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What insights into English Language Teaching and Learning have you gained from the two observations you carried out?

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Introduction

What insights into English Language Teaching and Learning have you gained from the two observations you carried out? From the two observations I carried out, I have gained several valuable insights into English language teaching. Both the 'live' observation and the video observation used various teaching techniques, which I will discuss in this essay. For my 'live' observation I observed native speaker Tors Squires teach Group 5, an upper-intermediate class with students of mixed nationalities. The students were studying English for various reasons, but most of them were hoping to pass the IELTS exam to enter British universities. The aim of the lesson was for the students to come up with ideas for, and begin planning, their own magazines. This was in order to lay the foundations for a project intended to last a few weeks, in which groups within the class would compete to see who could make the best magazine. At the beginning of the lesson, the room was laid out in a 'horse shoe' shape with the teacher at the front the typical room layout in the University Language Centre. This shape is stated by Harmer (Harmer, 2007: 163) as making the classroom a 'more intimate place' where students are able to 'talk, make eye contact or expressive body movements', thus making it a good layout for language learners. ...read more.

Middle

The teacher seemed to interact well with the students, and knew all of their names and nationalities. According to Betty J Wallace (Wallace, 1963: 62) 'Unless the student feels very much at home with his teacher and his fellow students, he will not be able to achieve the freedom necessary for learning to produce sounds that are strange to him', and I feel the teacher in this class had succeeded in making her students comfortable enough with her for successful learning. I found it difficult to make reasoned suggestions for improvement for this lesson, as it was already very effective. In the video lesson I observed, the class was a pre-intermediate group of mixed nationalities. The aim of this lesson was to introduce the concept of superlative adjectives and examine how they are put into practice. Inititally, the class was set up in a 'horse shoe' shape. In stage one of the lesson, the teacher elicited key vocabulary which she had pre-taught them beforehand. I thought the methods the teacher used to elicit the words from the students were good, for example showing them a picture of two vases, one painted and one plain, to elicit the word 'decorated'. I thought this method was effective as it ensured the students understood the meaning of the word and when to use it, but the teacher made the class say the word together, and some students may not have joined in. ...read more.

Conclusion

The main reading activity went well, and the students seemed enthusiastic about it. During the activity, the teacher monitored the students, checking they were doing the activity correctly and asking them about the questions. I thought this was good, though sometimes it seemed the teacher was quizzing the students too much, almost distracting them from the actual activity. Following the main reading activity, the teacher began a post-reading activity, which involved the students reading the questions out loud again and giving their answers. Despite the fact it showed whether the students had understood the texts from their answers, I felt this part of the reading activity was not entirely necessary, as the students had already read the questions out loud and the names of Guinness world records holders would not be useful for them to know. The reading activity could have been improved by removing the post-reading activity, and by the teacher leaving the students to work for themselves during the main reading activity. Overall, I found the video lesson fairly effective. The teacher should have outlined the grammar point more for the students, as despite the fact it seemed they understood the point, they could have easily forgotten the concept as there was no explanation to link it back to. ...read more.

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