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1. Describe your own experience of learning a language or languages.

English is taught as a subject from kindergarten until grade 11 at government

schools in my country, Myanmar. However, because of the traditional education system and
the teachers’ lack of teaching knowledge and language skills, we weren’t taught
communicatively and in a student-centered way but in a very traditional approach called
grammar translation. In the class all we had to do was to sit, listen to the teacher without
having confidence to ask questions to the teacher, and finally do the exercises blindly. When it
had come to writing an essay or letter, we memorized them and wrote them down in the test

Personally, as memorizing and having to listen to the teacher without responding

was something I was not talented in, I used to have very low grades. Plus, we weren’t
encouraged to familiarize with extensive reading by visiting the library. We not only did not
have intrinsic motivation and interest about learning English but also were not extrinsically
motivated by our teachers, parents or peers. At that age, if school teachers had engaged us to
watch some cartoons, read comics and sing some rhymes in English, we would definitely have
improved a lot better. As a result, we only gained little vocabulary and grammar functions, and
we never learned how to use any of them communicatively in real life.

After high school, before going to university, my mother enrolled me at some local
English language centers in town where I discovered that communicative, realistic, student-
centered and engaging ways of teaching approaches can make learning effective and fun, even
without having to put in so much effort. I started attending the beginner course which used the
Interchange course book. My first English language teacher was a women named Laura. She
was my first inspiration. The more I learnt with her and the more fun I had, the bigger my desire
of being a teacher like her was growing. In her class, all we had to do was playing games, doing
activities, and listening to the audio focusing on stress and tone. I remember she used
communicative and audio lingual approaches but on the other hand, she barely corrected error
or gave feedback. Maybe, it was because we were just beginners and only supposed to be
encouraged to speak fluently.

After that class, I was in love with the English language and started trying other
classes in town, getting library membership at British Council and speaking English with friends
as much as possible. As I was trying different teachers and classes, I realized that they used
different approaches such as functional, audio lingual, immersion and structural, but they all
had one thing in common, which is always involving real life communication. Since I was young
and sociable, I loved dealing with people, and doing so in English kind of made me feel
confident and proud even though my English was not perfect.

There are also many other techniques I use to learn new vocabulary, such as sticking
up unknown glossary on the wall and pay only slight attention to them when I passed by, having
some apps, e.g. academic vocabulary and IELTS vocabulary, on my phone and memorize vocab
on there whenever I have spare time, waiting for the bus for instance. I also learn new
vocabulary and idioms from the book and online courses just to familiarize with as many words
as I can even though it is not possible to remember and apply them all in real life.

After graduating, I started working as a tour guide which gave me the opportunity to
fully apply my English language skills communicatively, especially by public speaking. Since I had
to deliver speeches, I happened to read more and more, especially books written in English
about Myanmar culture and other related books. From reading, I got not only to learn new
vocabulary, lexical chunks and interesting facts but also to apply them in my speech as much as
possible. Later on, when I had got very familiar with English language and western culture, I
happened to enjoy American TV shows, where I immersed the language by listening and
repeating new lexical chunks or idioms from the dialogs as well as accents and pronunciation,
to be able to speak out naturally like the actors in the show. Moreover, starting from then, I
read not only the books that I was supposed to read for work but also others for my enjoyment,
such as fiction books. By spending much time on reading fiction books, my lifestyle has
dramatically changed into calmer, more intelligent and expressive, and that is very fulfilling.
Because I am always learning something from a book I am reading, like the lifestyle of the
characters but also new vocabulary, descriptive usage and terms and the author’s style of
writing. In this way, my English language skills have exponentially developed without having to
deliberately seek for chances to practice them.

Five or six years ago, I took a French language class where I have learnt the linking
sounds system when there is a vowel sound. For example: je t’aime pronounces as /je teɪm/. I
started to spot that it is the same with the English language too. For instance, “wish I could”
would sound like /wɪʃaɪ kʊd/ but not /wɪʃ aɪ kʊd/ separately. So whenever there is vowel
sound, I practice to bound up with the previous sound and I realize that my pronunciation has
became more natural.

Later these years, since I am becoming a professional English language teacher, I focus
more on my language accuracy especially while giving instruction in class in view of vocabulary
enrichment. For vocabulary enrichment, I self-study on my mobile phone, take advance
vocabulary and idiom classes online and practice with course books. For language accuracy, I
concentrate on avoiding slips and research grammar whenever I am not fully sure about it. I am
also surrounded by English speaking people because of the nature of my work. My colleagues
and peers and foreign roommates speak English and, unlike before, when I only had to speak
English in class, the English language has become a second language rather than a foreign
language to me.
2. Choose two or three methods of language teaching and compare/discuss the merits or
otherwise of each. 

The two methods of language teaching that I am always familiar to are Grammar
Translation and Communicative teaching methods. I chose them because the former one is the
one I used to be taught as a child at the government schools and the later one is the one that I
always apply as a language teacher.

GTM (Grammar translation method), I find it very traditional and less effective.
Because firstly, the teacher does not encourage the interaction between students to students
and even the teacher to students’ interaction is barely present. Because the majority of the
time teacher is lecturing and students have to listen and note down without interacting with
anyone. Teacher will hardly ever ask ICQs and CCQs to check students’ understanding, instead
she/he might only ask “Do you understand?” which is not very specific to know what the
student get and what they do not.

Secondly, the majority of tasks are all about translation from second language to
mother language and vice versa. In my perspective, since in languages, there are several types
of usages, vocabulary, functions and grammar points to convey single meaning, the translated
version will not be consistent unless the teacher has clarified the target language before doing
the task. Another affect is that since students are supposed to focus on the grammar point in
writing, they will have lack of oral practice and as an outcome, when it comes to the real
situation to communicate, it can totally break down. But while writing, students will succeed
the task.

Speaking of writing and speaking, since oral communication and social interaction
comes first in using the language and commonly more important reason as well as being
grammatical or not is also not paid so much attention in day to day basic, teaching how to be
able to write grammatically is less reasonable than teaching communication by using the target

In the aspect of monitoring the learners and paying individual attention, it seems not
to be present in GTM. As it is, teacher’s knowledge on learners’ strengths and weaknesses will
be very limited which means teacher will not likely to know what area to focus on more and
which part to cut out. Moreover, the relationship between the teacher and student will be
stiffen and students tend to be very passive and submissive because of the absence of fun and
engaging atmosphere.

On the other hand, in communicative teaching method (CTM), grammar has less
priority but the appropriateness has because language is taught for communication. I totally
agree that the communication can break down if the appropriateness is absent but not being
grammatical. For example: when we apply for a job position, it would be unsuitable to start
with “Hi (first name of the employer)” but “Dear Sir/ Madan” or Dear Mr/Mrs (the last name of
the employer) will work much better. Likewise, there are our own codes and usage to
communicate with our best friends or family members which are restricted to use only for them
because those codes might sound weird or inappropriate to hear sometime to outsiders.

In the classroom teaching, teacher always reinforces the students to interact by using
the communicative tasks such as role plays, games, discussion, debate, pair/ group works. So
that students will have exposure to be able to apply the language in real life naturally.

In this method, the interaction is not only between students, and teacher and students
but also individual student and the teacher. While monitoring, teacher not only observe each
student’s preferences, strengths and weaknesses but also interact them by suggesting ideas,
correcting errors and providing the alternation when students are stuck with their
communication. As the result, students will unlikely to feel skeptical for the language they use
and note the errors and slips to avoid in the future.

Moreover, for giving feedback, it is given not only by the teacher to student but also
students themselves as well as by their peer. By the virtue of that communicative feedback,
students will attain better self-awareness and be more observant about the language by
monitoring to their peers.

Unlike the GTM which only assess the translation, the assessment in CTM has validity
and reliability since the course and materials are recognized by the international and reputable
universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. As it is, it has the different forms of learners’
friendly assessments such as multiple choice, cloze type, sentence ordering, transformation and
rephrasing for writing. In speaking, there are two types such as spoken interaction and spoken
production which are both useful for real life oral communication.

Next, while clarifying the language, there is no restriction or rules which means teacher
does not need to memorize the meaning or definition of the target language to deliver it in the
class but to adapt with his/her own form and language for the students to understand well.
Additionally, because of the asking concept checking questions, teacher absolutely gets to know
if the students understand the clarification right away.

For listening skills practice in CTM, students will get more exposure by listening to the
recording from the course book, teacher’s instruction, their classmates and themselves. In
contrast for GTM, students will have very low chance to listen to English language since
teacher’s instruction in mother tongue and no listening practice session from the course book.
To hear their classmates for the practice is barely present. Therefore, students’ listening skills
will be stagnant if the teacher uses grammar-translation approach.

Overall, as the learners have vivid reason to study the language which is based on the
communication, the CTM would be the major method to use in the class to boost the students’
exposure to be able to communicate by using the target language. However, according to the
circumstances where the classroom is lack of resources to convey the meaning or the teachers’
language and knowledge is very low, GTM should be present to express the exact meaning in
mother tongue to avoid the future confusion, save time and not to lose students’ attention for
long explanation while using the CTM as much as possible.