Theory, Approach, Method, Techniques in Teaching and Learning English

Theory of Teaching

    John Dewey, an American philosopher, and perhaps the most influential educator of the 20th century, once wrote, " Since growth is the characteristic of life, education is all one with growing; it has no end beyond itself. The criterion of the value of school education is the extent in which it creates a desire for continued growth and supplies means for making the desire effective in fact." (Democracy and Education)
I believe the goal of education is essentially a process of creating lifelong learners through developing within the student a continued desire to learn. This means that individuals engage themselves in the role of an active learner through their own intrinsic motivation, to expand and grow, making the most for himself, his surroundings, and circumstances. Where can we begin?
It is on the grounds of developing a student's Receptivity that the educational process begins. This is accomplished within a few basic principles: Awakening student interest, Teaching by example, and Presenting profound content within the discipline.
Awakening student interest

During my early field experience I discovered through interviewing that Art was the favorite class among many students. Students said it was "engaging," but they weren't clear as to the purpose of taking Art in school.
I understand why the students were engaged. Creating art is so enjoying to life because it is the expression of one's self, the expression of life. The student as an artist puts his heart, mind, and feelings into his creation and this is enjoyable because he is expressing his self, his love and his happiness. In his engagement, the student stands as a creator, however so small. As creator and being an embodiment of creation himself, on some level then he is telling through his art, from his heart, the story of creation.
On the other hand, without a purpose, without an aim for achievement and fulfillment, there is no receptivity. It is good to always bring out the value of what the students are learning. What is the purpose of this? Why is this useful and interesting? By knowing this we awaken student interest.
I believe its good to begin class with a question, something that relates the topic being taught to something in the students' lives. For example, I might explain to students how music videos involve a great array of artists: musicians, choreographers, set and clothing designers, graphic artists, light crews, photographers and film artists, and the computer people who put it all together. Do these artists whether it be in the clothes, sets, lights, etc. create a mood or project a feeling within a video? How can you create a composition that will portray a particular mood?
Whereas Dewey emphasized the idea of 'Reflective Thought' where students connect and evaluate new knowledge in light of their own existing understanding, I would like to develop my teaching style around lessons that use Problem-based learning. This approach is student-centered, intrinsically motivated, and it allows the students to develop self-directed learning through investigating and experimenting in a variety of art media. Answers vary and students' creativity is enhanced.
Teaching by example
As teachers we hold many roles, but mainly, we are models for the students. They are influenced by whom we are. The standards we set, they follow. Our attitude should always be uplifting and nourishing to the student while we guide them toward knowledge, action, achievement, and fulfillment.
I was fortunate enough to have a cooperating teacher, Mr. Evans, who greeted each student with a handshake and a smile as they entered his classroom. If he missed a student, the student would come and say "Mr. Evans you forgot to shake my hand." Then with a bigger smile, and firmer handshake, Mr. Evans replied, "Well I'm sorry. How are you doing today?"
Just this simple expression of love and a smile toward the students encouraged them at the very start. This is how to enliven receptivity. We should always project calm steadiness. Never judge a student on the basis of his negativity.
I had one student during my student teaching that worked quietly, but with a poor attitude. As with many students I would make suggestions as to how to make technical improvements in her work, but in each instance I received nothing more than shrugged shoulders and a huff. In asking my cooperating teacher I discovered her home life was not ideal. So I began altering my approach to her by deciding that more important than improving in a technical skill that she'll probably never use out of this class, I began to make less suggestions and focus more on her happiness in class. It worked great. I continually complimented her work without being attached to the product. 'Enjoy and accomplish more'. Once she realized I was less concerned with the end product and more on her personal development, she began to smile at me and actually bring her work to show me how proud of it she was.
As an Art Teacher it is very important that I remain positive and never do anything to damage the fine feelings of my students. I'm not so concerned about teaching technical skills as with many Art Teachers, but more with cultivating a continued desire for learning by developing the student and the process of creating.
Art work by Abigail Armstrong 6th grade
Presenting profound content
'What we see we become.' It is very important that in developing receptivity we present content in our discipline that is profound, enriching, and uplifting. This doesn't mean we don't teach students about the wars and hardships of man, but we do it in a way that emphasizes higher values for the students to follow. They are exposed each day to negativity and violence. Why focus on it in the classrooms?
For example, instead of telling students how Vincent Vangogh cut off his ear in rage through an argument with a friend and how he lived in an asylum, I would explain how Vangogh was one of the most famous artists. He had an awesome way of seeing color and an amazing ability to capture what he saw quickly with great texture and excitement.
Students are looking for heroes. We see this in the movies, 'Spiderman', 'Star Wars', and 'Men in Black'. Give students heroes within each discipline in school. In presenting profound knowledge, introduce students to the great people in that field. Seeing that there is a living embodiment of the highest qualities of man, the student might become convinced that he too could rise to that level of greatness in his own life.
I believe the goal of education is essentially a process of creating lifelong learners through developing within the student a continued desire to learn. This is achieved by starting with the development of the students' receptivity; awakening student interest, teaching by example, and presenting profound content. This is the beginning to fostering a continued desire for growth in and outside the classroom.

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and


Crib sheet A provides an overview of the characteristics of a learning activity.

Description of a Learning Activity

An interaction between a learner or learners and an environment (optionally including content

resources, tools and instruments, computer systems and services, ‘real world’ events and objects) that

is carried out in response to a task with an intended learning outcome (Beetham 2004)

Learning activities are achieved through completion of a series of tasks in order to achieve intended

learning outcomes. We have defined the components which constitute a learning activity as:

The context within which the activity occurs

; this includes the subject, level of difficulty, the

intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takes place. Learning

outcomes are mapped to Bloom’s taxonomy of learning outcomes and grouped into three types:

cognitive, affective and psychomotor and are what the learners should know, or be able to do, after

completing a learning activity; for example they might be required to be able to: understand,

demonstrate, design, produce or appraise.

