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Teaching Philosophy

Mher Davtyan
Learning a new language is always challenging, as it requires great efforts and time. It is a
systematic, gradual process defined as slow and dynamic, therefore, it is of crucial importance
to distinguish clear goals. Judging from my own experience goal setting is one of the most
important phenomena before every step of our lives. Three years ago, I decided to pursue my
second MA in the field of second language acquisition at AUA. It was one of the most
responsible decisions in my life, as I had to choose between PhD in Armenian language and MA
in TEFL program. The hardest part of my decision-making process was to reset new learning
goals for the rest of my whole life. Fortunately, I could connect my professions so my goal was
to balance two linguistic systems of Armenian learners and provide harmony between their
Mother Tongue and English.
Apparently, learning is a lifelong process and language learning is a nonstop procedure
requiring lifelong goals. However, I am in favor of setting short-term goals with touchable
outcomes that are easy to achieve. That is why I understand that the above-mentioned goal I
have set a few years ago sounds too general or abstract now to be a goal for teaching English.
More probably, it is an idea underlying my teaching philosophy and has social, cultural, even
political roots. Another idea behind the content of my teaching is naturalism or environmental
conservation, as I believe that whatever we teach should be educational and relevant to the
experience and life of our learners. Being a citizen of a country with small resources of natural
forests and a great mining industry, high rate of illegal deforestation makes me responsible to
rise the environmental awareness of my students. Therefore, I include texts, listening passages,
speaking activities based on the environmental challenges we face.
The cornerstone element of my teaching philosophy is the expected ability of my students to
communicate clearly and effectively both in oral and written forms. Hence, I would better to
teach vocabulary and grammar communicatively at the level of discourse, as my students
should be able to construct speech to share information. I strongly believe that it is necessary
to develop connections between L1 and L2 in learners mental grammar, as the complete
isolation of linguistic units (words and grammar patterns) does not promote translation and
interpretation. Nowadays, these skills are widely required in Armenian limited job-market as
English language specialists have to do multiple tasks as employees. Another fundamental goal
in my teaching philosophy is the development of fluency including speaking, writing and
reading. Finally, I would like to emphasis the role of pronunciation.
To target my first goal I use Communicative Language Teaching and Task-based methods. I
prefer these methods, as they do not limit the teachers creativity and role. In Silent Way, for
example, the role of the teacher is determined by activities and s/he is an orchestra director.
Whereas in CLT methods the teacher is a helper, facilitator, advisor and even can be a colearner. I would like to distinguish the key importance of role-plays to improve students ability
to communicate clearly and effectively. The sense of new identity that role-plays give learners
also promotes the self-expression of introverted students and make the teaching process fun.
This enthusiasm and energy in classroom generates a safe environment where students are
free to make errors and learn from their own mistakes. Besides, visuals, cartoons and pictures
in CLT open wide windows for discussion or debate. They are great assets for visual learners
and bridge speaking and writing.

Another reason, I prefer CLT, TBT or Participatory approach to other methods is the flexible
options to balance the grammar teaching ways: inductive and deductive. While it is important
to introduce new grammar implicitly, it is also essential to give explicit explanation to take into
regards learning styles or conclude the lesson. CLT methods are also ideal to teach grammar at
the level of discourse. While writing an essay based on a cartoon or doing a speaking activity I
provide students with newly introduced grammar patterns they have to use in their language
production. In this way, I assess my students ability to apply the knowledge they get. It helps
me to understand if they are confident enough to use new grammar or vocabulary, what kind
of errors are common, what is the most common misunderstanding or do my students develop
the avoidance strategy in their linguistic performance.
To relate L1 to L2 in learners mental grammar is fundamental for improving their ability to
switch languages easily or make translation/interpretation. In Armenian labor market, English
language specialists are expected to have multiple abilities like translation, interpretation from
L1 to L2 and vice versa, writing, oral communication skills and so on. CLT methods allow using
L1 in L2 acquisition process reasonably and judiciously, so if necessary I ask students to
translate some difficult words or phrases into L1. In case if the concept is a tricky one I ask them
to search in a dictionary as a part of homework or think of ways it may be translated into
Armenian.
It is common to listen to such expressions from L2 learners I understand this or that in English
but I cannot explain it in Armenian. That is why sometimes I engage students in a role-play
where they are asked to make an interpretation for a tourist who has just arrived to Armenia
and is lost or confused. Their interpretation provides me with another framework to assess if
they really understand new vocabulary or grammar and take notes for further feedback. This
activity helps students who almost subconsciously relate two languages and are good at
analyzing them.
Not less important is the fluency in writing, reading and speaking and pronunciation. For
fluency development, it is of vital importance for students to be limited in time while doing
language production or comprehension tasks. For example, to promote speaking fluency
students share the information they have with three peers. During the first attempt, they have
plenty of time so they do not need to rush. The second and the third chances of speaking are
limited in time and students job is to retell their stories without cutting details. In this stage,
the teacher monitors to assess the learners language performance. For improving writing and
reading fluency, I had better to give students texts or writing tasks that exactly reflect their
language proficiency level and lack unfamiliar or difficult words.
Concerning pronunciation, I am in favor of using audio-dictionaries, transcriptions for difficult
words to get the right form of the word from the very beginning. As I am not a native speaker
of English, I cannot be an ideal model of pronunciation for my students. Therefore, I prefer to
offer authentic listening material to the learners. I believe, when students are limited in time in
speaking activities, it also reveals their weaknesses in pronunciation. Obviously, when students
do not rush their speech they have enough time to choose between suspicious and right forms
or even avoid them. That is why, taking notes during their speaking is necessary for further
guidance of pronunciation improvement tasks.
To sum up, the studentcentered environment is the basis one of my teaching philosophy as
most of the teachers I had used to be in the center of the teaching process. Hence, my
judgments about its ineffectiveness are based on real experience and outcomes. I create extra
opportunities of self-expression for my students, possibilities to question and discuss. During
debates, I try to be invisible as much as possible to emphasize their role, promote thinking,

problem solving and independent decision-making process. For these reasons, I prefer CLT
methods as they enable teachers to be supporters, co-learners and emphasize students role as
active listeners, effective negotiators and communicators in general. For future, I plan to
volunteer in my hometown Vanadzor to share my knowledge and skills with children who lack
chances of CLT. I want to experiment language teaching by mixing and combining positive
features of various methods.