Is it time for a new approach to language teaching?

There is so much hype in advertisements these days that few of us really believe what is promised. Adverts that enthuse about language learning promising you will learn the language in one day or a few weeks are obviously promising too much. Language learning is not easy and there is no real quick fix-it solution.

However, language learners can by helped to increase their current understanding and use of a language. Applying known theories of language learning can speed up the learning process. As a teacher of English, I have often been asked by parents to help their children improve their level of English. They often criticize the current teacher at school, but having taught English to a class of 30 plus pupils it was obvious that it is impossible to give each member of the class the attention needed for them to develop according to their specific individual requirements. Most English teachers in schools are doing the best job possible in such challenging circumstances.

Recently, a secondary student came for lessons to increase her level of achievement in English. I offered to raise her level of English in a more eclectic and general manner than the school curriculum required.  I believed the way forward was to focus on the learner and what she understood, where her interests lay and which specific areas of the curriculum daunted her most.

Simple matters such as how she held her pen, how slowly she thought and wrote and her lack of confidence in using the thesaurus on her computer soon improved her English results at school.

Surely a more realistic approach and a genuine interest in helping the learner, irrespective of forthcoming tests and results, is the only way forward. What do you think?


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