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1. Situational Teaching
1.1 The language of children
The theory of situational teaching comes from the idea that a foreign or second language should be taught the same way the first language or mother tongue is taught. Anything a parent does with his/her child is commented. So all actions of the child and the parents are accompanied by words and sentences. These words and sentences are put together in patterns and word groups in the child’s mind. It recognizes structures of sentences that remain the same without really understanding the meaning of the words.
1.2 Language and memory
Words and sentences that aren’t accompanied by actions are not understood by the child. They stay isolated. A child can only associate a word with it’s meaning when he has heard it several times in the same situation. After a while the child will understand/recognize words even if they are said in a different situation. It will associate the word with the situation it knows and will understand it.
1.3 Experiences with words
To teach a foreign language in class the teacher should do the same as a parent does teaching his child. He shouldn’t translate words into the student’s mother tongue but use the words and structures he wants to teach in significant situations. So the same association process that happens in a child’s mind learning his mother tongue will happen in the students’ minds when they learn a foreign language. Words that are first accompanied by certain action will then be associated with the action even when they appear isolated.>Principle of action before expression.
1.4 Listening as the basis of speaking
Before the student can start using the new words or structures himself he has got to gain enough self- confidence by hearing the teacher use the structures again and again. He has got to be sure that the rules that he put up in his mind are right. This period of time that a student needs for the new structures and words to get stuck in his mind is called Inkubationsperiode. The length of this period is individuell.
1.5 Situational Teaching
Just like a child only learns his mother tongue because he has the urge to speak to tell his parents what he wants, if he’s hungry or thirsty or wants this particular toy to play with, a student will only learn a foreign language if he sees a reason to speak it. The teacher has to put the student in a situation in which he has the desire to talk. That’s why it is so important to communicate in the foreign language only. All instructions and explanations should be in the language that is to learn to make the students see that this language is for the practical use and not only for artificially created situations. If they want something from the teacher or another student they have to say it in the second language.
1.6 The student’s situation
To show how to create situations for students that they can relate to, Billows describes 4 circles: a)The first circle contains anything the student can immediately see, hear or touch. b) The second circle contains anything that the students have experienced before in their day to day life and in their families. c) The third circle is based on the student’s imagination with the help of material like scenes, maps or pictures. d) the fourth and most difficult circle contains spoken and written texts.
1.7 Centrifugal teaching
The order of the circles shouldn’t be mixed up. It is important that all new structures are introduced in the first circle in order to use them in situations of the 2. and 3. circle. Only when the students are able to use new structures and vocabularies in the first 3 circles they should put into a situation of the fourth circle.
1.8 New language material and teaching situation
To teach new structures the teacher has to create a situation in the classroom for the introduction to the new language material before using abstract texts in books.
1.9 Steady progress of success
To teach a foreign language successfully the learners have to be motivated. Getting or keeping students motivated can be achieved by letting them have success quickly in what they are doing. If they feel like they have learned something even if it’s just a little bit, they will have the desire to learn more, to be successful again. That’s why it is rather negative to correct the students too much. If they get corrected all the time they get annoyed and frustrated and will lose their motivation.
1.10 Learning situation and relation to society
As mentioned before it is very important to wake the students’ interest by choosing a topic that they can relate to. The actions in class should be informative and even entertaining. The relationship between the teacher and every single student should be as personal as possible to make sure that the situations in class are as real possible. When the student gets the impression that the teacher is really interested in what he says he’ll be more eager work in class.
2. Erwerbsorientierter Grammatikunterricht
The method follows 5 steps:
1. Demonstration: Since learning a foreign language requires the same processes in the human mind as learning your first language the conditions for the learner of a foreign language have to be as follows: a) The student must be able to recognize the new structure out of the situation. b) The structure the teacher wants to teach has to be significant/typical for the situation the teacher picks. c) The structure must be spoken out loud by the teacher about 15 times. d) The situation must be informative and relevant for the students so that they will see the sense of learning the structure. e) The teacher speaks out the new grammatical structures himself and animates the student to act verbal or nonverbal by using authentic material like a map.
2.Understanding and reacting: The students are confronted with the new structure again by giving a lot of written and spoken examples. They have to prove that they understand the new structures but they are not supposed to use the new structures themselves yet. If they are forced to use them before they are sure about their use they’ll make mistakes. And mistakes frustrate them and they’ll lose their self-confidence.
3. Reproduction: The students use the new structures but only reproduce many times what the teacher said before. They are not supposed to form their own sentences.
4. Production: The students use the new structures by forming their own sentences for example in dialogs with each other. It is again important to make sure that the students see the sense of using the new structure. The situation has to sort of require the use.
5. Making conscious (Bewusstmachung): The rules of the new structures are pointed out in cooperation with the teacher.
Though this last step is optional. It is controversial if this last step is really necessary. The argument for leaving it out is that children who learn their mother tongue aren’t made conscious of the rules of the structures they learn either.