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Running head: Philosophy of Teaching 1

Philosophy of Teaching

Tian Yu

University of California Riverside Extension

TESOL Portfolio


My philosophy of teaching is based on my prior English language learning experience

and pedagogical knowledge that I learned in both Chongqing Normal University and University

of California Riverside Extension. I started learning English when I was in my elementary

school. The first time when I found my potential in language learning was that I can always get

outstanding scores in every final test. I initially determined myself in interpretation field in my

high school because I found it was marvellous to interpret for government officials in vital

conferences. However, I changed my mind when some students started to complain about

English education in China and even fight for removing English from national college entrance

examination. I believe that applying too much grammar translation method and remaining

teacher-centred are the inappropriate mode of teaching and improper goals of English education

that contributes to this issue. Therefore, I chose to study English education in Chongqing Normal

University after my graduation from high school and enrolled myself in 28-unit TESOL

certificate program in UCR Extension to pursue more advanced knowledge in English language

acquisition and education.

After finishing TESOL certificate program and my bachelor degree in China, I expect

myself to be more prepared in English education. Thus, obtaining master degree will be my first

consideration. After that, I hope I can have my own English educational institute which will

focus on teaching younger learners to develop their language acquisition and establish their

interests in language learning, which I believe will definitely benefit their further study.

According to my personal experiences and pedagogical knowledge, I hold the belief that

students can learn English better when they are the focus of the class, and learning in a

communicative way. Therefore, I will explain how the leaner-centred approach and

communicative language teaching approach contribute to my philosophy of teaching.


Learner-centred approach makes the learners rather than the teacher the focus of

the lesson (Richards and Farrell 2011). It is more effective than other modes of teaching because

teachers can understand students needs, intelligences, learning style better, and then it helps

teachers to personalize classes for students, which definitely motivates and encourages students

to lower their affective filter. According to Larsen-Freeman and Anderson (2011), affective filter

is a metaphorical filter that is caused by a students negative emotions, which reduce the

students ability to understand the language spoken to them.

In order to be learner-centred, three aspects should be well considered. The first one is

understanding students need and goals. A variety of means can be used to get an understanding

of learners needs and goals including conversations with students, classroom activities,

questionnaires, journal writing, and other forms of writing. This can help to obtain information

including reasons they are taking the English course, occupations, current leaning goals,

interests, cultural background and so on (Richards and Farrell 2011). The second aspect is

evaluation of students different intelligences. According to Howard Gardner (1993), individuals

have at least eight distinct intelligences that can be developed over a lifetime, which are logical,

visual, kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic and naturalist intelligences.

It is undoubted that students have strengths in different intelligences. As a teacher, it is of great

significance to evaluate students intelligences through trying various types of activities, and

manage to integrate these intelligences as much as possible in activities to facilitate students

learning. Last but not least, lowering affective filter is another contributing method to benefit

students language learning. If it is kept low, which means students have less anxiety, but more

confidence and motivation, they are more likely to produce language in the class rather than back


When I was taking the ESL student teaching class in UCR extension, I observed our

instructor, Mr. Derek Houck employed learner-centred approach in his lesson very well. The

Learners were all adult beginning-level English speakers and their first languages were Chinese

and Spanish. In the first class, Mr. Houck asked students some questions about themselves.

(Where do you live? Do you study or do you work? What do you do?) Then he used Microsoft

PowerPoint to conduct an interesting game in order to review the language from last quarter.

This game included different categories of questions, such as job vocabularies, describing

position, raising Wh- questions. And different questions under the same category had different

points. Students took turns to choose questions. The one who had the correct answer could win

that point. In this activity, Mr. Houck first briefly obtained students background information by

short conversations with students, and then utilized a competitive game to motivate students,

lowering their affective filter. Students were highly involved and relaxed in class. Though the

questions were settled, students could still have options to choose from looking at pictures,

filling out blanks. They could also answer the question themselves or even ask their classmates

for help. This allowed Mr. Houck to evaluate students intelligences and preferred learning style.

In addition, communicative language teaching approach also functions well in a

productive and effective class. After students become the focus of the class, they should also be

provided with enough time and opportunities to produce language they learned and practice to

communicate. The idea of communicative language teaching approach is fuzzy in teachers

understanding (Larsen-Freeman and Anderson 2011), but it is certain that it originated from the

idea of communicative competence which has four components: linguistic competence,

sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence.


Cooperative learning is one of the most important method which can facilitate

communicative language teaching approach, supported by different grouping strategies with the

idea of zone of proximal development. According to Larsen-Freeman and Anderson (2011),

cooperative learning (sometimes called collaborative learning) essentially involves students

learning from each other in groups. In this way, teachers teach students collaborative or social

skills so that they can work together more effectively, which can undoubtedly benefit students

language learning. As for my target students, the younger learners, I believe it will be more

effective if students are grouped by their different levels because students are most likely to be

facilitated when they are in the zone of proximal development.

A representative example of communicative language teaching approach is also my

observation of Mr. Houcks ESL class. The class was designed to teach students Would you

like and Id like. In the production activity, Mr. Houck divided students into two groups.

Each group were asked to design a menu for a restaurant. After that, students were assigned into

different groups and role-played the conversation between a customer and a server. In this

activity, two students who actually had their own restaurant were grouped with other students to

help with making the menu. Throughout this grouping strategy, students could take advantages of

their strength and help other students, learning cooperatively. Besides, the activity was set in a

restaurant situation where students might most probably produce the target languages in their

daily life. Thus, students could also practice their communicative skills which they can apply in

real situations outside the classroom.

In conclusion, my philosophy of teaching emphasizes the importance of being learner-

centred and communicative. That is to say, students should be given more time to produce the

target languages in a communicative way. During my studying in UCR extension, I learned


sufficient knowledge about teaching methodologies and also had chances to observe and practice

them in the real ESL/EFL classes. I expect myself to obtain more updated and comprehensive

pedagogical knowledge and contribute them to further developing my philosophy of teaching,

then facilitating my real teaching.



Larsen-Freeman, D & Anderson, M. (2011). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.

Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Richards, J.C, & Farrell, T. S. (2011). Practice teaching: A reflective approach. New York:

Cambridge University Press.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligence: The theory in practice. New York: Westview Press.