English Teaching Methods and Teachers’ Perceptions

Introduction

English teachers understand the high expectations placed on them in their work. Since English as a language has become acceptable worldwide, it is indeed paramount to place great emphasis on its teaching. As such, there are quite a several strategies and instructional models that have been developed for students who are limited in English proficiency. According to McBride (2007), one of the models is what is referred to as the ELL program. This program is specifically designed to assist English illiterates and mostly those who are not native speakers to be at par with others. It is imperative to note that the actual aim of any educational strategy is to prepare students to acceptable levels in readiness for certain tests and assessments to prove their proficiency. Hence, educational research has established a dire need to change teaching tactics for English learners especially in situations where some of the learners are foreign or are not native English speakers (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2010). However, there exist various attributions and perceptions among teachers regarding models that are used for teaching English learners. This paper explores some of the instructional models that have been used and how teachers perceive them.

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To begin with, it is imperative to note that there are myriad modes that have been proposed for teaching the English language. Examples of such models include ELD (English Language Development), question-answer method, CALLA cycle of instructions, SIOP Model, SDAIE Model, ILTIP model, and BCIRC model among others (Cappello & Moss, 2009). However, these models have their unique negative aspects which make some English teachers to object their use. Even though the main goal of English learning is to improve the language standards of learners, some methods are more utilized and preferred than others. As will be discussed, some of the tactics are only applicable in certain situations and teachers have different perceptions regarding these methods. The following section discusses English teaching instruction methods and teachers’ perceptions.

English Language Development (ELD) program

As documented by Garcia (2005), the ELD method is a kind of seminar whereby the courses that are taught in the English language offer opportunity to students to use the language. In such seminars, one is capable of improving and remembering the basics of the English language. This program has mostly been used in Europe in what is referred to as Euroversity seminars. These seminars do not only equip students with added value in the English language. It also assists them to improve at a personal level and acquire a firm background in business English.

However, this program has elicited both positive and negative views. According to Claudine (2005), it is a recommended measure bearing in mind that English is an international language. Indeed, it holistically prepares learners since it does not only improve the language basics of a student but also gives good grounds in other areas such as business. However, this method has been touted to take long before it gives the necessary impacts. For example, it may take longer as compared to classroom efforts. Since teachers may need prompt results in their input in teaching, this model of teaching may not be preferred. And even though it has around means of educating learners, the development of the learner may not be realized immediately after the commencement of the program.

Cooperative learning

This method employs the tact of putting learners in groups so that they can impart knowledge to one another. This is a very effective method and has been applied widely in teaching not only the English language but also other areas of academic learning. According to Cuccione (2011), the best way of learning is when students share what they have acquired. For example, some students may be lagging in certain aspects of the English language while others may be well equipped in it. In such a case, the cooperative learning model would offer a viable chance for all students.

Sincerely speaking, this method is a favorable and sound means of leveraging all students. It is a very effective method especially in groups of not more than four learners who have diverse learning capabilities and needs. With such a method, teachers’ efforts are minimal and much of the task involves guidance. He or she may have technical appearances in guiding students or giving them ideas on what to learn. According to Holliday (2005), this method is most appropriate for elementary teachers as well as the student who feel that there is a need for concerted efforts. It is mostly for the ones who are starters of the English language. However, the heavy reliance on this method may as well cripple. The teachers feel that their maximum presence in a class is highly needed and expecting that the students would do everything for themselves would only hinder the rate of learning.

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CALLA (Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach) program

This program is designed to improve the achievements in academic especially for the post-elementary levels of English language learners. It builds on the cognitive aspect of learning and accommodates academic content instructions that enhance language development. This is an effective method of learning bearing in mind that it engages the mind instead of concentrating on the whole ‘body’. This ensures that the degree to recall is high. According to Gargiulo (2010), this method focuses on generating reflections from learners while they are undergoing their process of learning. The method contains three major components of elements namely the content topics, development of language/academic, and explicit instructions. This is a highly rated method by elementary teachers and has been cited as a way of qualifying the mind which comes first in learning. Even though it is an effective method, there are some negative attributions from elementary teachers. This method is seen as a long-term measure and not a method that can give instant feedback. It is more of an investment rather than a cure to the English acquisition and learning process.

SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model

This is a research-based observation instrument. It measures instructions that are sheltered and gives a model for planning lessons for English skills in writing, reading, speaking, and listening. The SIOP model gives teachers effective tools for working with English Language Learners even with the differing language of instruction. It encompasses teaching meanings and effective reading strategies. The method includes using language objectives by the use of content lessons, use of background knowledge, having the content vocabulary, focusing on the academic literary practice (Short & Echevarria, 2004). The method builds on the traditional sheltered strategies that encouraged the elementary teachers to always speak slowly, connect learning materials with concepts and promote the interactions of their peers. This is a round method that takes in various measures, but more importantly, it is preferred because of its step-by-step means of teaching. It can start from the basic preparation of content to building the background knowledge, having a comprehensible input, employing the interaction of learners, and reviewing and assessments.

SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) Model

SDAIE is a classroom strategy for English only but is akin to sheltered instruction. This strategy gives the English language learners access to the core curriculum and at the same time promotes English Language Development (ELD). It is a strategy that aims at providing appropriate content in academics and especially in the learning of the English language and integrates with intermediate know-how in speaking, reading, writing, and listening of the English language. According to Syrja (2011), SDAIE has been used extensively in California to make it comprehensible to English Language Learners (Ells). However, for effective use of this method, the learners must have achieved a certain level, especially the speech emergency levels so that they can benefit to the maximum (Syrja, 2011). This means that the elementary teachers would use this method sparingly. Learners who have not attained a certain level in speech development would not be favored by this method. Therefore, they have first all to establish that all of the students, or at least the majority have attained the established levels of speech in the language.

The ESL (English as a Second Language) Instruction model-K-12

It is an explicit method as well as direct means of instructing the English language. Most importantly, it is intended to equip and help English Language Learners in catching up with others in the same class. This model is mostly designed for students who are learning the English language as a second language. These students need to catch up with their peers, and they can only do so if they are subjected to a model that can put them at par. As written by Zacarian (2011), this method is used to review the proficiency of the students in the English language. If they are not at par, then, they can be subjected to a method that will put them at par with others. This method is usually a tough call for the teachers since they have to re-adjust their program to assist the second learners of the English language. However, it is an effective method since it makes the work of the teachers easy when teaching a whole lot of students.

BCIRC (Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition) Model

BCIRC is one of the dual-language means of teaching the English language and acts as a transition into what can be termed as the mainstream classrooms of the English language. The latter is a form native classroom designed for English learners. This program was designed to equip and help the students to have proficiency as well as literacy in their native language and then transit them into the English language. The method utilizes explicit instructional methods in language as well as literacy activities, in reading comprehension, and the integrated language of writing tasks and arts. It is most suitable for people in grades two to five and gives a major focus on the second as well as the third-grade students. Most teachers regard this method as important because it first captures students in their first language before transiting their skills into English (Creswell, 2011).

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ILTIP (Improving Literacy Transitional Instructional Program) model

This is another dual language method of teaching and as the name suggests, it looks at improving the literacy in English of the students whose first language is not English. It is also an instructional program and has a major focus on equipping the students with skills necessary for success in school. According to Nemeth and Brillante (2011), it ensures that there is a good transition or continuity with content in all grades. It gives the students some academic challenges that help them have the motivation to learn more. Most importantly, it connects the background knowledge of students to new English information. Kamil (2010) qualifies this method as very motivating to the students and elementary teachers towards literacy. That is why it is highly regarded as an important tool of transition from the first language to English learning. However, as written by Kamil (2010), the method is not as effective as may be thought. Transition is not always easy and acts as a starter method. Some of the languages do not have commonalities and make learning as though it is babysitting. That is why some teachers abhor the method.