The learning and teaching approaches adopted.

These are grouped according to Mayes and

de Frietas’ (2004) three categories – associative, cognitive and situative.

The tasks undertaken

, which specifies the type of task, the (teaching) techniques used to support

the task, any associated tools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the

assessments associated with the learning activity.

The glossary defines a selected few teaching approaches and techniques where we feel a little

explanation may be of use to the practitioner.

Web page: Mayes, T. and S. de Freitas (2004). Review of e-learning frameworks, models and theories:

JISC e-learning models desk study, JISC.


Web page:

Beetham, H. (2004). Review: developing e-learning models for the JISC pracititioner

communities: a report for the JISC e-pedagogy programme, JISC.

(under work package 1)

Acknowledgement: This document has been repurposed from the work of Karen Fill of the

DialogPlus project.

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


Action research

With the Action research model, real world problems are discussed and experiences shared, leading to

action and creative solutions.

Web page:

Action Research Guide

Book: Marquardt, M. J., (1999)

Action Learning in Action, Consulting Psychologists Press.

Active learning

Active learning requires that students do things and think about what they are doing.


Active Learning in Higher Education

Reference: Stiles, M.J., and Orsmond, P., Managing Active Student Learning with a Virtual Learning

Environment., in

Educational Development Through Information and Communications Technologies,

Fallows, S.J.and Bhanot, R., Kogan Page, 2002

Active Learning


Activity theory

Activity theory, based on the work of Vygotsky, consists of a set of basic principles [which] include

object-orientedness, the dual concepts of internalization/externalization, tool mediation, hierarchical

structure of activity, and continuous development.

Source and further information:

Activity Theory pages, Carbon, M. (2004)

Answer Garden

A form of vicarious learning originating in the 1990 paper by Ackerman and Malone. Answer gardens

are developed in which "snapshots" of learning can be reused. For example concepts or problems discussed

can be added to an answer garden to allow these ideas and concepts for further development.

Source: M.S. Ackerman, T. W. Malone. Answer Garden: A Tool for Growing Organizational Memory.Proc.

of the Conference on Office Information Systems,Cambridge,MA,1990


As embraced by the UK's Modern Apprenticeship schemes, apprenticeship can be described as "a social

theory of learning in which young learners (newcomers) are conceptualised as 'legitimate peripheral

participants' who learn by participating first peripherally and gradually more fully in communities of

practitioners", Unwin, L.,

Lifelong learning in workplace settings: the case of the young worker

See also: Fuller, Alison and Unwin, Lorna (2003)

Creating a Modern Apprenticeship: a critique of the

UK's multi-sector, social inclusion approach.

Journal of Education and Work, 16 (1), 5-25.

Web page:

Presentations & papers from the International Conference on apprenticeship, London,

January 2004.

Articulate reasoning

Students articulate reasoning via writing, speaking etc.


Associative Learning & Teaching approaches rely on linking recognition of past situations and/or

experiences to establish and build on rules and/or processes that have previously produced satisfying


A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques



Behaviourist approaches are based on the work of Pavlov, Watson, Skinner and the concepts of 'operant

conditioning' and 'shaping behaviour'. More recently, Gagne's work in the field of instructional design

has been influential. For further information see: Gagne, R. M. (1992)

Principles of instructional design.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 4th edition.

There is much debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the teacher-centredness of the

behavioural approach. See for example Section 4 in

this online paper.


Cognitive Learning & Teaching approaches attempt to integrate new learning into the learner's existing

knowledge base.

Cognitive apprenticeship

"In addition to the traditional apprenticeship’s three primary components of modeling, coaching, and

fading, Cognitive Apprenticeships have the instructor verbalize the activity while they are modeling it

and verbally coach the student during her completion of the task." Seitz, R., short paper,



Cognitive scaffolding

Cognitive scaffolding is a teaching strategy that was cleverly named for the practical resemblance it

bears to the physical scaffolds used on construction sites. The strategy consists of teaching new skills

by engaging students collaboratively in tasks that would be too difficult for them to complete on their

own. The instructor initially provides extensive instructional support, or scaffolding, to continually assist

the students in building their understanding of new content and process. Once the students internalize

the content and/or process, they assume full responsibility for controlling the progress of a given

task. The temporary scaffolding provided by the instructor is removed to reveal the impressive permanent

structure of student understanding (Herber and Herber, 1993, pp. 138-139).



Collaborative learning

Collaborative learning is "an instruction method in which students at various performance levels work

together in small groups toward a common goal. The students are responsible for one another's

learning as well as their own. Thus, the success of one student helps other students to be successful."

Gokhale, A. A. (1995)

Collaborative Learning Enhances Critical Thinking, Journal of Technology



Web page:

Collaborative Learning Theory

Communities of practice

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger used the term ‘communities of practice’ to refer to an organisational

phenomenon they identified as being a feature of the development of social groupings that had a particular

need or desire to transfer skills and practices from one member to another (Lave and Wenger:

1991). Examples of CoPs include the organisations of Ancient Greek craftsmen and the medieval guilds

of Europe. In such communities, apprentices learned from their masters until they were competent

enough to work on their own account, eventually becoming masters themselves. Perhaps the most frequently

cited modern CoP is that of the Xerox photocopier repair technicians (Brown and Duguid: 1991)

who were the focus of research by Julian Orr (1996). Arguably, Orr’s original work remains the most

definitive on communities of practice, despite the fact that he never used the term, he referred to them

as the ‘technician community’ or the ‘service community’. But exactly what is a community of practice?

