In language teaching, the approach shapes and influences how an instructor views language learning and language in general. Once an instructor has an idea of how they see the language learning experience it is necessary to actually develop a plan or method of teaching language.
Method design is the development of the actual curriculum for language teaching. Methods are practical applications of various learning theories of language. There are several major methods of language teaching from Grammar-Translation to Silent way. The purpose of this post is to provide an overview of how people have approached the design of a method.
Consider the Objectives
Objectives are what the teacher expects the students to do. Often this is the first step in the systematic design of a method. In TESOL, there are two types of objectives. Process-oriented methods and product-oriented methods.
Process-oriented methods focus more proficiency or the actual use of the language. They are often more behaviorist in nature. For example, “the student will speak the language with clarity.” Would be an example of a process-oriented objective. Such an objective is holistic in nature and often involves several steps.
Product-oriented objectives often focus more on knowing than doing. These objectives are about grammar and vocabulary. For example, “Students will know how to form plural words” is a product-oriented objective. These objectives usually do not focus on the big picture of complex language communication.
Develop a Syllabus
The syllabus is a document that includes the subject matter and how it is discussed. Different methods have different subject matters. Some methods focus on grammar while others focus on communication in specific situations. How the language is learned is shaped by the focus of the syllabus.
Instructional materials are the actual tools that help to achieve the content in the syllabus. For example, if the syllabus has a subject about Asian history. The instructional materials will include a reading on China as an example.
Select Learning and Teaching Activities
The activities of learning and teaching are the tools that are employed for the actual benefit of the improvement of the students’ language skills. Again, each method has different activities. A grammar focused method will employ grammar activities. A functional focused method will focus on communication in context. Perhaps it is becoming clear how the approach shapes so much of how a person teaches a language.
Roles of Learners and Teachers
Method design also examines the responsibilities of students and teachers. Older methods of learning a language are usually more teacher-centered. This is consistent with the era in which they were developed as most teachings were focused on the teacher. Newer methods of teaching are more focused on the student and increasing student activity. Lessons are inductive in nature rather than deductive.
Regardless of the method, it is the teacher’s responsibility to apply the method. This means that a teacher-centered method relies on a teacher while a student-centered method calls for the teacher to facilitate student learning.
Method design often includes the concepts above. However, this is not the totality of developing language teaching methods. The purpose here was to provide some basic understanding of the components of a method.