The art of teaching

Just like studying, there are many ways to teach and these are directly related to the learner’s acquisition of knowledge.

LEARNING is a life-long process that varies in its intensity depending on personal motivation, opportunities, the expectations of others, the need to know, and one’s financial and scholastic capacity.

Positive learning outcomes are maximised and the learning process is most effective when the learning environment is non-threatening, comfortable, adequately equipped, supportive and “owned” by the learner.

Learning is also most effective when it begins with the “Simple” and the “Known”, and sequentially proceeds to the “Complex” and the “Unknown”. This can be carried out by building on the foundation of a learner’s prior knowledge and “environmental” experiences.

It can be accelerated by using technology that enhances traditional auditory, visual and kinaesthetic teaching techniques, eg. computers, Power-Point presentations, videos, DVD’s and CD’s, tape recorders, video cameras, CD and DVD players, television, etc.

The learning process

Every learner should be seen as an individual and the teaching strategies used should, as much as possible, be learner-centred.

Initial teacher-direction and demonstration will gradually result in exploration and discovery on the part of the learner to the point where the learner “owns” the learning process.

In pursuing a learner-centred approach to teaching, tutoring and training, prominence must be given to the concept of the student being “an independent learner”.

In turn, the teacher, tutor or trainer should adopt the role of guide, facilitator, mentor, counsellor, adviser and the person to whom the student later turns to for confirmation, correction, conferring and commendation.

The objective of any learning process, especially the acquisition of English language skills, is the development, exploration, repair, reinforcement and on-going enhancement of conceptual understanding.

Providing opportunities for learners to think critically and creatively about the English language, to solve contextually-related problems, and to make appropriate decisions in relation to the use and function of words and constructions, are keys to achieving this goal.

Factors such as gender, socio-economic status, cultural and linguistic heritage — and even city and rural living — can influence and shape an individual’s attitude towards learning.

Developing a relationship and rapport with each learner is crucial for effective teaching.

The professional teacher needs to know as much as possible about his or her students: their full name (and nickname), family and cultural background, religion, special interests, personal likes and dislikes, pets, things they like to do, etc. In other words, a detailed, personal profile.

The 10 P’s of Teaching

Teachers and tutors should also take into account the 10 P’s of teaching:

i) Professionalism

ii) Purpose

iii) Planning

iv) Preparation

v) Profiling

vi) Presentation

vii) Punctuality

viii) Personality

ix) Persona

x) Perseverance

by Keith Wright, the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language.

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