Lave and Wenger initially described a community of practice as: ‘a set of relations among persons, activity

and world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping CoPs’ (1991). The idea

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


is further developed in subsequent publications by Wenger and is, essentially, a social entity recognised

as such by its members who are bound together in a sense of joint enterprise that emerges from a mutual

understanding of a problem, or issue, and a desire and commitment to solve it. The ‘copier technicians,

for example, were presented with a common set of technical problems they would take as a collective

challenge to their intellectual capacity as problem solvers. Through their participation in this

self-organised joint solution making, individuals gain a sense of shared identity with fellow technicians

in an occupational community focused on its work and not the organisation that employed them. Later,

the concept becomes much more aligned with knowledge management, and their function or purpose is

described as building and exchanging knowledge, and developing the capabilities of the membership. In

contrast, the purpose of a team is to accomplish a given task, and that for a work group is to deliver a

product or service (Wenger and Snyder: 2000).


According to Etienne Wenger (1998), a community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

• What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members.

• How it functions - mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity.

• What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities,

artefacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time. (see, also Wenger

1999: 73-84)

Web page: Communities of practice

Web page: Etienne Wenger Communities of Practice: Learning as a social system

Conceptualisation cycle

Professor Terry Mayes examines how different learning activities support students' understanding of

new concepts and the revision of erroneous concepts. This is achieved in three stages, known as the

Conceptualisation Cycle:

At the conceptualisation stage, students are exposed to other people's

ideas or concepts (for example in traditional lectures or accessing content on the WWW).

At the construction


students apply these new concepts in the performance of meaningful tasks. However,

it is only

at the dialogue stage, in the performance of tasks in which when these new concepts are

tested during conversation with tutors and peers, that learning takes place. The feedback provided enables

students' erroneous conceptions to be resolved.

In his theory, Mayes suggests that each of the three levels of learning activity can be supported by

three different classifications of courseware, or online material intended to promote students learning,

into three categories:

• Primary Courseware - to support the presentation of content. This may involve interaction - e.g.,

simulations, ``drill and practice'', virtual worlds.

• Secondary Courseware - to support the doing tasks. This includes use of wordprocessors etc, plus

software designed to support exploration of concepts ``mindtools'' and problem solving skills (e.g.,


• Tertiary Courseware - In general this includes software that supports learning dialogues, through

communication. Maye's sometimes restricts the term to mean software that allows the ``re-use'' of

products of past learning experiences.

Web page: Learning Technology and Groundhog Day

Constructivist based design

This approach draws on the work of Bruner and others who believe that learning is an active process

where learners construct new ideas through the use of their knowledge and understanding.

Reference: Bruner, J., (1960)

The Process of Education. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University


Web page:

Characteristics of Constructivist Learning & Teaching

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques



"Historically,argumentation or debate is one of the cornerstones of the teaching provided in occidental

universities. One would expect that the ability to argue with respect to a specific point of view reveals a

deeper form of understanding of the domain of discourse." Baker, M.J.(1998)

The function of

argumentation dialogue in cooperative problem-solving.

In F.H. vanEemeren, R. Grootendorst, J.A. Blair

& C.A. Willard (Eds),

Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Argumentation (ISSA'98).

Amsterdam, pp. 27-33.


The didactic model is based on transmission of knowledge, explicit instructional goals, objectives,

content, and expectations.

Possible resources: Rosenshine, B. (1986). Synthesis of research on explicit teaching.



, 43(7), 60-69.

Webpage of

Direct Instruction Resources

Elaboration theory

Elaboration theory (ET) is a model for sequencing and organizing courses of instruction. Source and

more information:

ISD Knowledge Base / The Elaboration Theory

Based largely on the work of Reigeluth, the approach suggests starting from simple concepts and

building on them to bring the learners to mastery of the more complex.

Reference: Reigeluth, C.M., (1999). The elaboration theory: Guidance for scope and sequence

decisions. In C.M. Reigeluth (ed.),

Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of

instructional theory

, volume ii. (pp. 425-459). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

E-moderating framework

‘Five-stage’ model for the moderation online learning communities originally proposed by Gilly Salmon

in 2000. The model consists of the following five phases of online activity: access and motivation; online

socialisation; information exchange; knowledge construction; and development. Here’s a summary:

Individual access and the ability of participants to use Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) are

essential prerequisites for conference participation (stage one, at the base of the flights of steps). Stage

two involves individual participants establishing their online identities and then finding others with

whom to interact. At stage three, participants give information relevant to the course to each other. Up

to and including stage three, a form of co-operation occurs, i.e. support for each person’s goals. At

stage four, course-related group discussions occur and the interaction becomes more collaborative. The

communication depends on the establishment of common understandings. At stage five, participants

look for more benefits from the system to help them achieve personal goals, explore how to integrate

CMC into other forms of learning and reflect on the learning processes.

Each stage requires participants to master certain technical skills (shown in the bottom left of each

step). Each stage calls for different e-moderating skills (shown on the right top of each step). The ‘interactivity

bar’ running along the right of the flight of steps suggests the intensity of interactivity that

you can expect between the participants at each stage. At first, at stage one, they interact only with

one or two others. After stage two, the numbers of others with whom they interact, and the frequency,

gradually increases, although stage five often results in a return to more individual pursuits.


Book: Salmon, G. (2004) E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online.

Follow up with Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


Gilly Salmon’s 5-stage framework for e-moderation


Also know as enquiry-based learning (EBL), this approach requires that content, teaching methods and

assessment all encourage students to research, discover and construct their own knowledge and


HEA guide available here:

Guide to Curriculum Design: Enquiry Based Learning

Experiential learning

Experiential learning, based on the work of Piaget, Lewin, Kolb and others, requires that learners reflect

on experience, devise, and subsequently test, general rules.

