"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
- Benjamin Franklin
As a professor, I believe that the key to successful teaching and learning is communication, where participants build knowledge through sharing their experiences in the classroom. Teaching is not a process by which teachers dispense knowledge to students, in a teacher-centered way, but rather through creating meaningful contexts where learners can be in the center of the learning process. I, therefore, believe in the communicative approach, and that learners should be provided with rich contexts in which to practice the target language, thereby offering motivation for learners to use their target language in new and creative ways. Moreover, I find that I myself learn and grow as a teacher and that the adventure never ends! A learner-centered approach certainly supports the communicative approach, and therefore I also believe in diversifying my lessons, throughout a given semester, in order to support various learning styles. Lastly, I also take into account the current World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, and specifically the 5 C's, as these can act as an important guideline for achieving a proficiency-oriented and communicative approach.
As a native speaker who teaches his native language, I believe that one of the deepest levels on which I can connect to my students is through culture. Learning new languages is truly more than learning rules. - in my class, I help students discover a new life, a new culture, consider new worlds, and in turn, I learn from them. Through this interaction, my classroom becomes an avenue by which we can collectively expand our world view. This is not to say that cultural learning comes at the expense of teaching and practicing the four skills. Rather, in the communicative classroom that I foster, practicing these skills are woven into task-based activities that are thematic and cultural. I also believe that at times, explicit explanation of grammar may be necessary, and I create an environment where I can aid students in their learning through fun games, or "tricks" to identify patterns, that facilitate learning challenging material. These explicit explanations, however, always have a context within which they are embedded, and students can directly apply these rules in task-based as well as culturally authentic-based activities. I also encourage students to negotiate meaning, as they would in authentic situations, both with their classmates and me. By making mistakes and overcoming communication "breakdowns", students gain the confidence need to bravely continue on their language learning journey.
I wholeheartedly believe that teaching and learning is a collaborative process and that it is my responsibility to provide students with meaningful content and contexts in which to practice that content, as well as language learning strategies. I have gained from them new ways to make me understand, what I should improve, and of course, the "if" clause to consider other possibilities of explanation and making language a really good experience for us.