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李陆桂:Two English Teaching Principles I Adhere to

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Truth be told, words such as philosophy, pedagogy and psychology are too “advanced” for me to apply in language learning and teaching. On the contrary, I feel completely at ease with the use of words like spirit, principle and method (that may display more or less terminological differences) to describe my understanding (philosophy) of language learning and teaching. There are two principles I always adhere to in language learning and teaching. One is motivation , the other is to have a clear objective.7 T$ e% ~8 a5 G& O( B! X, L1 a
When talking about motivation we need to know the role of a teacher; one cannot motivate students successfully without understanding the role of an English teacher. As far as I am concerned the teacher is just a facilitator, as a matter of fact, teachers cannot teach anybody anything. The student is not an empty glass that will be filled with the liquid of knowledge and wisdom. The teacher can only facilitate, making it possible to motivate the students, it is up to the individuals themselves whether they learn or don’t learn as a result of being exposed to teaching.5 e9 ?! z: s! y
I never criticize my students in class no matter how badly they do in their study of English. Instead, I let my students know that I am pragmatic and I empathize with them by telling them on the first day of my English class that not all people can learn a foreign language well, only a small number of them are exceptionally gifted in learning a foreign language, and that the rest of us cannot learn it well without painstaking effort. We can lead a horse to water but we cannot make it drink unless it is willing to do so, therefore I always moderate my teaching demands and objectives through creative compromise so that the comparatively slow learners are willing to learn, first with assurance, then with achievement and finally with acceleration.2 l& \# t  ]2 N3 r- Z
As an English teaching researcher I have observed thousands of lessons and I have found that many English teachers are not so generous with compliments to their students. In my view, it is a matter of personality rather than methodology; successful English teaching is generally attributed to a teacher’s good personality, that is, his kindness and generosity. Believe it or not, those who have a strong faith in the so-called “frustration education”, with endless criticism of their students, are doomed to failure in English teaching. Teachers should be fully aware of the critical role of encouragement and praise in the classroom and learn how to do it effectively. Teachers should not only give their students a lot of encouragement, verbal or nonverbal encouragement, but also create an open, warm, and non-threatening classroom atmosphere.
/ a  e" q+ r, [( n  k; p# n; ]Always keeping a clear objective in mind is the second principle I adhere to. A clear objective guarantees the success of an English lesson, whereas an unclear and frivolous objective results in low efficiency. A clear objective is appositely tailored to the students needs. I would like to use two examples to support my second principle, with the first one being better and the second much room for improvement.
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3 p, L5 d- m) o8 GExample 16 P/ F  @" x: A- V& g
Text Material: Disasters1 a- t, Q4 G& k2 J; C$ [8 }
Teaching Objectives:
+ P) R7 p) U0 CBy the end of the lesson, the students will be able to
) E; _0 ^/ x7 l! E1.      Describe a disaster with the new words and expressions
+ {5 R* H1 W0 r% @1 \5 h5 r3 l2.      Master the skimming and scanning skills8 j& @  w9 \  ]- N5 [
3.      Talk about what we can do when a disaster happens0 V- u8 w4 d3 _2 v6 V
Train the students’ ability to use the skimming and scanning skills
& B; w% A6 V; }4 d" B- }! cHelp the students learn how to describe a disaster
+ `3 W1 M4 C( m& ZComment: The teaching objectives are very well designed. Instead of having a general description of objectives in most of the cases, the teacher gives very specific objectives. Secondly and most importantly, the objectives are described from a learner’s perspective using the “can do” statement. Instead of stating the knowledge to be learned or skills to be developed, the description emphasizes what the students will be able to do after class.' m( L7 S/ p1 r) l1 m
Example 2
- ?, Y: _# x  ]0 z6 GText Material: Computer, a2 G& [, A3 i4 J1 V0 z; u& R
Teaching aims:2 c2 `8 G3 y. W  F6 B" I% e1 s6 L' W
1.      To develop the students’ ability of reading.1 E: e7 [/ m; U( f& O! l
2.      To improve the student’s reading skills.
) d- x8 u' S6 b8 O' q9 f! @  Z3.      To help the students have a right attitude towards using computers.
0 H; g9 D8 X% r% p% S! F" e7 [: o3 b% wComment: The objectives stated here are too broad and general. It is very hard to achieve aims like develop the students’ ability of reading and improve reading skills in one class without specifying the sills that are to be trained or taught in class. In situations like the demo classes, when the teacher does not have any prior knowledge of the students, it is hard for the teacher to decide the appropriate skills to be trained in class. However, it is still possible for the teacher to set specific goals or objectives which are tailored to the students’ needs.6 x# F8 t0 y7 L# m2 ~) m; V+ u
Aim 1 and Aim 2 are in fact one aim, especially when stated in ways as they are stated here.: }' W3 E8 ]/ R
I do have problem with the aim No. 3. What could be the “right ”attitude towards using computer? And I do have serious doubts that such an attitude, if it exists at all, can be formed in such a short time in class. It would be better to state an aim in ways like having students inquire about the advantages and possible problems of using computers and Internet.

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