiated instructions as well. For instance, some text books are designed specifically for tests, like IELTS tests which focus on exam skills and other strategies to help students achieve better results. Other materials address even certain skills independently like writing or reading according to each student’s weakness.
Materials should be student-oriented and consider students’ interests and preferences. For instance, EFL students need to be motivated to exert more efforts to improve their level. They need to learn the material because it appeals to them and helps them make sense of the information they learn.
Grading of Material:
Grading is one of the essential factors that are relevant to materials. Grading is based on many approaches according to the language aspect in discussion. For example, the Language-Centred grading focuses on naturally grading language; to teach sentences types, we start with declarative and imperative then we move on to interrogative and exclamatory. Other approaches focus on the lexical, grammatical and thematic factors; these approaches are called Situational approach, Structural approach and Notional Approach.
Relevance of Material:
Texts prepared by teachers should be interesting for students and related to their culture and needs. Students should feel that the material in hand is pragmatically meaningful and important by being used to express a realistic situation. For example, a text about fashion usually attracts girls rather than boys who might find it boring. Girls would use the target lexis in selecting their clothes and even everyday chats whereas boys wouldn’t normally use it.
Principles related to teaching
To achieve the language teaching goals, teachers have to personalize, manipulate and evaluate the TL by means of contextualization, repetition, using realia and successful assessment.
Contextualisation of Material:
To teach language, learners need to understand how, when and where to use it properly. Thus, they need to be given language in context. To start with, let’s define context. According to Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, context is defined as “all the factors and elements that are nonlinguistic and non-textual but which affect spoken or written communicative interaction” (Celce-Murcia and Olshtain, 2000, p. 11).
Auer demonstrates that contextualization consists of “all activities which make relevant, maintain, revise, cancel, any aspect of context which in turn is responsible for the interpretation of an utterance in its particular locus of occurrence”. (Roberts, 2001, p. 117).Teaching language items isolated from context is missing a great deal of the pragmatic meaning. Moreover, contextualization develops an ability to perceive and produce appropriate utterances so that learners should learn and acquire the language naturally.
An educator should be able to personalize the content in discussion. This can be achieved by asking students to talk about their personal experience regarding a certain topic. The teacher might mention an example of his/ her own experience as well. Then, the teacher can ask the students to mention real situations and talk about their own experience.
For example, to introduce narrative writing, I told my students about what happened to me during my previous holiday. Then, I asked them to take turns relating how they spent their previous holidays. This way, I used my own experience in the classroom to help personalize the topic. Nonetheless, a teacher might be challenged when faced by the limited use of real situations in class and in such a case, he/she needs to simulate reality.
To overcome the boundaries set by the classroom environment, many techniques and tools can be activated. A teacher can make use of media and realia as tools of illustrations. Techniques like role-play or acting out certain dialogues can be useful in the case of teaching drama or literature generally speaking.
Visual Aids and Realia:
Definition and importance:
“Realia is actual objects and items which are brought into the classroom as examples or as aids to be talked or written about and used in teaching.” Platt Richard ; Platt, “Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics”. Longman: 1992. Essex. Using authentic materials and realia to deliver knowledge helps make the English language input comprehensive, enjoyable and also builds” an associative bridge between the classroom and the world”. http://www.usingenglish.com/webblog/archieves. The function of realia is mainly to facilitate the students’ perception and production of the target language used in real life situation. Teachers can use realia either in their original form or in an adapted form according to the lesson objectives. In a foreign language classroom, Realia can be presented through the Yellow Pages, magazines, television commercials or non-print mass media including other audiovisual aids. For instance, to work on the imperatives with grade 3 students, I previously asked them to bring to class any food recipes and I prepared mine too. In class, I used the recipes as examples to show students how the imperatives are used in real life.
The importance of repetition in teaching the English language is apparent in the case of teaching EFL students rather than the ESL learners. ESL are luckier because they are surrounded by language authentic sources on TV, in supermarkets and almost everywhere because they live in an English speaking community. Thus, it is more essential in the case of teaching ESL students to use the repetition technique to teach new linguistic concepts. Although repetition alone isn’t enough. It helps to strengthens the long term memory of the linguistic aspects and makes it easier to recall. By repeatedly reviewing the teaching materials, a learner gains confidence
to present the language and use it in any situation such as lecturing or even everyday usage. Repetition generates a greater insight and understanding of language materials. For example, if a novel used as the teaching material, a teacher should ask students to read it more than once which helps foster a stronger knowledge of the overall structure of the material. Moreover, the more students read the novel, the more details they learn. One way of using the repetition technique is to use the same utterance or the material in discussion in different contexts.
Role-play is a speaking activity that tackles the learners’ imagination because they can imagine that they are different people or characters, or that they are in an imagined situation. Realia can help make role-play activities sound real. It is one of the teaching activities that are engaging and memorable.
Jeremy Harmer supports the use of role-play by the following reasons:
1-Role-play is interesting and inspiring.
2-Inactive students are encouraged to be more engaged and express themselves easily.
3- The outside world is brought into the classroom which expands the knowledge of everyday language.
Role-play activities need to be well-prepared to guarantee success. The teacher might need to present the language on the board and do some kind of drilling before actually performing the process. For instance, the students can practice role-play sets derived from familiar content or previously discussed topics which helps create a contextualized background knowledge. In such a case, students can “shift from comprehension- based activities to controlled production activities, and finally to activities which require the learner to engage in real communicative interaction.” (Nunan 1989:118)
“Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are, typically, ungraded activities conducted in the classroom setting.” (https://library.gwu.edu/utlc/teaching/classroom-assessment-techniques-cats)
Classroom assessment is certainly necessary for an effective teaching process. Some linguists call it CATs. They are generally used to provide learners and educators with useful feedback on their work. Good feedback helps students aim their efforts and concentrate on whatever adjustments should be made for a better performance. Setting assessment criteria is equally important because it helps organize learners’ performance. A well-prepared assessment helps students to develop self-confidence to improve their achievements.
In the context of language teaching, synergy refers to combining effective materials and sufficient responding techniques. As mentioned before, materials should be selected and graded appropriately as to appeal to the learners. Moreover, language concepts should be contextualised with pragmatic value, repeated with diversity and reasonably assessed in order to get students engaged. The wise and well planned synergy of the previous factors leads to students motivation.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
An intrinsically motivated student truly wants to learn the language and to improve his/ her level. They get involved in an activity because they think it is fun or improves their language skills. They are even eager to work on the assigned tasks. Thus, they start their own motivation from within, and they develop and respond faster in the classroom. They are not a burden to their teacher.
As for extrinsically motivated students, they may not be enjoying the lesson or even dislike the subject or language being taught. They are greatly teacher- dependent and motivated by external factors that are irrelevant to the task they are working on. These factors may include good marks, certificates or being recognized.
Extrinsically motivated learners may have to be enticed or prodded, may process information only superficially, and are often interested in performing only easy tasks and meeting minimal classroom requirements (A. E. Gottfried, Fleming, ; Gottfried, 2001; Reeve, 2006; Schiefele, 1991; Tobias, 1994).
4- Teachers role
Whatever kind of motivation is available on the students’ side, it remains the teachers’ job to exert sufficient efforts to motivate all kinds of students which plays a vital role in the teaching-learning process.