In the language teaching profession, we have the best and worst experiences. After many years of teaching, we have information that seems to be slippery. When we begin our teacher education journey it is appropriate for us to focus on what we do know, what we have learned, what we can say with some certainty, about second language acquisition. Many novice language teachers gobble up teaching principles techniques without carefully considering the criteria that underline their successful application in the classroom.  The quick-fix approach to teacher education will not give you that all-important ability to comprehend when to use a technique, with whom it will work, how to adapt it for your audience or how to judge its effectiveness.

The teaching principles of automaticity: Efficient second language learning involves a timely movement of the control of a few language forms into the automatic processing of a relatively unlimited number of language forms. Overanalyzing language, thinking too much about its forms, and consciously lingering on rules of language all tend to impede this graduation to automatic.

Meaningful learning: The language classroom has not always been the best example of meaningful learning. Some classroom implications of the Principle of Meaningful Learning:

Capitalize on the power of meaningful Learning students’ interests, academic goals and career goals. Whenever a new topic or concept is introduced, attempt to anchor it in students’ existing knowledge and background so that it gets associated with something they already know.

As teaching principles, teachers we should avoid the pitfalls of rote learning:
(i)    Too much grammar explanation
(ii)    Too many abstract principles  and theories
(iii)    Too much drilling and /or memorization
(iv)    Activities  whose purposes are not clear
(v)    Activities that do not contribute to accomplishing the goals of the lesson or unit or course
(vi)    Techniques that are so mechanical or tricky that students get centred on the mechanic instead of the langue meaning.

The implications for the classroom are quite obvious. at one end of the spectrum, you can appreciate the importance of the immediate administration of rewards such as the teacher’s praise for correct responses, appropriate grades or scores to indicate success, or other public recognition. At the other end, it behoves you to help students to see clearly why they are doing something, what the relevance of it is to their long-term goals in learning English.

Teachers principles need to appreciate the students’ effort. But it has some shortcomings that ultimately have a high impact on classroom instruction. Its summary goes like this: Lead learners to become dependent on short –term rewards, coax them into a habit of looking to teachers and others for their only rewards, forestall the development of their own internally administered, intricate system of rewards. Considering all sides of the reward principle, the following constructive classroom implications may be drawn:

Provide an optimal degree of immediate verbal praise and encouragement to students as a form of short-term reminders of progress may help students to perceive their development. Encourage students to reward each other with compliments and supportive action. In classes with very low motivation, short-term reminders of progress may help students to perceive their development. Display enthusiasm and excitement yourself in the classroom. If you are dull, lifeless, bored and have low energy, you can be almost sure that it will be contagious.

Try to get learners to see the long-term rewards in learning English by pointing out such things as what they can do with English where they live and around the world, the prestige in being able to use English, the academic benefits of knowing English, jobs that require English. I fall learners are intrinsically motivated to perform all classroom tasks, we might not even need teachers. But you can perform a great service to learners and to the overall learning process by first considering carefully what the intrinsic motives of your students are and then by designing classroom tasks that feed into that intrinsic drive. Classroom techniques have a much greater chance for success if they are self-rewarding in the perception of the learners.

A variety of techniques in our lesson will at least partially ensure that a maximum number of students will be ‘reached’ so you would want to a mixture of group work and individual work, of visual and authentic, of easy and difficult exercises. A teacher’s greatest dilemma is how to attend to each individual student in a class while still reaching the class as a whole group. In relatively large classes, individual attention becomes increasingly difficult. As human beings learn to use a second language, they also develop a new mode of thing in, feeling, and acting-a second identity. The new language ego, intertwined with the second language, can create within the learner a sense of fragility, defensives and a rising of inhibitions.

At the heart of all learning is the condition that a person believes in his or her own ability to accomplish the task. While self-confidence can be linked to the language ego principle above it goes a step further in empathizing the importance of the learners’ self-assessment, regardless of the degree of language ego involvement.

Language and culture are intricately intertwined. Anytime you successfully learn a language you will also learn something about the culture of the speakers and that language. One aspect of this principle focuses on the complex interconnection of language and culture

Classroom applications include carrying out these points: Discuss cross-cultural differences with your students, emphasizing that no culture is better than another, but that cross-cultural understanding is an important facet to learning a language. Include among your techniques certain activities or materials that illustrate the connection between language and culture. Teach your students the cultural connotations especially of sociolinguistic aspects of language. Screen your techniques for material that may be culturally offensive. Make explicit to your students what you may take for granted in your own culture.

Asher, James: 19 77, Learning Another Language Through Action.
All right, Dick and Bailey, Kathleen. M 1991. Focus on the Language Classroom
H. Douglas Brown: Teaching by principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as an Education Expert in the BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and President of the English Teachers' Association of Bangladesh (ETAB), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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