Teaching methods

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Which style of teaching do you prefer? 

1. Someone telling you what you want to do…

2. Telling someone what you want to do…

If you agree with the first statement, you might be living in the past.

The second statement sounds more appealing.

1. Communication Based Teaching

Informal & interactive: Focuses on improving oral capabilities. Activities will include discussions, role-plays, problem solving, sentence building, indirect translations etc.

Learn-by-doing: Learning should be relevant and practical not just passive and theoretical. This is especially useful when learning something practical e.g. playing an instrument, dancing or even learning a language; this style of language teaching is becoming more common in private classes. 



I believe that the school must represent present life – life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground. 

— John Dewey (My Pedagogic Creed)

2. ‘Chalk & Talk’ 

Teacher-directed method: Mostly passive; focuses on direct instruction – direct learning where the teacher is always at the front of the class controlling activities often using techniques such as ‘ROTE’.

ROTE‘: A memorisation technique based on repetition e.g. memorizing the alphabet, numbers, and multiplication tables.






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Examples of countries using different methods

Asian-countries e.g. China & Japan

In 2016, a study found that 72% of Chinese lesson time was made up of whole class teaching, compared to 24% in the UK; this huge difference could be influenced by the concept of ‘face’.

Face– This concept refers to one’s own sense of respect, pride, politeness, self – esteem in social contexts.

  • Chinese and Japanese students said they rarely answered teachers’ questions; students wait for the teacher to call them.
  • If they have low abilities;  they believe that they will lose face. They believe that if they say the wrong answer to a question, it could reduce their social status and prestige.
  • Also, if the teacher does not know the answer, it could cause embarrassment for the student and the teacher.
  • The teacher may lose face because of the student; therefore students are reluctant to ask questions. As a result of this, students focus on writing notes rather than interacting in the class.

Australia & European countries e.g. UK. 

In these countries, lessons have had greater focus on collaboration and student involvement since 1960’s and 70’s; students have greater control. Teachers base learning around students interests, therefore removing mental arithmetic and reducing the time spent memorising times tables.

  • Some schools in Australia believe students learn better when they are active; they should not be sat at their desk listening to information.
  • Children range in intelligence and do not favour a certain learning style; teachers customise their classes to their learning styles.
  • They also praise students, even if they have not succeeded, so that they remain motivated and their self-esteem is not affected.

Comparison & Summary

Evidence suggests that ´C & T` works extremely well for maths teachers; China has had remarkable success in international tests such as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Tests were conducted on students aged 9 & 10 in a school in Southampton, UK and a school in Nanjing, China in 2014. The math tests from TIMSS concluded that average scores were 84% in China and 56% in the UK. The evidence suggests that the ´chalk and talk` method works for young students learning maths.

However, learning should not solely focus on exam results, teachers need to focus on oral-based learning as well because it improves social skills and builds confidence. It can also create independence. For instance, in problem solving, students become capable of completing tasks without any help, students become more focused because they are being challenged. This can also be supported by internet resources such as smartphones and tablets, to facilitate student decision making.

On the other hand, giving students greater control is risky because it can reduce discipline in the classroom; teachers can lose control. Additionally, teachers should not overpraise their students because it could also be damaging to their self-esteem; they could set their standards too low because little is expected.

Conclusively, it will depend on a combination of both. Different classrooms will have different students with different abilities. Some students may excel in written exercises, whereas others may show confidence in speaking. Various strategies are needed to be flexible to students needs. But, the trend is pointing in the direction of online education, therefore it may be time to ditch the chalk and find new ways of teaching.

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