Book: Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Web page:

Experiential Learning ... on the Web, Greenaway, R. (2004)

Goal-based scenarios

Goal-based scenarios, such as simulations or role play, use skills based learning to achieve specified

learning outcomes.

Article: Schank, Roger, C (1992)

Goal-Based Scenarios


A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


The fishbowl is a special form of small group discussion. Several members representing differing points

of view meet in an inner circle to discuss the issue while everyone else forms an outer circle and listens.

At the end of a predetermined time, the whole group reconvenes and evaluates the fishbowl discussion.

Groups may also take turns in being observers or observed.


Another definition from public service management in Wales.

Ice breaker

Icebreakers are used to facilitate introductions and warm-ups, to introduce the topic of a meeting or

training or to facilitate team building. They can also be used within established groups to facilitate

discussion on a chosen topic.

Instructional system design

Based largely on the work of Gagne, this approach recommends different types of instruction are

appropriate for different types and levels of learning.

Reference: Gagne, R. M. (1992)

Principles of instructional design. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 4th


See also this online resource: Bostock, S. (2003)

Courseware Engineering - an overview of the

courseware development process.

Intelligent tutoring systems

Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) have four components: the domain model, the student model, the

teaching model, and a learning environment or user interface. The system "selects a problem and

compares its solution with that of the student and then it performs a diagnosis based on the

differences. After giving feedback, the system reassesses and updates the student skills model and the

entire cycle is repeated." Source and more information:


Books: Sleeman, D. H. & Brown, J. S. (Eds.). (1982).

Intelligent Tutoring Systems. New York: Academic


Wenger, E. (1987).

Artificial Intelligence and Tutoring Systems: Computational and

CognitiveApproaches to the Communication of Knowledge.

Los Altos, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Paper: Kinshuk, & Patel, A. (1997)

A conceptual framework for Internet based Intelligent Tutoring


, in Behrooz, A. (ed.) (1997) Knowledge Transfer (Volume II), pAce, London, UK, pp117-124.

Learning cycle

Experiential Learning Cycles are models for understanding how the process of learning works. They are

distinct from other models of learning, such as behavioral models or social learning models, in two notable


Experiential Learning Cycles treat the learner's subjective experience as of critical importance in the

learning process. ELCs draw on experiential education principles, which are largely based on the educational

philosophy of John Dewey (1920's-1950's).

Experiential Learning Cycles propose an iterative series of processes which underlies learning. Depending

on the model, there is anywhere between one stage (experience alone) through to six stages of

learning to be considered. Experiential Learning Cycles are commonly used to help structure

experience-based training and education programs.

One formulation of the 5 E's (engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate) learning cycle gives possible

activities matched to each phase of the cycle. Modelling activities may be integrated into a learning cycle

paradigm, so that students become engaged by a demonstration and discussion, conduct prelimi-

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


nary explorations with the model, seek to explain the model's behavior, extend it to include related behavior,

and evaluate their own learning. Perhaps the most well known of learning cycle theories is Kolb’s

Experiential Learning Cycle from 1984.

Website and source:Learning Cycle Instructional Model

Website and source: Experiential Learning Cycles: Overview of 9 Experiential Learning Cycle Models

Website: The Learning Cycle as a Tool for Planning Science Instruction


Learners investigate a specific scenario either individually or in groups & propose solutions or determine

what skills and/or information they would need to manage or solve the problem(s).

Book: Savin-Baden, M., (2000).

Problem-based Learning in Higher Education, Buckingham: Open

University Press.

Website: the

PBL Clearinghouse, a collection of peer reviewed problems and articles to assist educators

in using problem-based learning.

Project-based learning

Project based learning is a "systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge

and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and

carefully designed products and tasks".

Source and more information:

Project Based Learning Handbook (2002) Buck Institute for Education.

Reciprocal teaching

Reciprocal teaching entails the teacher and/or learners take turns leading a dialogue. There are four key

activities: predicting, questioning, summarising and clarifying.

Articles: Palincsar, A.S. and Brown, A.L. (1984) Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and

comprehension-monitoring activities.

Cognition and Instruction, 2, pp. 117-175.

Rosenshine, B. and Meister, C. (1994) Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research.

Review of

Educational Research,

Vol. 64, No. 4, pp. 479-530.


RECIPROCAL TEACHING: Questions and Answers

Reflective practitioner

"Reflective practitioners in academic environments will frequently think about what they are doing while

they are doing it, whether it be curriculum design, devising a PowerPoint presentation, setting seminar

questions, developing assessment strategies, delivering information or marking assessed work. More

importantly the professional lecturer will encourage students to think about what, why and how they

are doing whatever they are doing while they are doing it."

Aiding reflective practice UK Centre for

Legal Education, University of Warwick

Book: Schön, D. A. (1990)

Educating the Reflective Practitioner : Toward a New Design for Teaching

and Learning in the Professions.


Webpage: transcription of Donald Schon's Presentation

Educating the Reflective Practitioner to the 1987

meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques



This is a simple technique that encourages participation. The facilitator states a question and then goes

around the room inviting everyone to answer briefly. This is not an open discussion. This is an

opportunity to individually respond to specific questions, not to comment on each other's responses or

make unrelated remarks.


Scaffolding is a teaching strategy that was cleverly named for the practical resemblance it bears to the

physical scaffolds used on construction sites. The strategy consists of teaching new skills by engaging

students collaboratively in tasks that would be too difficult for them to complete on their own. The

instructor initially provides extensive instructional support, or scaffolding, to continually assist the

students in building their understanding of new content and process. Once the students internalize the

content and/or process, they assume full responsibility for controlling the progress of a given task. The

temporary scaffolding provided by the instructor is removed to reveal the impressive permanent

structure of student understanding (Herber and Herber, 1993, pp. 138-139).




