I recently told you all about Haris Aziz’ blog entry on the Ten Commandments for Teachers, as penned by George Polya. In a TEFL context, these commandments are equally important, so here are the last 5 of the commandments.
6. Let them learn to guess
Spoon feeding your students the English language doesn’t help them to use their own minds. If your students learn to guess – word meaning, verb forms etc. – through an examination of the surrounding language and based on what they already know then they will get a feel for the language. As Haris pointed out, the key is to make educated guesses. Thinking in a foreign language requires considerable effort from your students so keep them motivated!
7. Let them learn proving
Proving is something specific to mathematics, but in the context of TEFL it can se said to be clear comprehension and capable use of new language. It requires logical thinking and confidence.
8. Look for useful features of the problem
Although Polya was talking about mathematical problems, in terms of TEFL a problem is new language. Your are trying to teach something that your students don’t know or understand. Show them how this new language works in the framework of English as a whole – if it is a grammatical issue, show them practical uses that they might already be familiar with; if it is new vocabulary and themes give them clear definitions and lots of opportunities to use any new vocabulary.
9. Do not give away the whole secret at once
Related to the first point about guessing (above), keeping your classes interactive and progressive can help your students to develop their knowledge steadily. For example, teaching them rules and principles will help them to think clearly about any new language, rather than telling them the answer to any question that they have.
10. Suggest but do not force
Your role as teacher is similar to being a guide. As Haris wrote in his blog, “keeping a student interested is better than putting too much pressure on him or her.” Lead the way for your students to master the English language – don’t force them to tackle linguistic issues that are too problematic for them. Pacing is important.
I’m sure you agree that these commandments are entirely valid for English teachers. So try to put them into practice and improve your teaching!