In a classroom situation do we actually follow the models or stray away to respond to the emerging situation , and yet achieve the learning aims is something worth reflecting upon?
For me teaching methodologies are like ‘straight Jackets’ that help us slip into the lesson and ‘play safe’ making it easier for us to meet ‘our’ aims. But do we stick to these when we are in a classroom or wander away to deal with emergent language or spontaneity. I recount a lesson while being observed for my DELTA. It was a Vocabulary lesson and I was following text based approach.
After having presented the language, its meaning and form, while checking their understanding I figured out that my students were nowhere. I realised they needed some more clarification and practice to recognise the syntax pattern and its use. By not adhering to the set sequence I would run the risk of deviating from my plan. But continuing with the sequence would kill the scope of real learning and spontaneity. I strayed off to respond to their emerging needs. I did some controlled practice instead of phonology as I felt it wasn’t appropriate to leave them in the raw .Moreover drilling is unlikely to benefit if they don’t understand what they’re saying! This helped to reinforce and consolidate their understanding of the newly acquired lexis needed for production stage. Not following it up straight off from here would have left them in ambiguity which in turn would have impacted their grip over the form and actualisation of the aims.
This had a positive impact on their learning as they revisited the lexis in context, and felt confident in handling it. Retention was better, eluding any lapse in understanding. Doing pronunciation close to freer practice improved their tenacity to use it. So the point I want to make is that an approach is important, for it helps you take off and gives a sense of purpose and one can navigate thereafter. If the lesson develops and grows from within, it not only shows true allegiance to the communicative methodology but also builds up scope for ‘real learning’ that comes with spontaneity not to forget the incidental learning that happens during the process.
In my case I observed that my students engaged cognitively and affectively and the lesson was unproblematic. For me methodology or structure acts like spring board that allows me to get straight to task and steer clear of any ambiguity and undirected learning, however abiding by it all through depends on the classroom dynamics. The ELT methodologies and approaches have evolved over the years and are products of numerous researches on language acquisition and visions. Applying principled Eclecticism alongside the models gives way to spontaneity and certainly yields visible results.