Situative learning results from activity, context and interpretation of both the outcomes and social

interactions that occurred.

Social constructivist

Social constructivists view learning as a social process. It does not take place only within an individual,

nor is it a passive development of behaviors that are shaped by external forces (McMahon, 1997).

Meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.

A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which

learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects

and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure

to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to

experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".

Web page:Constructivist theory

Socratic instruction

Generally, the Socratic teacher invites a student to attempt a cogent summary of a case assigned for

that day's class. Regardless of the accuracy and thoroughness of the student's initial response, he or

she is then grilled on details overlooked or issues unresolved. A teacher will often manipulate the facts

of the actual case at hand into a hypothetical case that may or may not have demanded a different

decision by the court.



Group activity that involves concentrating groups of ideas pertaining to the same problem and assigning

them a theme. Patterns and relationships in the groups can also be observed.

Involves concentrating groups of ideas pertaining to the same problem and assigning them a theme,


• One slip of paper (or ‘post-its’) is used per idea generated or possible solution offered

• A meeting is set up of up to 5 people. The slips of paper are viewed and then grouped ‘like with like’.

• Duplicates can be created if the idea/solution is relevant to more than one group

• Patterns and relationships in the groups are observed

A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques



Structured debate

A simple logic structure for issue debate. Teacher poses an issue for students to debate. Each student is

obliged to stake out a position. All positions can be posted in the same document if everybody wants

the convenience of being able to see all positions at once. Then to each position, each student attaches

(i.e., hypertext links) pro or con arguments. For convenience, these also may be put in a common pro

or a con document. Students then critique the arguments by attaching (linking) various comments, two

to four participants engage with each other on provocative or divisive issues with an eye to challenging

themselves and the audience to examine their assumptions and unconscious beliefs. Debates can be

done in fishbowl style, in which two participants engage only with each other, or in a more

conversational style, where the audience also joins in the debate.


Systems theory

System theory is basically concerned with problems of relationships, of structures, and of interdependence,

rather than with the constant attributes of object (Katz and Kahn, 1966). Webster defines a system

as a "regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole," which "is in,

or tends to be in, equilibrium". Negandi says that "a system's attributes, which are the interdependence

and interlinking of various subsystems within a given system, and the tendency toward attaining a balance,

or equilibrium forces one to think in terms of multiple causation in contrast to the common habit

of thinking in single-cause terms".

Applying systems theory gives the students (and educators, who are learners as well) cohesion to disparate

facts giving better problem solving skills. It also increases the understanding of relationships

between systems. For example, giving a group of students the task of developing an amusement park

requires them to look at economic, social, environmental, educational, and construction factors. It requires

them to use traditional material (maths, reading, spelling, grammar, biology, physics, etc. skills)

as well as giving students additional understanding about how these pieces mesh together to make a

whole. It demonstrates to them first hand how the most basic concepts contribute to the larger figure.

It encourages students to change from being passive absorbers of information to active learners seeking


Web page: Systems Theory

Training needs analysis

Training needs analysis is a work based approach which addresses the needs of organisations/teams/

individuals, identitifies gaps and specifies training.

Web page of resources:

Training Needs Analysis

Vicarious learning

Vicarious learning, based on work by Bandura, and entails learning by observing and modeling

behaviours, attitudes, and emotional reactions.

Book: Bandura, A. (1977).

Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.


Social Learning Theory
A glossary of selected teaching approaches and techniques


Method in teaching/Learning English

    Methodology in language teaching has been characterized in a variety of ways. A more or less classical formulation suggests that methodology is that which links theory and practice. Theory statements would include theories of what language is and how language is learned or, more specifically, theories of second language acquisition (SLA). Such theories are linked to various design features of language instruction. These design features might include stated objectives, syllabus specifications, types of activities, roles of teachers, learners, materials, and so forth. Design features in turn are linked to actual teaching and learning practices as observed in the environments where language teaching and learning take place. This whole complex of elements defines language teaching methodology.

Schools of Language Teaching Methodology

    Within methodology a distinction is often made between methods and approaches, in which methods are held to be fixed teaching systems with prescribed techniques and practices, whereas approaches represent language teaching philosophies that can be interpreted and applied in a variety of different ways in the classroom. This distinction is probably most usefully seen as defining a continuum of entities ranging from highly prescribed methods to loosely described approaches.

The period from the 1950s to the 1980s has often been referred to as "The Age of Methods," during which a number of quite detailed prescriptions for language teaching were proposed. Situational Language Teaching evolved in the United Kingdom while a parallel method, Audio-Lingualism, emerged in the United States. In the middle-methods period, a variety of methods were proclaimed as successors to the then prevailing Situational Language Teaching and Audio-Lingual methods. These alternatives were promoted under such titles as Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Community Language Learning, and Total Physical Response. In the 1980s, these methods in turn came to be overshadowed by more interactive views of language teaching, which collectively came to be known as Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Communicative Language Teaching advocates subscribed to a broad set of principles such as these:

  • Learners learn a language through using it to communicate.

  • Authentic and meaningful communication should be the goal of classroom activities.

  • Fluency is an important dimension of communication.

  • Communication involves the integration of different language skills.

  • Learning is a process of creative construction and involves trial and error.

    However, CLT advocates avoided prescribing the set of practices through which these principles could best be realized, thus putting CLT clearly on the approach rather than the method end of the spectrum.

