English Language Teaching Techniques: A Discussion

*Pitri Raj Banstola

Abstract

English language teaching is discussed in terms of three related aspects such as approaches, methods and techniques. The terms are quite common but confusing because of their integrity. The learners and even teachers may often misuse them because of the overlap in the definition of the terms, and may lead to confusion. Therefore, focusing on differences among the terms, this article highlights the value of the techniques in ELT. It also analyses and interprets the techniques that are prescribed in a three-year bachelor degree course of English education program under Tribvuvan University after making an intensive observation on the prescribed courses. Finally, the article concludes with some personal feelings.

Background

English Language Teaching in Nepal is flourishing day by day. Teaching and learning English takes place in different levels and contexts such as in schools, universities,   language schools, workplaces, etc. Many studies have been carried out to make ELT effective in such different contexts with view to improve the situation. Teachers have been trained rigorously. Teacher trainers, material writers, syllabus designers participate in the workshops, seminars, and discussions organized at home and abroad. Native and non- native speakers of English do present papers and provide comments on them.   Orientations, disseminations, presentations and talks frequently take place in different situations. The veterans of ELT from home and abroad present plenary sessions which are the main attractions of the international conferences.

Slowly and gradually, the mode of ELT in Nepal is changing. Teachers are encouraged to use latest methodology instead of the traditional ones. Minimizing teacher’s talking time in the class room situation, they are trying to activate the students in the same situation. This is really a good initiation to make teaching English communicative. Avoiding the trend of using spoon feeding technique, teachers motivate, inspire and encourage their students to interact and work in pair and share in group. Engaging the students in meaningful interactions where they can listen and speak, teachers always try to develop communicative competence in them. It means that the teachers help them use appropriate language to perform particular task in a specific setting. That is in fact the language they teach.  Teachers are hardworking; they are really trying to catch the changing trends of ELT of the world. They are committed to the development of professionalism rather than working only for their livelihood.

The use of appropriate techniques makes language teaching effective. If we go through the definition, the term ‘technique’ means a special way of doing something in a particular situation. Applying various techniques as the situation demands, they perform different kinds of classroom activities. In the field of ELT, sometimes it is synonymously used with other two terms ‘method’ and ‘approach’. Definitely, there is a bit difference between them. An approach is theory about the nature of language and how languages are learnt. It is based on philosophy and psychology. Supporting this view, Harmer(2001:62) says, ‘An approach describes how people acquire their knowledge of and makes the statements about the conditions which will promote successful language learning.’  Therefore, it is the general view towards something.  On the other hand a method in language teaching implies different ways of teaching languages. This is an overall plan for the orderly presentation of language materials which makes use of different classroom activities, the techniques. Therefore, the method is an entire process of doing something and the technique is an instant activity which is designed for performing something effectively as again Harmer (2001:62) says, ‘ A method is  the practical realization of an approach.’ Finally it can be stated that the approach is the broadest of the terms; there can be many methods based on an approach and many techniques within a method. Therefore a method is broader than a technique. One method may consist of several techniques. Hence, a technique is a specific activity which is used to fulfill certain, immediate objectives in the classroom teaching. Therefore, as Richards. C & Renandya A ((2010:9) define, ‘Method was defined as an overall plan for systematic presentation of language based on a selected approach. It followed that techniques were specific classroom activities consistent with a method, and therefore in harmony with an approach as well’. Therefore, these three terms are different but somehow they are related to each other. 

Techniques Prescribed for Teaching English at Bachelors’ Level in Nepal

After going through the English courses of bachelors’ level, the writer has tabulated all the techniques that are prescribed, and tried to analyze course-wise and interpret the data.

