Teaching StylesTeaching styles seem to be as unique and different as a finger print. Teachers across the board have developed their own tricks and have figured out from past experience what works best for them as individuals because of their personalities, students, subject, and different topics within their subject.
While I was on vacation this summer, I went to China to visit my cousin who works as an oral english
teacher at a university. I wanted to get to know his methods of teaching and get a first hand look at how he conducts his class. As I was right in the middle of my Teaching english
as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course, I could pick out and identify a number of his methods and strategies.
He began with a warm up of personal questions to get the students talking. This was easily the ‘Engage’ phase of the class. As this was the last class before that class’ final exam, my cousin wanted to focus on reviewing instead of teaching his students new things (there was no ‘Study’ phase to the class). The advanced oral english
course’s main goal was to teach proper tones, emotions, pronunciation, and flow while speaking. So, to review, my cousin chose discussion/debate topics for the ‘Activate’ phases of the class. I don’t know that I would have dared to imagine that the students were so advanced as to be able to debate the topics he had chosen, but as I witnessed, they stood there debating with each other as much as they could with the vocabulary and phrases they knew. As I observed the class I paid close attention to my cousin. His manner towards his students and the way he demonstrated instructions were paced just slow enough and calm enough so the students didn’t feel rushed or anxious. The students were actually having fun in his class!
Reading about the ways in which a class could flow made sense in my head, but seeing the actual result was encouraging to me. Although the techniques in the units sound like they would make great lessons, it is different when you actually get to see the classes play out.
However, while I was visiting the university, I got the opportunity to observe my cousin’s colleague in his oral english
class. I was delighted to get this opportunity to see the way he taught his class, but was a little shaken at how almost completely different his classroom manner and style of teaching was to my cousin’s.
For warm-up or the ‘Engage’ phase, the colleague had his classroom sing a rehearsed song. Next, he introduced me as the visitor and had me talk about myself and answer questions from the class. Afterwards, he was going to show them a video that one of his other classes had made (which seemed like the whole lesson was based around) but the video projector had no sound and rendered the video useless. So, for his plan B, he had his students all come up with presentations on the spot of things they would like to teach me about their culture. During the presentations, I wasn’t so much judging the students’ abilities in speaking as I was the teacher’s ability in teaching. I didn’t understand the point of the lesson and I was having a hard time figuring out what he would have done if I hadn’t been there to supplement the class. I could feel the lack of consistency and confidence in his students during their presentations as well. The teacher’s manner towards the student was not varied (he used his normal speed of talking – which was fast) and he even teased his students off and on to the point even I couldn’t tell whether he was joking or he was being serious. But it seemed to me that his students (even though they seemed less confident than my cousin’s students) had adapted to their teacher’s methods even though I may have disagreed with his strategy in class.
So, in conclusion, I believe that it is important to understand a variety of teaching styles and to adapt the techniques you have learned into what works with your students and your personality.