Communicative Language Teaching has spawned a number of off-shoots that share the same basic set of principles, but which spell out philosophical details or envision instructional practices in somewhat diverse ways. These CLT spin-off approaches include The Natural Approach, Cooperative Language Learning, Content-Based Teaching, and Task-Based Teaching.

It is difficult to describe these various methods briefly and yet fairly, and such a task is well beyond the scope of this paper. However, several up-to-date texts are available that do detail differences and similarities among the many different approaches and methods that have been proposed. (See, e.g., Larsen-Freeman, 2000, and Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Perhaps it is possible to get a sense of the range of method proposals by looking at a synoptic view of the roles defined for teachers and learners within various methods. Such a synoptic (perhaps scanty) view can be seen in the following chart.

Figure 2. Methods and Teacher and Learner Roles
MethodTeacher RolesLearner Roles
Situational Language TeachingContext Setter
Error Corrector
Audio-lingualismLanguage Modeler
Drill Leader
Pattern Practicer
Accuracy Enthusiast
Communicative Language TeachingNeeds Analyst
Task Designer
Total Physical ResponseCommander
Action Monitor
Order Taker
Community Language LearningCounselor
Whole Person
The Natural ApproachActor
Props User
Authority Figure

    As suggested in the chart, some schools of methodology see the teacher as ideal language model and commander of classroom activity (e.g., Audio-Lingual Method, Natural Approach, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response) whereas others see the teacher as background facilitator and classroom colleague to the learners (e.g., Communicative Language Teaching, Cooperative Language Learning).

There are other global issues to which spokespersons for the various methods and approaches respond in alternative ways. For example, should second language learning by adults be modeled on first language learning by children? One set of schools (e.g., Total Physical Response, Natural Approach) notes that first language acquisition is the only universally successful model of language learning we have, and thus that second language pedagogy must necessarily model itself on first language acquisition. An opposed view (e.g., Silent Way, Suggestopedia) observes that adults have different brains, interests, timing constraints, and learning environments than do children, and that adult classroom learning therefore has to be fashioned in a way quite dissimilar to the way in which nature fashions how first languages are learned by children.

Another key distinction turns on the role of perception versus production in early stages of language learning. One school of thought proposes that learners should begin to communicate, to use a new language actively, on first contact (e.g., Audio-Lingual Method, Silent Way, Community Language Learning), while the other school of thought states that an initial and prolonged period of reception (listening, reading) should precede any attempts at production (e.g., Natural Approach).

What's Now, What's Next?

The future is always uncertain, and this is no less true in anticipating methodological directions in second language teaching than in any other field. Some current predictions assume the carrying on and refinement of current trends; others appear a bit more science-fiction-like in their vision. Outlined below are 10 scenarios that are likely to shape the teaching of second languages in the next decades of the new millenium. These methodological candidates are given identifying labels in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek style, perhaps a bit reminiscent of yesteryear's method labels.

  1. Teacher/Learner Collaborates
    Matchmaking techniques will be developed which will link learners and teachers with similar styles and approaches to language learning. Looking at the Teacher and Learner roles sketched in Figure 2, one can anticipate development of a system in which the preferential ways in which teachers teach and learners learn can be matched in instructional settings, perhaps via on-line computer networks or other technological resources.

  2. Method Synergistics 
    Crossbreeding elements from various methods into a common program of instruction seems an appropriate way to find those practices which best support effective learning. Methods and approaches have usually been proposed as idiosyncratic and unique, yet it appears reasonable to combine practices from different approaches where the philosophical foundations are similar. One might call such an approach "Disciplined Eclecticism."

  3. Curriculum Developmentalism 
    Language teaching has not profited much from more general views of educational design. The curriculum perspective comes from general education and views successful instruction as an interweaving of Knowledge, Instructional, Learner, and Administrative considerations. From this perspective, methodology is viewed as only one of several instructional considerations that are necessarily thought out and realized in conjunction with all other curricular considerations.

  4. Content-Basics
    Content-based instruction assumes that language learning is a by-product of focus on meaning--on acquiring some specific topical content--and that content topics to support language learning should be chosen to best match learner needs and interests and to promote optimal development of second language competence. A critical question for language educators is "what content" and "how much content" best supports language learning. The natural content for language educators is literature and language itself, and we are beginning to see a resurgence of interest in literature and in the topic of "language: the basic human technology" as sources of content in language teaching.

  5. Multintelligencia 
    The notion here is adapted from the Multiple Intelligences view of human talents proposed by Howard Gardner (1983). This model is one of a variety of learning style models that have been proposed in general education with follow-up inquiry by language educators. The chart below shows Gardner's proposed eight native intelligences and indicates classroom language-rich task types that play to each of these particular intelligences. The challenge here is to identify these intelligences in individuallearners and then to determine appropriate and realistic instructional tasks in response.

  6. Figure 3. (Adapted from Christison, 1998)
    Intellegence TypeEducational Activities
    Linguisticlectures, worksheets, word games, journals, debates
    Logicalpuzzles, estimations, problem solving
    Spatialcharts, diagrams, graphic organizers, drawing, films
    Bodilyhands-on, mime, craft, demonstrations
    Musicalsinging, poetry, Jazz Chants, mood music
    Interpersonalgroup work, peer tutoring, class projects
    Intrapersonalreflection, interest centers, personal values tasks
    Naturalistfield trips, show and tell, plant and animal projects
  7. Total Functional Response 
    Communicative Language Teaching was founded (and floundered) on earlier notional/functional proposals for the description of languages. Now new leads in discourse and genre analysis, schema theory, pragmatics, and systemic/functional grammar are rekindling an interest in functionally based approaches to language teaching. One pedagogical proposal has led to a widespread reconsideration of the first and second language program in Australian schools where instruction turns on five basic text genres identified as Report, Procedure, Explanation, Exposition, and Recount. Refinement of functional models will lead to increased attention to genre and text types in both first and second language instruction.

