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Approaches and methods

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by spsmith45, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    They were the first questions on the June 2011 Higher Tier writing in fact. They reminded me of the question types we used to see back in about 1988-1995 when authenticity was all the rage. I don't have a problem with this. I have to say that with the CA regime you can focus more heavily on vocab acquisition and general comprehension once the CAs are out of the way.
    I can see an argument for less focus on grammar with learners of moderate ability who find the mechanics of the syntax of inflectional languages really hard.
  2. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    But AQA's writing is tested by controlled assessment, and the future of those assessments is assured.
  3. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Apologies, I meant to write "Reading".
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I see what you mean, and they're more complicated than when that type of question was used for foundation reading.
  5. mlapworth

    mlapworth Occasional commenter

    What is meant by quality of input? How useful the words are? Or how well they are presented / taught?
  6. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I believe that it means how well selected, graded AND presented it is. By this token the "direct method" or "natural method" where large amounts of hard to understand language is likely to be less effective, even with rather more time, than an oral approach where the level is just beyond the learner but overlaps with his or her previous knowledge. (The so-called oral situational approach.)
    Even so, it has also been claimed that the approach of present, drill and practise freely is at fault because it does not correspond with our natural language learning which happens at a more unconscious level.
    The excellent Jack Richards and Theodore Rodgers book (Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching) (Cambridge) says that since the late nineties we have been in a "post methods" period where we have abandoned panacea approaches and methods and combime the best of a range of methods loosely based on the "communicative" approach.
    At the risk of repeating myself, I wonder how much PGCE students learn about these important things.

  7. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    On the Warwick PGCE, we were presented with lots of different methods. I wasn't aware at the time that any particularly method was advocated as superior. I find that I consistently use a combination of these methods. I formally present new vocabulary, but I also use phonics and grammar and skills-based learning. I find that, when I remove repetition from French teaching, the pupils' pronunciation deteriorates quite rapidly, but I also feel it benefits the pupils to learn phonics and to work out grammar rules themselves. MM
  8. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    A few years ago we were definitely taught that we were in the 'eclectic method' phase of learning a language and different methods were definitely explored not least because of the number of native speakers completing the course! However it is not studied for long because of all the other issues/material we needed to cover.
  9. One of the questions we always ask interview candidates is "Which method of teaching languages do you think is best?". It is always very poorly answered. More recently qualified teachers seem to be being told "anything goes" - as long as it amuses the children and doesn't make the subject "boring". Unfortunately for many schools struggling in recent years with take up, we appear in large part to have ditched any reason and rigoour in favour of entertainment, technology and cross curricular links. These are well and good in their place but not if there is no substance elsewhere.
    As for our approach, we favour the Michel Thomas Method for Schools, which is unashamedly old-fashioned, rigorous- but quite paradoxically effective and liked by students.
  10. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Very well put. Where pupils have been encouraged to think that learning is meant to be fun because headteachers tell them that (on websites, in assemblies, in newsletters, etc.), those same headteachers are the first to complain when the results aren't to their liking. It's the substance that matters, not the peripheral quack cures spouted by the disingenuous and dishonest pedlars of snake oil.
  11. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Glad to hear Warwick teach this area. I was taught the West London Institute, as it was then (effectively University of London) and they were quite thorough and fairly dogmatic on the "oral approach". You got a very thorough grounding on question-answer techniques in particular.
  12. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Just posted this on my blog:
    I have the impression that what is sometimes referred to here as the St Martins' approach/method has a good deal in common with the oral/situational approach.
  13. I agree with marmot. Having also been a Warwick PGCEr (1995-96) I also learned a variety of methods, some which I still use, some which I don't generally but the ideas are still there.
    Personally we use the Hodder C'est possible, es possible courses. Good for sentences structure and we link each module to relevant vocab
  14. To give a recent perspective I completed my PGCE at Liverpool Hope last year and I must say that looking at different language teaching and learning methods was at the centre of the academic side of the course - Our three essay questions were on an in depth study of the different methods and their scientific underpinnings, the role of grammar in teaching languages and then finally a classroom based project on putting AfL into practice with reference to a particular method of teaching. There was no bias as far as I could detect and I believe we were shown fairly comprehensively what the pro's and con's of each were, leaving it to us to forge our own way.
  15. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    That's good to hear. Sounds interesting. Thanks for posting, kijog.

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