Using a blend of methods and techniques

WYSIWYG Approach to ELT.
Nina MK, Ph.D.

WYSIWYG for me summarizes what we are facing and how we are dealing with that every academic year. On the one hand, we all have the national curriculum, the lesson plan, the term and final examinations and so on. We get a set of topics to discuss with our students, a certain number of grammar themes to be included into every unit, a vast array of exercises to practice and perfect the Four Skills. Genetically Modified Food plus the Conditional Mood, for instance. English As an International Language plus the Passive Voice. Ah, I had a lovely experience with that one! After I explained to my fifth graders what the Passive was, showed them how to change active into passive, drew diagrams to demonstrate the subject - object role exchange, and then gave them a sentence to practice with: Many people speak English.
In a few moments, they produced the results with bright eyes: Many people are spoken by English.

So I looked at my class anew to see what I have got. It turned out they were to study the Passive Voice, the whole concept in their own language, next year, so they had no idea what I was talking about. I explained the idea again and gave them a different sentence to work with, one that made them laugh: We read a book.

What is funny about the passive in this case, A book is read by us? Such a form does not exist in their native language!

When I look at various methodologies and approaches, I often think to myself, they are all quite good. Communicative approach? Sure, what else do we teach but communication! Learner-oriented approach? Absolutely! We are oriented towards learners, not into the vacuum so to speak. Individual approaches? Of course. Every child requires an individual touch. We teach mixed-ability classes on a daily basis. One student may perform all the exercises inside twenty minutes and ask for more, another may struggle with one exercise for forty minutes and never finish it. One child may hear really well or grasp all the new ideas or remember all the new vocabulary, another may flounder. Some children may have definite goals quite early in life while others do not seem to have a clue even when they graduate.

Teaching adults, doing teacher refresher courses is more difficult and at the same time much easier than teaching children. Though usually there is at least a semblance of a program of plan, as a leading lecturer/instructor I can always modify my plan, listen to my colleagues' requests and introduce some new topics, bring in more exercises, listen, read, write and speak with them as per their wishes and their needs. With school children, there are the set curriculum, the plans and the reports.

True, after the first couple of years we learn to compose reports even better than the bureaucrats who invent all those templates and surveys we have to fill in. Here is a phrase from an instruction manual which I love: "At the end of the year, all students must perfect their knowledge of the subject". We wish.
As an experienced teacher, I believe that we mostly use a blend of methods and approaches daily.

WYSIWYG, colleagues.

Comments

Hi Roger K

Thanks for your comment (and eagle eyes!). Actually, the spelling 'practice' is also acceptable as a verb, in fact it is the norm in American English - and we do have a global audience!

Cath
TE Team

I thought some one might mention American practice (!). But isn't this the British Council, whose mission I think is advancing British culture and language?

Hello Roger

Our contributors and bloggers come from a range of backgrounds and nationalities and the British Council's mission is to create friendly understanding between the UK and other nations. As such, we do accept that English is an evolving language used for international communication, and therefore we do not strictly edit contributions that do not closely adhere to the norms of standard British English.

Best wishes

Cath
TE Team

British or American spelling? This is a question which all of us may face daily. If someone consistently uses this or that variant, do we ELTs consider it a mistake or not? Add ICT to the mix: e.g. when I type on my iPad while travelling it would always throw in some Americanisms; it would also substitute its own version of a word I was typing, often to disastrous effect. And no, I don't always catch them, to the delight of my children. I think it's a good topic for a future discussion, which spelling is correct, which isn't, what is to be considered a mistake, what isn't. We are faced with this problem when evaluating students' competitions for instance. Another technical problem which I occasionally have on TE site: e.g. I tried to edit this very text back in 2016, but I cannot change that WYSIWYG in bold blue type; nor can I click on Save which appears crossed out!

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