  8. Strategopedia 
    "Learning to Learn" is the key theme in an instructional focus on language learning strategies. Such strategies include, at the most basic level, memory tricks, and at higher levels, cognitive and metacognitive strategies for learning, thinking, planning, and self-monitoring. Research findings suggest that strategies can indeed be taught to language learners, that learners will apply these strategies in language learning tasks, and that such application does produce significant gains in language learning. Simple and yet highly effective strategies, such as those that help learners remember and access new second language vocabulary items, will attract considerable instructional interest in Strategopedia.

  9. Lexical Phraseology 
    The lexical phraseology view holds that only "a minority of spoken clauses are entirely novel creations" and that "memorized clauses and clause-sequences form a high proportion of the fluent stretches of speech heard in every day conversation." One estimate is that "the number of memorized complete clauses and sentences known to the mature English speaker probably amounts, at least, to several hundreds of thousands" (Pawley & Syder, 1983). Understanding of the use of lexical phrases has been immensely aided by large-scale computer studies of language corpora, which have provided hard data to support the speculative inquiries into lexical phraseology of second language acquisition researchers. For language teachers, the results of such inquiries have led to conclusions that language teaching should center on these memorized lexical patterns and the ways they can be pieced together, along with the ways they vary and the situations in which they occur.

  10. O-zone Whole Language 
    Renewed interest in some type of "Focus on Form" has provided a major impetus for recent second language acquisition (SLA) research. "Focus on Form" proposals, variously labeled as consciousness-raising, noticing, attending, and enhancing input, are founded on the assumption that students will learn only what they are aware of. Whole Language proponents have claimed that one way to increase learner awareness of how language works is through a course of study that incorporates broader engagement with language, including literary study, process writing, authentic content, and learner collaboration.

  11. Full-Frontal Communicativity 
    We know that the linguistic part of human communication represents only a small fraction of total meaning. At least one applied linguist has gone so far as to claim that, "We communicate so much information non-verbally in conversations that often the verbal aspect of the conversation is negligible." Despite these cautions, language teaching has chosen to restrict its attention to the linguistic component of human communication, even when the approach is labeled Communicative. The methodological proposal is to provide instructional focus on the non-linguistic aspects of communication, including rhythm, speed, pitch, intonation, tone, and hesitation phenomena in speech and gesture, facial expression, posture, and distance in non-verbal messaging.

    Techniques in teaching/Learning English

By Richard Leblanc, York University, Ontario
This article appeared in The Teaching Professor after Professor Leblanc won a Seymous Schulich Award for Teaching Excellence including a $10,000 cash award. Reprinted here with permission of Professor Leblanc, October 8, 1998.

One. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It's about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It's about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students.

Two. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It's about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It's about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners, and liaisoning with their communities.

Three. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. It's about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It's about pushing students to excel; at the same time, it's about being human, respecting others, and being professional at all times.

Four. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It's about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It's about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a pushover on the other.

Five. Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and the class is the orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies.

Six. This is very important -- good teaching is about humor. It's about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It's often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.

Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and talents. It's about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It's also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction.

Eight. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support -- resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization -- from full professors to part-time instructors -- and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.

Nine. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one's peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development programs.

Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards ... like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn't imagine doing anything else.


Christison, M. (1998). Applying multiple intelligences theory in preservice and inservice TEFL education programs. English Teaching Forum, 36 (2), 2-13.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.

Howatt, A. (1984). A history of English language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pawley, A., & Syder, F. (1983). Two puzzles for linguistic theory: Native-like selection and native-like fluency. In J. Richards & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Language and communication. London: Longman.

Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language Teaching (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

What is Task-Based Learning?
by Nick Dawson

Using tasks

    Teachers have been using tasks for hundreds of years. Frequently, in the past, the task was a piece of translation often from a literary source. More recently, tasks have included projects for producing posters, brochures, pamphlets, oral presentations, radio plays, videos, websites and dramatic performances.

    The characteristic of all these tasks is that rather than concentrating on one particular structure, function or vocabulary group, these tasks exploit a wider range of language. In many cases, students may also be using a range of different communicative language skills.

What makes 'task-based learning' different?

    The traditional way that teachers have used tasks is as a follow-up to a series of structure/function or vocabulary based lessons. Tasks have been 'extension' activities as part of a graded and structured course.
    In task-based learning, the tasks are central to the learning activity. Originally developed by N Prabhu in Bangladore, southern India, it is based on the belief that students may learn more effectively when their minds are focused on the task, rather than on the language they are using.

    In the model of task-based learning described by Jane Willis, the traditional PPP (presentation, practice, production) lesson is reversed. The students start with the task. When they have completed it, the teacher draws attention to the language used, making corrections and adjustments to the students' performance. In A Framework for Task-Based Learning, Jane Willis presents a three stage process:

·         Pre-task - Introduction to the topic and task.

·         Task cycle - Task planning and report

·         Language focus - Analysis and practice.

Does it work?

Task-based learning can be very effective at Intermediate levels and beyond, but many teachers question its usefulness at lower levels. The methodology requires a change in the traditional teacher's role. The teacher does not introduce and 'present' language or interfere ('help') during the task cycle. The teacher is an observer during the task phase and becomes a language informant only during the 'language focus' stage.
You can read more about task-based learning in:

How to Teach English p31 by Jeremy Harmer [Longman]

The Practice of English Language Teaching 3rd edition pp86-88 by Jeremy Harmer [Longman]

A Framework for Task-Based Learning by Jane Willis [Longman]

A Task-based approach
Richard Frost, British Council, Turkey
In recent years a debate has developed over which approaches to structuring and planning and implementing lessons are more effective. This article presents and overview of a task-based learning approach (TBL) and highlights its advantages over the more traditional Present, Practice, Produce (PPP) approach.