Helping the instructional methods work

From the discussion above, it is quite clear that all of the methods have to involve two major parties, the students/learners and the elementary teachers. Mostly, these initiatives as outlined in the instructional methods are initiated by the teachers. The students are recipients of these methods and their enthusiasm counts a lot. Fazili (2007) points out that if the two parties do not have a common agenda, then, any method can flop. That is why communication is essential before doing anything, especially in such a matter. Birch (2007) adds value to this and notes that the learners have to get to the bottom while the teachers have to dedicate their efforts to achieve the common goal.

However, the teachers have to be choosy of the program that will fit, and in some cases, they have to adopt multi-strategies so that the overall goal is achieved. The overall goal here is to help the students, especially those who have no fluency in the English language acquire the stature of those who are fluent. The latter applies to students as well, and that is why Bardakci (2011) introduces the concept of research and consultations. In essence, if students have a program imposed on them without their consent or will, they will not accommodate any proposed ideas.

To recap it all, it is imperative to reiterate that any idea intended for fruitful use must be well researched, because if not, it may not have desired effects as initially projected. This notion is applicable in the learning of the English language especially among learners who have little or no proficiency in it. For example, if a student is in a foreign land and the English language is not his or her native language, then, there has to be a program that will help integrate the learner to proper acquisition and overall learning of English. It would also be crucial to make sure that foreign students are accommodated well in the program and be at par with the other native speakers of English. This paper has indeed offered a succinct analysis of available programs and models that have been proposed as instructional programs for English learning. Needless to say, the proposed models and programs have elicited mixed reactions from instructors who utilize these programs. In most cases, these programs are ideal and very much applicable. Nevertheless, each of the proposed models may demand some unique inputs from teachers, without which the expected results may not be realized.

References

  1. Bardakci, M. (2011). Teaching young learners English through language teaching materials. E-Journal of New World Sciences Academy 6(2), 289-295.
  2. Birch, Barbara M. (2007). English L2 reading: Getting to the bottom. California: SAGE Publications.
  3. Cappello, Marva & Barbara, Moss (2009). Contemporary Readings in Literacy Education. New York: Taylor and Francis Publishers.
  4. Claudine, Dumais (2005). Teachers’ perception of successful English Language Development Practices: A study of program delivery models, instruction and support services at two high performing two-way immersion elementary schools. Pepperdine: Pepperdine University
  5. Creswell, J. W. (2011). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education.
  6. Fazili, Mubeena (2007). Communicative method in English language teaching. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distribution ltd.
  7. Garcia, Eugene (2005). Teaching and learning in two languages: Bilingualism and schooling in the United States. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  8. Gargiulo, Richard M. (2010). Special education in contemporary society: An introduction to exceptionality. California: SAGE Publication, Inc.
  9. Guccione, L. M. (2011). Integrating Literacy and Inquiry for English Learners. Reading Teacher 64(8), 567-577.
  10. Holliday, Dwight C. (2005). Cooperate and feel great: Cooperative learning training manual. Maryland: University Press of America, Inc.
  11. Kamil, Michael L. (2010). Handbook of reading research: Kiwango 4. New York: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  12. Lodico, M., Spaulding, D. T., & Voegtle, K. H. (2010). Methods in educational research from theory to practice. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  13. McBride, M. (2007). Effective teacher-directed on-going collaboration (TDOC) to achieve a high level of SIOP instructions: Creating an environment to engage English language learners. Ann Arbor: ProQuest Information and Learning Company
  14. Nemeth, K., & Brillante, P. (2011). Dual Language Learners with Challenging Behaviors. Young Children 66(4), 12-17.
  15. Short, D. J., & Echevarria, J. (2004). Using multiple perspectives in observations of Diverse classrooms: The sheltered instruction observation protocol (SIOP). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  16. Syrja, Rachel C. (2011). How to reach and teach English language learners. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  17. Zacarian, Debbie (2011). Transforming Schools for English learners: A comprehensive framework for school leaders. California: SAGE Publications.
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