American Sign Language (ASL) classes are in high demand, therefore, there are numerous of teaching philosophies and methodologies in second language. From my teaching experience and from studying teaching methods and approaches, I have formulated my teaching philosophy. It incorporates several methodologies; Direct Method, Functional – Notional Approach, Communicative Language Teaching, and Multiple Intelligences
In the Direct Method, learners immerse in the language to develop their receptive and expressive language through intensive classes and knowing and demonstrating, and vocabulary. All students in the classroom are required to abandon their native language, English, and focus on comprehension of ASL from the instructor. Therefore, this approach utilizes the students’ visual learning of vocabulary through demonstrations, objects and pictures and encourages a learning experience more like their first language (ASL) (Brown, 2007). My experience with the Direct Method shows it to be successful when my students have invested their time.
This Functional-Notional l Approach (NFS), I believe, is one of the most effective methods in the classroom due to the curriculum goals that prepare learners for actual communication situations in the real world. The learners will adapt and know how to utilize the general notion as abstract concept (space, time, quality, quantity) and the concept of location, motion and speed are the general notion of space. The lessons of NFS often utilize working in pairs and small groups, role play and conversation practice to develop their confidence before facing the real world (Brown, 2007). My years of experience teaching with the Signing Naturally curriculum relied heavily on the NFS method.
Communicative Language Teaching
I often teach using the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach in my classroom. It is similar to the Signing Naturally curriculum. The CLT focuses on all of the components (grammatical, discourse, functional, sociolinguistic, and strategic) of communicative competence. The instructors are responsible to ensure that learners are using language for meaningful purposes. CLT incorporates other methods or approaches: learner-centered, cooperative, interactive, whole language based, and content-based that make it a comprehensive approach (Brown, 2007) that enable me to use several methods and approaches in the classroom simultaneously and holistically to maximize the learners’ communicative competence.
Multiple Intelligences (MI) refers to the various kinds of intelligence that all human beings possess but in differing amounts: Linguistic, Spatial, Interpersonal, and Bodily-kinesthetic (Brown, 2007). A good teacher would assess the learners’ strengths and devise teaching methods that match those strengths so that students can advance their skills to the maximum. I believe once learners are able to tap into their intelligences, they will not face difficulty. They will be able to rely on their independent learning process once they are on their own in the real world.
Based on my years of experience, I believe the list of methodologies described above is a recipe for success. My philosophy is to expand learners’ capacity in the process of learning and not only in developing meaningful language but understanding culture as well. Afterward, they have achieved their competencies. Ultimately, both communities, spoken-language and Deaf, would be able to build a bridge based on ability to communicate with each other. It will lead to the better and safe environment where we can live stress-free with mutual appreciation. That’s a win-win situation.
Brown, Douglas H., Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.
Richards, Jack C., Theodore S. Rodgers. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching, Second Edition. Cambridge Press, 2001.