Table 1

Eng. Edu.  311

General English (Compulsory English)

Methods /Instructional Techniques

i.                 Lecture and Discussion

ii.                Demonstration

iii.              Presentation

iv.              Explanation and illustration

v.                Group and individual works

vi.              Project  works

vii.            Self-study

 

The table 1 introduces compulsory English for the students of B. Ed. first year at Tribhuvan University. And, it also exhibits the techniques suggested for the course. The Eng. Edu. 311 is General English. It is compulsory for all the students at this level. Lecture and discussion, demonstration, presentation, explanation and illustration, group work and individual work, project work and self- study are the  suggested techniques. All the techniques are specific. Beside the prescribed techniques, teachers may frequently use translation and question answer as they deem proper to use considering the level and understanding of the students.

Table 2

Eng. Edu.  316

Foundations of Languages and Linguistics (Specialization I)

Methods /Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Demonstration

iii.              Explanation and illustration

iv.              Group and individual works

v.                 Presentation

vi.              Project  works

Table 2 familiarizes Eng. Edu. 316 that is Foundation of Language and Linguistics as specialization I for one academic year that demonstrates the list of techniques suggested to implement in the classroom teaching. The course is theoretical as well as practical in nature. The prescribed list of the instructional techniques for the course comprises the techniques such as lecture and discussion, demonstration, explanation and illustration, group and individual works, presentation and project works. Except self-study, all the techniques of this list are exactly the same to the list of Eng.Edu. 311. The self- study technique should not have been excluded from the list as teachers always need to encourage the higher level students to the technique of self study.

Table 3

Eng. Edu.  317

Reading Writing and Critical Thinking (Specialization II)

Methods /Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and Discussion

ii.                 Demonstration

iii.              Explanation and illustration

iv.              Group and individual works

v.                 Project  works

vi.              Presentation

vii.           Self-study

The table 3 introduces   specialization II   and a list of the prescribed techniques for B.Ed. first year. The code given to this course is Eng.  Edu. 317 which is named as Reading, Writing and Critical Thinking. All the techniques suggested are similar to other two courses. Since it is reading, writing and critical thinking itself,   question answer technique could have been suggested.

Table 4

Eng. Edu.  323

Expanding Horizon in English (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.       Lecture

ii.   Discussion

iii. Self-study

iv.   Book Talk

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit III – V and XII – Presentation

Unit IX – Project work 

Expanding Horizons In English is prescribed for the three- year bachelor of English Education Program at Tribhuvan University. Eng. Edu. 323 is the code given to this course. The text book Expanding Horizon in Englishfocuses on Humanities, Social Sciences, Human Rights and Freedom, Education and language Teaching, Globalization and Postmodernism, Writing from West and east, Masterpieces, war and Piece, Travel and Adventure, Health and Medical Science, Sports and Entertainments, Science and Technology, and Nature Ecology and Environment. It seems to be a great challenge not only for students but also for the teachers because it is much complicated for being a heterogeneous and diversified course.  It has to be dealt critically. The extensive use of internet is a must for both the teachers and students. The general and specific techniques are suggested. Lecture, discussion and self study, and book talk are suggested as general techniques. Specifically, presentation technique is suggested to be used for some units that deal with travel and adventure. Very interestingly, the key techniques such as demonstration, explanation and illustration, group work and individual work which are not prescribed in this course. Altogether six, comparatively, a less number of techniques are suggested. However, the prescription in a specific way is a new initiation which gives crucial idea for teachers to select a suitable technique for a particular unit.

Table 5

Eng. Edu.  391

English Language Teaching Methods (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.       Lecture

ii.   Discussion

iii. Demonstration

B.     Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit IX – Project work

Unit V – X – Practical activities and presentation

The Table 5 briefly introduces the course English Language Teaching Methods, shortly known as ELTMs, popularly called as Methods and displays the prescribed list of techniques for Eng. Edu. 391. This is purely theoretical course and it shades light to the entire education faculty as the methods suggested may well be applied to other fields of learning activities. It Introduces learner and teachers, learning principles, approaches methods and techniques, language skills, testing and ELT materials and activities, etc. Dividing these techniques into two categories: general and specific, only six techniques such as lecture, discussion and demonstration can generally be applied for all the units; more specifically, practical activities and presentation are suggested for units five, six , seven, eight, nine and ten. Project work is suggested especially for unit nine. . Surprisingly, explanation and illustration seem to be more useful techniques for a theoretical course of this kind which are missing from the list. Even group work and individual work are not included which should not have been because the higher level courses need a variety of techniques.

