You are on page 1of 2

Gokulananda Nandan Statement of Teaching Philosophy Teaching is grounded in three Cs: communication skill, creativity and cohesiveness.

This conviction springs from my teaching experience earned over five semesters at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Communication skill of an instructor lies at the heart of pedagogical paradigm because it facilitates establishing connection between students and instructors through scrupulous questioning and listening, which creates a supportive and respectful environment in the class. The success of a particular class is rooted in the fact that how well the instructor and the students complement each other. This is only possible if the second of three Cs, creativity, comes into the picture. His/her creativity and ability to make adjustment according to students motivation and understanding maximizes the impact of the class. And both of them: excellent communication skill and creativity establish the class as a cohesive entity, which help instructors and students get enlightened with insightful ideas, and the students eventually leave the class with a myriad of thoughts. Keeping in mind the values of these three Cs and the 20th century language teaching phenomena, which is known by Communicative language teaching (CLT) method, my class is always conducted in the target language and a student-centered learning environment is implemented through cooperative and collaborative group work in which the students communicate extensively among themselves on task-based exercises, and after finishing their task they give feedback to me or they discuss their work with other groups. In these exercises one of the language learning tools that I introduce is the discussion on cultural aspects of various hispanic regions like: the celebration ofDa de los Muertos in Mexico, the myth of Popol Vuh of Maya culture, the celebration of El Da de la Cruz in Panchimalco, Guatemala, the textile culture of Otavalo, Ecuador, etc. One of my popular lesson plans in this regard is to have them watch a video of the celebration of Dia de los Muertos and later, have them compare it with that of Halloween of the United States. In this way they get to hang around some realistic samples, get to know the cultures of Spanish speaking countries and get opportunity to speak in the target language. As a result, the boredom doesnt creep in their mind, and they get to taste near-native flavor of spanish language in the class. Thus, I apply a learning by doing 1 approach in my class which is based on the theory that suggests that a hands-on approach positively enhances a learners cognitive engagement2. It creates a positive and enjoyable environment for my students, which motivates them to participate actively in the class. In my class the students are not taught grammar explicitly, instead they are provided a context, a set of vocabulary, and a series of images through which they get an idea of what kind

Brandl, Klaus. Communicative Language Teaching in Action: Putting Principles to Work . Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. p.12. 2 Doughty, C.J., and M. Long. 2003. Optimal psycholinguistic environments for distance foreign language learning. Language Learning and Technology 7(3):5080.

of actions are happening, and eventually within these contexts they are introduced corresponding grammatical phenomenon. Let me illustrate an example. Before teaching por and para, I have them look at two pictures. The first one is of a couple entering a park through the main gate, and in the second one, the same couple passes by the same park. After seeing these two pictures they easily understand that the first one is illustrated for por and the second one for para. To use most of the time of the class in doing communicative activities I assign them homework on the previous day to learn vocabulary and the basic phenomenon of the particular grammatical structure. I also use various techniques like scaffolding and spiralling so that they can remember the set of vocabulary and grammar already done in the class. As far as my assessment method is concerned, I give importance to students daily class participation. They are also graded on quizzes, oral presentations, writing assignments, selfcorrection of mistakes made in those assignments, online homeworks and workbook homeworks. With all these tools and skills I create an amicable and learning atmosphere in my classroom, which is reflected on some students testimonials. One of them commented: His method of teaching Spanish is different from every other foreign language professor I have had, & he is the best teacher I have had, people should learn to teach from him. Another one said, Gokul is very good at making sure we all understand the material well and are prepared for the exams. In conclusion, I would say that since my teaching method is rooted in the 20th century foreign language teaching phenomena, my students can speak and think in the target language alongside writing and reading after the courses wind up.