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DATE: November 3rd., 2005


To observe a teacher in order to recognize the different roles
that he or she has, and to discover the features of different
teaching styles in order to acquire a self-reflective attitude to help a
personal professional development.

For this observation, I visited the Escuela Normal Superior de
Profesorado Mariano Acosta, which is a state school located in the
Balvanera neighborhood, city of Buenos Aires. It functions as
Primary and Secondary School in the morning and afternoon shifts. I
attended two periods of an English Language lesson at one of the
4th secondary form courses.


The English Language level of the course was that of a First
Certificate. There were eleven students present at that moment.
First of all, the teacher checked the students´ completion of
homework. After correcting it orally, they worked on the lesson that
followed which dealt with different ethnic groups established at
present in London. As a starting point, the teacher invited the
students to have a talk about the topic they were going to work
with, and then they read silently the passage in pairs or in groups to
answer the questions about it in the book. Again, they corrected
their answers orally and as there were few minutes left before the
end of the lesson, the teacher handed out a photocopy of a text at
random to fill in the blanks with the corresponding prepositions.

 What theory of learning does this teacher seem to adhere to?
Provide evidence to support your views.
 Which teaching techniques would you like to use in the future?
 Which aspects of the class would you handle different?

As we already know there are many theories about learning but

we cannot say that one of them is the right one and the others are
wrong. In this sense, it seems to me that the teacher that I
observed applies to many of these theories, combining their most
relevant features throughout the lesson.

On the one hand, writing down individually or in groups the

answers to the questions about the text that is given and checking
them orally later, reinforces the structures of the language and the
grammar already learnt. The teacher also praises and corrects the
students´ errors during the activity. The sequences of repetition
and reinforcement and praise and correction are typical
characteristics of behaviourism. At the same time, comprehension
is also checked and this leads to take into account a cognitive
approach to learning. In this case, the students themselves are
involved in constructing meaning, through the process of
assimilation of new information and accommodation according to
what they already know. On the other hand, the topic of the lesson
brings to the students an aspect of the social context in which the
target language develops. The teacher encourages them to
associate it to the social context where they live:

Teacher: My question is: there are different ethnics established in

London. Are there different ethnics established in our country?
Students: Yes.
Teacher: Yes.
In this respect ,we can consider that the interactionists
position, which claims that language is the most important tool for
culture transmission, is present here. The main characteristic of this
theory which is related to the importance of the modified input in
language acquisition, in this case the teacher talk, is present also.
She speaks at a slow pace and a high firm pitch. She checks
comprehension and paraphrases to facilitate language

The role of the teacher in the teaching-learning context applies

to those considered in the Active Teaching approach, which focuses
on the teacher’s ability to engage students productively on learning
tasks during the lesson. According to this method, the following
characteristics are found in this classroom:

 She communicates clearly by giving accurate directions,

specifying tasks and time for completion.
 She presents new information by explaining, giving outlines and
summarizing on the blackboard.
 She obtains and manages engagement by maintaining task
focus, pacing instructions appropriately and promoting
 She monitors progress by reviewing work progress frequently.
 She provides immediate feedback by informing the students
when they are successful and correcting them when something is
wrong or misunderstood.

As a future teacher of EFL I agree with the above mentioned

teaching techniques that I observed throughout the lesson. I think
that in order to achieve an appropriate language level, classroom
management and monitoring of learning are very important aspects
to take into consideration in the teaching-learning process.
However, I would like to be able to incorporate some of the
characteristics of the Communicative approach such as:

 Leaving aside a teacher-centered role during short periods of

time within a lesson and taking that of a facilitator so as to
promote peer to peer communication.
 Not correcting every wrong utterance when there are grammar
or pronunciation errors as long as meaning is clear.

What I would handle differently in the lesson that I observed is:

instead of having the students read on their own the passage in the
book, I would have asked them to read it aloud in turns so as to
practise pronunciation, and at the same time be able to clarify or
add comments to what was said there. I think that by doing so there
is an opportunity on the teacher’s side for questioning and on the
students side for communicating themselves in the target language.
In that case probably there would be no time to complete the
exercises on the book, so I would asked the students to do them as

Psychology for Language Teachers: a Social Constructivist Approach
– Williams & Burden – 1997 – Cambridge University Press – Chapters
1-2 and 3.

Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms –

Richards/Lockhart . Chapter 5.

Notes on Communicative Approaches by Mady Casco – April 1988.

ELT News & Views Supplement 4.1 – Teacher Development – March


Theories of second language learning – Chapter 2.