Table 6

Eng. Edu.  321

English for Communication (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.          Lecture

ii.        Discussion

iii.       Demonstration

B.     Specific Instructional Techniques

Role play and Group/pair work

 

Eng. Edu. 321 is the course namely English for Communication. It is an annual course for the students of B. Ed. second year who are specializing English. This is a course on communicative English with a focus on developing students’ communicative competence in the use of English language.  One of the objectives of the course is to expose the students to the language used in different social set ups. Regarding the teaching techniques for the course, it is obvious that lecture, discussion and demonstration are suggested. However, demonstration seems to be more appropriate because the students have to demonstrate in different episodes.

Specific instructional techniques are role play, group work and pair work. Role play and pair work are the most appropriate techniques since the content demands different roles  to be performed  in pair. Presentation, explanation, illustration and individual work are excluded from the list.

Table 7

Eng. Edu.  331

Literature for Language Development (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.         Lecture and discussion

ii.        Self-study

iii.       Demonstration

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit III – Role play and dramatization

Unit I, II and III – Presentation                                                                                      Unit II and III – Project work                                                                                                     Unit I and III – Group and individual works

Eng. Edu. 331 is English for Language Development. Surely, theoretical course package is designed to develop students’ linguistic competence through literature. The list of teaching techniques for this course comprises two categories. The first category is general instructional that includes lecture, discussion, demonstration and self-study. They are instructional techniques. All these techniques are much useful for teaching this course.  The second category consists of six techniques viz., role play and dramatization, presentation, project work and group and individual work. They are suggested to be applied to certain units. What is important to note is that explanation and illustration, group work and individual work are surprisingly excluded from both the lists.

Since the course is literary the different genres as poetry, prose and drama are to be explained and illustrated individually and these techniques could have been included into the list.

Table 8

Eng. Edu.  332

English for Business Communication (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Demonstration

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit I – IV Role play

Unit VIII – Presentation

Unit X – Report writing

Eng. Edu. 332 is English for Business Communication. This is one of the elective courses for the students of third year which aims at developing business communication skill. The list of instructional techniques suggests only five techniques such as lecture and discussion, demonstration, role play, presentation and report writing. Among the techniques, lecture and discussion and demonstration are prescribed in general, and as such they can be optionally applied in the classroom situation. Role play is prescribed for units  one, two, three and four.. In the same way, presentation is for unit seven and report writing is for unit ten. Report writing is newly introduced in this course. Explanation and illustration, group work and individual work are not in the list. Teaching experience suggests that these techniques shouldn’t be excluded from the list. Suggesting greater number of the techniques never harms but gives varieties to choose from. However, introducing the report writing is noble and fine.

Table 9

Eng. Edu.  333

English for Mass Communication (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Explanation and illustration

iii.              Self- study

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques                                                                 Unit II – VI – Project Work

C.   Unit I and II Group and individual work

Eng. Edu. 333 is the course entitled English for Mass Communication. This is an introductive course which aims at developing the students’ ability to analyze the English language used in different forms.  Even this course follows the trend of prescribing the instructional techniques in two categories: general and specific. As a normal trend, lecture and discussion, explanation and illustration and self-study are the techniques in general. More specifically,  project work is prescribed for units two, three, four and five and group and individual works are prescribed for only units one and three. All the techniques are appropriately prescribed and the prescriptions for the project work for particular units are most appropriately suggested. Finally, demonstration and presentation should not have been excluded since there are so many situations in which the use of these techniques would have been more appropriate.

