You are on page 1of 6

Rationale and Philosophy of Teaching

The following philosophies include some listening-specific insights, some

speaking-specific insights, and some insights that can be applied to both
skills. They are the guiding principles that I will hold on to when designing
courses for speaking and listening.
Listening practice should include exposure to world Englishes. The
intentional distribution of English through literature, media, and EFL
programs has been replaced by an uncontrollable spread by its users.
(Mesthrie & Bhatt, 2008) There are more speakers of English from the outer
and expanding circles of Kachrus Concentric Circles Model than of those in
the inner circle, enhancing the chances that the students I teach will be
using English with other non native speakers more than with inner circle
speakers. (Lee, 2012, p. 191) While students may have the misconception
that native speakers with no accent are the most authentic models, they
need to be made aware that real-world users of English are as authentic as
they come.
I hope to provide tools for my students to understand English content that
will expose them to a broader worldview. The reality is that exposure to
different views goes hand-in-hand with exposure to the different ways in
which people speak English. I believe that using world Englishes materials in
my classroom will develop learners who are more cross-culturally aware as
well as just better listeners in general. Noticing accents and alternative

structures can be difficult and continued practice can create a more informed
Listening and speaking skills should be integrated in order to reflect
natural communication. Listening and speaking actually belong in tandem as
most communication involves both skills. (Richards & Burns, 2012) While
there should be activities that isolate each skill in order to work on strategies
for improvement, students will benefit from being made aware when
listening and speaking are building off each other so they have a better
understanding of their own abilities. Working in pairs or groups can help
incorporate both skills as students must listen to their classmates in order to
know how to respond. A class that involves the development of both skills
will better prepare students for actually using these skills outside the
Students should be exposed to different types of listening materials and
speaking activities so that they can be successful listeners in a variety of
situations. This philosophy comes from Richards and Burns book on
listening, but I think it applies to speaking as well. Students have a variety of
needs when it comes to what they will be required to understand including
lectures, phone calls, casual conversations, public announcements,
discussions, podcasts, interviews, music. They also have a variety of needs
when it comes to speech situations they may find themselves in including
telephone calls, job interviews, chatting with friends, dinner parties, service
encounters, going to the doctor, etc. To make things more complicated, some

situations require interaction while others only require listening. These needs
should be considered in order to design lessons that include input and
activities that teach recognition as well as what to do with the information.
On a similar note, topics and tasks should be relevant and material should
be authentic to encourage authentic communication and authentic
communicators. I believe that much intrinsic motivation is built on interest.
Students are much more likely to become autonomous learners if they feel
the material relates to them and is something they have interest in. Folse
states, choosing a topic is not hard, but choosing a good topic that will
create a successful conversation or discussion is a very hard task for many
teachers. (2006, p. 19) Age, purpose for learning English, proficiency level
of students, and cultural backgrounds all need to be considered when
choosing topics. Letting the students have some say in the topics can have a
big impact on the language that is produced within the topic. Using authentic
materials, especially for adult learners, also plays a major role in developing
legitimate speakers and listeners of English. However, these materials need
to be chosen carefully so as to reflect i + 1.
Students should be provided with opportunities to use both bottom-up and
top-down processing in listening. Both of these strategies are extremely
important and just because a group of students is more comfortable with one
type doesnt mean all the focus should be put on the other type. I believe
that building on students preferences and comfort can be a way to scaffold
up to what you expect from them. Bottom-up processing, where students

attention is directed toward the language the sounds, words, and phrases
in order to decipher meaning, seems to be the dominant way to approach
information in listening. (Richards & Burns, 2012, p. 9) Top-down processing,
however, should also be incorporated into listening lessons. This approach
uses background knowledge of the world and of the type of text to develop
meaning. A proficient listener uses both of these processing tools together,
so providing practice in both is crucial.
Give students time to plan before being expected to produce. I believe
that students need an ample amount of time to plan or practice the language
before being asked to perform. While spontaneous speaking tests the
language, I think that the language class needs to be a place where students
are learning how to incorporate all the new material with their existing
language. By planning and practicing, students are stretching their
interlanguage and will have a better chance at successful output. In addition,
students output will generally be more target-like and complex after given
some time to think about it, and then hopefully these new structures and
complexities will take root in their speaking! (Folse, 2006, p. 49)
Teacher needs to build rapport with students and get to know them on a
personal level so that she can shape the course according to their needs,
and so they can feel comfortable enough to speak. Speaking in front of
peers, and especially in front of a native English speaker can feel extremely
threatening, and a threatening environment is not at all conducive to
learning. The teacher needs to prove to the students that their needs are at

the forefront of her mind. The communicative speaking classroom often

involves activities that may feel uncomfortable to EFL learners, like roleplays, debates, discussions of controversial issues, and the sharing of
opinions. Students might not be willing to participate in such activities if the
teacher hasnt established rapport with them. Its the teachers responsibility
to promote safety in the classroom so that learning can take place.

Folse, K.S. (2006). The art of teaching speaking: Research and pedagogy for

classroom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Lee, K.-Y. (2012). Teaching Intercultural English Learning/Teaching in World

Englishes: Some Classroom Activities in South Korea. English Teaching:
Practice and Critique, 11(4), 190


Mesthrie, R., & Bhatt, R. M. (n.d.). World Englishes-The Study of New

Linguistic Varieties.

Retrieved from
Richards, J. C., & Burns, A. (2012). Tips for teaching listening: A practical
approach. White Plains,
NY: Pearson Education.