This article also links to the following activity.
Try - Speaking activities - Task based listening - planning a night out

Present Practice Produce (PPP)
During an initial teacher training course, most teachers become familiar with the PPP paradigm. A PPP lesson would proceed in the following manner.

  • First, the teacher presents an item of language in a clear context to get across its meaning. This could be done in a variety of ways: through a text, a situation build, a dialogue etc.
  • Students are then asked to complete a controlled practice stage, where they may have to repeat target items through choral and individual drilling, fill gaps or match halves of sentences. All of this practice demands that the student uses the language correctly and helps them to become more comfortable with it.
  • Finally, they move on to the production stage, sometimes called the 'free practice' stage. Students are given a communication task such as a role play and are expected to produce the target language and use any other language that has already been learnt and is suitable for completing it.

The problems with PPP
It all sounds quite logical but teachers who use this method will soon identify problems with it:

  • Students can give the impression that they are comfortable with the new language as they are producing it accurately in the class. Often though a few lessons later, students will either not be able to produce the language correctly or even won't produce it at all.
  • Students will often produce the language but overuse the target structure so that it sounds completely unnatural.
  • Students may not produce the target language during the free practice stage because they find they are able to use existing language resources to complete the task.

A Task-based approach
Task -based Learning offers an alternative for language teachers. In a task-based lesson the teacher doesn't pre-determine what language will be studied, the lesson is based around the completion of a central task and the language studied is determined by what happens as the students complete it. The lesson follows certain stages.

The teacher introduces the topic and gives the students clear instructions on what they will have to do at the task stage and might help the students to recall some language that may be useful for the task. The pre-task stage can also often include playing a recording of people doing the task. This gives the students a clear model of what will be expected of them. The students can take notes and spend time preparing for the task.

The students complete a task in pairs or groups using the language resources that they have as the teacher monitors and offers encouragement.

Students prepare a short oral or written report to tell the class what happened during their task. They then practice what they are going to say in their groups. Meanwhile the teacher is available for the students to ask for advice to clear up any language questions they may have.

Students then report back to the class orally or read the written report. The teacher chooses the order of when students will present their reports and may give the students some quick feedback on the content. At this stage the teacher may also play a recording of others doing the same task for the students to compare.

The teacher then highlights relevant parts from the text of the recording for the students to analyse. They may ask students to notice interesting features within this text. The teacher can also highlight the language that the students used during the report phase for analysis.

Finally, the teacher selects language areas to practise based upon the needs of the students and what emerged from the task and report phases. The students then do practice activities to increase their confidence and make a note of useful language.

The advantages of TBL
Task-based learning has some clear advantages

  • Unlike a PPP approach, the students are free of language control. In all three stages they must use all their language resources rather than just practising one pre-selected item.
  • A natural context is developed from the students' experiences with the language that is personalised and relevant to them. With PPP it is necessary to create contexts in which to present the language and sometimes they can be very unnatural.
  • The students will have a much more varied exposure to language with TBL. They will be exposed to a whole range of lexical phrases, collocations and patterns as well as language forms.
  • The language explored arises from the students' needs. This need dictates what will be covered in the lesson rather than a decision made by the teacher or the coursebook.
  • It is a strong communicative approach where students spend a lot of time communicating. PPP lessons seem very teacher-centred by comparison. Just watch how much time the students spend communicating during a task-based lesson.
  • It is enjoyable and motivating.

PPP offers a very simplified approach to language learning. It is based upon the idea that you can present language in neat little blocks, adding from one lesson to the next. However, research shows us that we cannot predict or guarantee what the students will learn and that ultimately a wide exposure to language is the best way of ensuring that students will acquire it effectively. Restricting their experience to single pieces of target language is unnatural.

Task based speaking
Richard Frost, British Council, Turkey
This is a speaking lesson on the theme of planning a night out that uses a listening exercise to provide language input.

  • Preparation and materials
    You will need to record two people planning a night out on the town
  • Pre-task (15-20min)
    Aim: To introduce the topic of nights out and to give the class exposure to language related to it. To highlight words and phrases.
    • Show sts pictures of a night out in a restaurant / bar and ask them where they go to have a good night out.
    • Brainstorm words/phrases onto the board related to the topic; people / verbs / feelings etc.
    • Introduce the listening of two people planning a night out. Write up different alternatives on the board to give them a reason for listening e.g. (a) restaurant / bar (b) meet at the train station / in the square. Play it a few times, first time to select from the alternatives, second time to note down some language.
    • Tell them that they are going to plan a class night out and give them a few minutes to think it over.
  • Task (10min)
    • Students do the task in twos and plan the night. Match them with another pair to discuss their ideas and any similarities and differences.
  • Planning (10min)
    • Each pair rehearses presenting their night out. Teacher walks around, helps them if they need it and notes down any language points to be highlighted later.
  • Report (15 min)
    • Class listen to the plans, their task is to choose one of them. They can ask questions after the presentation.
    • Teacher gives feedback on the content and quickly reviews what was suggested. Students vote and choose one of the nights out.
  • Language Focus (20min)
    • Write on the board fives good phrases used by the students during the task and five incorrect phrases/sentences from the task without the word that caused the problem. Students discuss the meaning and how to complete the sentences.
    • Hand out the tapescript from the listening and ask the students to underline the useful words and phrases.
    • Highlight any language you wish to draw attention to e.g. language for making suggestions, collocations etc.
    • Students write down any other language they wish to remember.
Note: You can go on the planned night out with your students. This can make it even more motivating for them.