Table 10

Eng. Edu.  335

Academic Writing (Specialization)

B.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Explanation and illustration

D.   Specific Instructional Techniques                                                                 Unit II and IV – Project works

Unit IV – Group and individual assignments

Eng. Edu.  335 is Academic Writing, an elective course for the bachelor’s level students in third year. The course aims at developing academic writing skills of the students. The list of prescribed techniques of this course consists of a lesser number of techniques than other courses though it follows the trends of prescribing the techniques in specific and general way. Lecture and discussion, and explanation and illustration are the techniques that are prescribed for all the units in general. More specifically, the project work is suggested for units two and four and group and individual assignments have been suggested for unit four. This also shows the trend of minor inclusion and exclusion of the techniques.

Table 11

Eng. Edu.  336

Teaching English to Young Learners (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Demonstration

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit I, IV, V, VI – Group works, Pair works, Project works and presentation

Unit VII– X – Dramatization, Role play, Storytelling, Discussion

Eng. Edu.  336 is Teaching English to Young Learners, which is an introductory course on teaching English to young learners. It aims at equipping the students with required skills to deal with challenges of teaching English as foreign language to young and very young learners.

Lecture and discussion and demonstration are the techniques that are prescribed in the general and group works, pair works, project works and presentation are prescribed for unit tow to five in a specific way. For unit seven to ten dramatization, role play and story telling and discussion techniques are suggested. Dramatization seems to be new initiation in this course.

Table 12

Eng. Edu.  337

Translation Theories and Practice (Specialization)

A.   General  Instructional Techniques

i.                   Lecture and discussion

ii.                 Demonstration

iii.              Self- study

B.   Specific Instructional Techniques

Unit I, II, III – Presentation

Unit IV – VI – Project work

Unit VII- Group and individual works

Unit VI – Practical works

Eng. Edu.  337 is Translation Theories and Practice, a basic course in translation, aims at providing an introduction to both historical as well as practical aspects of translation studies. Though it is a new dimension in the field of ELT, there is no newness in the list of prescribed techniques. Following the traditional trend of technique prescription, the prescribed techniques are categorized in two general and specific lists. Lecture and discussion, and demonstration and self- study are prescribed in general to be used for all the units. The specific instructional technique list consists of presentation for units one , two and three; project work is for units  four to six; group and individual works for units  one and eight and finally practical works for unit seven.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the effectiveness of English language teaching depends on the techniques used in the classroom teaching. In general Lecture and discussion, demonstration, presentation, explanation and illustration, group work and individual work, project work and self- study, book talk, practical activities and presentation, role play, pair work, dramatization, report writing and story telling are suggested in the courses. They have the highest level of frequency. In addition, techniques such as question answer, brain storming, buzz session, problem solving, student interaction, paper presentation, inquiry and question answer , library work, summarization, guest speech, article review, library visit, film show, survey,etc. could have been suggested so that teachers could use them effectively in different situations.

References

Harmer, J. (2001) The practice of English language teaching.London: Longman

Richard, C. & Rnandya, A.( 2010) methodology in language teaching.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Advertisements

2 responses

  1. Gopal Prasad Panthi | Reply

    Dear Sir
    Good morning
    Thank for it.
    Warm regards.
    Gopal Prasad Panthi
    NELTA/Arghakhanchi/Nepal
    Mobile 0977 9857028103
    Email : scdcgopal@gmail.com
    Email: scdcgopal@yahoo.com
    Skype: gopalprasadpanthi23

    Like

  2. Dear Sir Good morning Thank for the document.

    *Warm regards.*

    *Gopal Prasad Panthi*

    *NELTA/Arghakhanchi/Nepal*

    *Mobile 0977 9857028103*

    *Email : scdcgopal@gmail.com *

    *Email: scdcgopal@yahoo.com * *Skype: gopalprasadpanthi23*

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: