by Beyza Nur Badem & Aynur Babacan
We were asked to find a school for observation for our Approaches in ELT course. We made the observation in a class at intermediate level. One of the most important reasons for selecting this class is that we would like to see more different teaching methods as much as we can. And we thought we could do that in a qualified school like METU prep-school. First, we selected the level of the class we would observe and then we went to the mentor teacher to talk about it. Contacting with the mentor teacher was not difficult. When we went to prep-school, we talked to her. She said it would be possible if we could take permission from the chair of department. Luckily, we were accepted.
As a whole school, it is very crowded and teachers are busy as far as we saw. they are always in an effort for lessons and they are making a great amount of endeavor to teach. In our opinion, the general atmosphere of the school is like high-school more than a university environment but there is no problem at all because of this atmosphere. We honestly think that the teacher and students in our observation class are really happy; they can have fun during the lesson by making jokes. The teacher is a very friendly person and also she treated us very nicely, too. She has such effective communication skills that students don’t get bored. Her being a friendly and communicative person makes the students feel comfortable. In general, all students are nice people and respectful to their teacher. We want to work in such a context because students are much more respecful and clever compared to many other students that we have seen before. And mostly because of the peaceful class environment, we want to work in a school like this.
Our mentor teacher graduated from Hacettepe University. She said ” I like teaching without making students bored so I generally talk about something funny when they are tired of the lesson.” She says that her favorite methods are DM and ALM. And we think she implements these methods successfully. She really cares about her students and pays attention to their problems. Her teaching philosophy is to teach by making practices. She enables students to understand the subject through these practices without distressing students.
Classroom atmosphere: In general, the classroom environment is very fun and lively. Both the teacher and students look like having fun during the lesson. There is no tension at all because the teacher and the students communicate effectively. Students never did something disrecpecful to their teacher. They did not have even a little discussion with each other. We would be very glad if we were a teacher in that class because the funny and respectful environment attracts me a lot. It would be more comfortable and delightful to teach the students who have a very high level of intellectuality. If we were a student in that class, we would feel very pleased. Because we would have such a nice teacher -who cares about her students very much- and classmates who are quite funny. We made ten hours observation in that class and we never felt uncomfortable even as a foreigner.
Student-teacher interaction: During our overall observation, we saw that the teacher and students had a strong ability to interact with each other. For instance, the teacher talks about their problems, tries to help them and also she talks about the daily issues. She behaves like a guide -like an orchestra leader- by enlightening their way; she shows the way of learning. We personally think that both the teacher and students talk equally; she gives them a chance to talk and express their ideas. On the other hand, students show respect and listen to her. As you can see, there is not a dominant one. We would like to point out the other roles of teacher. She always comes to the class with handouts and activities that were prepared before the lesson. The most significant points that we observed are these: She directed the class activities, encouraged students to participate in class and also corrected their mistakes immediately. Students were supposed to do their homework handouts and participate in class actively.
Medium of instruction: Teacher paid a lot of attention to use English during the lesson. Even if students asked questions in Turkish sometimes, the teacher answered in English. Almost all the time, she used English as medium of instruction. Moreover, she encouraged them to use English, too.
Approaches, methods and techniques used in the class: The teacher used a method which is mixture of direct method, audio-lingual method and communicative language teaching. We made this conclusion by considering the activities and some rules the teacher used.
She enabled students to make listening and speaking activities. A great amount of attention was given to pronunciation. Audio aids were used such as CD tape. Instructions were given in the target language and errors were corrected immediately to prevent the formation of bad habits. All these things points out the ALM.
Most of the time, the teacher uses “the target language”. Students were encouraged to think in the target language. And these things points out the DM. Also “paragraph writing activity” used in class points out the DM. And she made students understand the rules from given examples. (Inductive way of learning)
Before starting an activity, teacher generally asked some questions about the topic that requires students to express their ideas and communicate with each other. We think this may be a part of CLT. Also, at the beginning of each class they talk about daily issues. Also students communicate with each other besides the teacher.
Types of materials and activities used in the class: We think the most useful activity used in class were listening and speaking parts because language is for communication for me. In order to communicate, you should know how to speak and understand what you listen to. So as a material we can say the CD tape. And for each lesson the teacher gives handouts to practice the subject. They made speaking, listening, reading and writing activities. To be specific; fill in the blanks activities, note taking , listening, true/false, pair works, talking about an idea in groups of four or five and sharing the knowledge of that day’s reading topic with other students.
We would like to share some anectodes that show the strong relationship between the teacher and students. First, the scholarship results were announced and the teacher became more happy than students themselves. We think it was such a caressing behaviour that we got impressed much. Also, she brought some cookies for her students -like a mother- these things made me happy because we saw how much a teacher can be affectionate for her/his students. We really would like to be close to our students instead of putting distance.
OVERALL REFLECTION ON SCHOOL OBSERVATION
In our opinion, the observation is worth the effort even if it is a little bit hard. Because we have learnt how other approaches can be used rather than Grammar Translation Method. (As we were taught by mostly GTM before coming METU.) Actually, we don’t think we would change something if we were the teacher of that class due to the fact that the teacher is good at teaching, communicating with students and some other things. We quite like her teaching style; she encourages students to participate, helps them when they have difficulty in something, the workload she gave is appropriate and the most important point is that she gets on well with the students. There are many things we have learnt from this experience and we will implement some of them in our own teaching. For example, we will talk to our students about their problems, share their happy moments and everything. We will try to be a friend of them rather than an authoritarian figure who always gives commands. Instead of following some strict rules, we will try to make our students feel comfortable. Actually, we also got afraid of teaching profession in some ways such as directing the students. No matter how good you are at controlling, sometimes it can become hard to direct them. We hope we will deal with it somehow. One of the things this observation taught me is that making students feel comfortable is a crucial point. If they don’t feel relax, they can’t concentrate on the subject. And the result will be a failure.