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Philosophy of Teaching

Chi Zhang (Cherry)

University of Californian Riverside Extension Center

TESOL Portfolio


Philosophy of Teaching

To be an English teacher is a big challenge for everyone, because a good teacher

will not only affect what students can learn but also influence how students are

interested with the subject. A good teacher can inspire students motivation and

interest to learn well about the course while a bad teacher will push students to lose

their inspiration for learning. Thus, my philosophy of teaching will contain three steps

of learning: find your motivation, learn how to communicate and appreciate the

language. To achieve these three steps, I will use the Multiple Intelligences Theory,

the Task-based Language Teaching and the Communicative Language Teaching.

Personally, I became interested in teaching English when I was a language

teacher, teaching Chinese to speakers of other language. During this period, my

students had different first languages and some of them knew a little Chinese. How to

communicate with them? In English! Even though we spoke different first languages,

most of us could speak English. Thus, I found out how useful English is in the

intercultural communication and I thought that I could become a bilingual teacher to

teach Chinese to foreigners and teach English to Chinese simultaneously in the future.

In addition, I think my education background can help me to be an English

teacher. I got my Bachelors Degree in Chinese Language and Literature at Xiamen

University and then a Masters Degree in Chinese Culture at the Hong Kong

Polytechnic University. It seems that my major is totally different from teaching

English, but I believe that the Universal Grammar(Chomsky,1965) exists in different

languages. These learning experiences taught me the knowledge of linguistics, not


only for the Chinese language but also for other languages, such as what are

morphology, etymology, and phonetics. Moreover, it also trained me how to

appreciate the beauty of language, especially literary output. That is to say, language

is not only a communication tool, but also an art. Language combines the culture,

tradition, thinking style, history characters and so on. Even though we did not focus

on the beauty of the English language, but appreciation is an important skill of

learning language, especially for advanced learners. Furthermore, the Chinese

teaching experience provided me an opportunity to get teaching experience in real

classes. Working with students can help me to reflect on myself in the future teaching

according to the students feedback and the pace of class.

Currently, Im a student in 28-unit Advanced Professional Certificate in TESOL

program. I have completed my lessons about frameworks of how to teach English and

specific approaches of how to teach listening, speaking, writing, reading and grammar.

In addition, I interned as a student teacher in a real language class. After graduation, I

want to become a lingual teacher in a language school to teach Chinese and English to

adult learners. I hope I can be a teacher who can inspire my students to enjoy the

process of learning English.

In my philosophy of teaching, the first step is helping students to find their

learning motivation. According to Brown(2014,Chapter 6) the learning motivation

includes two parts: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Deci(1975, p.23) defined

intrinsic motivation as expending effort for which there is no apparent reward except

the activity itself... and not because it leads to an extrinsic reward. For example,

people acquire the self-determination or consequences during the learning process. In

contrast, extrinsic motivation is fueled by the anticipation of a reward from outside

and beyond the self(Brown, 2014, p.160). It is obvious that the one who has strong

motivation will learn better than the one who has weak motivation in same situation. I

remembered one of my American students who learned Chinese because he loved a

Chinese girl. He worked very hard and tried to learn Chinese ancient poems (which is

really difficult for many Chinese) because the girl liked reading poems. Obviously, he

had strong motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic. As a teacher, our job is to help

students find their motivation.

To achieve this goal, teachers may implement the Multiple Intelligence theory to

make the class active and effective and inspired students to be confident and gain

satisfaction during learning process. According to Gardners Multiple Intelligences

Theory, people have at least 8 intelligences(Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical,

Visual-Spatial, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, and

Naturalistic) (Gardner, 2000).That is to say that different people have their own

strengths and weaknesses in intelligence. In class, if the teacher can create different

activities in various intelligence, students can acquire the knowledge effectively in

their strong intelligence activity. In addition, they can build their self-confidence in

the learning process by acquiring target language. Moreover,teacher can also guide

some cooperative work to assess students, so that students can not only receive the

grades or scores but also the feedback from their classmates, such as encouragement,

appreciation, admiration, which are the extrinsic rewards to strong their learning


The second step is teaching students how to communicate. In 21st century, most

English teachers agree that language is a tool for communication, so the

communicative function plays a more important role in language teaching and

learning. To achieve this goal, I will combine the Communicative Language

Teaching(CLT) and the Task-based Language Teaching(TBLT). As Larsen-Freeman

described(2011, chapter 9), the CLT class emphasizes the importance of how to use

target language communicatively. In addition, the teachers main responsibility is to

establish situations to promote communication. In CLT activities, three features are in

common: information gap, choice, and feedback.

I observed an ESL speaking class which used the CLT method. This was a

listening and speaking class for low intermediate in UCR Extension. The teacher,

Karen Lindwall delivered this lesson for the international students who wanted to

finish their IEP courses. The target expression in that class was compare and contrast.

In the class, the teacher firstly taught students some sentences and phrases which

could be used to compare and contrast, such as A is similar to B, A is different from B,

A is bigger than B, which provided scaffold to students. Then, Karen showed two cars,

a Pee Wee and an Indulge with detailed information, such as Indulge was new and the

Pee Wee was a used one. T guided students how to compare and contrast these two

cars as model with main ideas and supporting ideas: The Indulge is similar to the Pee

Wee because both of them are nice cars. However, the Pee Wee is different from the

Indulge because the Indulge is bigger than the Pee Wee. After finishing this activity,

Karen gave students many examples with pictures to ask student to compare and

contrast, such as summer and winter, Riverside and Los Angeles, sweet food and salty

food. Students were divided in pairs and became the communicators in the real

situations and share their information with their classmates. This class clearly

demonstrated many principles of CLT. Firstly, the teacher gave students many

examples, which established situations to promote communication. In the meanwhile,

the students were the communicators in the class. They try to express their mind even

though they made some errors. The errors were acceptable in the class because in the

CLT lesson, accuracy was not the only point evaluated but also the fluency. Overall,

in the CLT class, students need knowledge of the linguistic forms, meanings and

functions to create real communication.

Another method, Task-based Language Teaching(TBLT), can also be used to

encourage students to practice language in communication. According to

Larsen-Freeman (2011, chapter 11), the TBLT is a strong version of CLT. Unlike CLT

class, in the TBLT class, the goal of teachers is to facilitate students language

learning by engaging them in a variety of tasks that have a clear

outcome(Larsen-Freeman,2011, page 204).

I observed Arlene Yalcins listening and speaking class for intermediate learners

in UCR Extension. Students would have a group presentation next week, so the

teacher showed the order the group presentation in monitor at the beginning of the

class. Then, the teacher taught them how to act formally and professionally in

presentation. After that, students practiced in pairs to discuss some topics with main

ideas and supporting ideas. For example:describe an environment problem that you

feel is very important and explain why it is so important to you;describe an

advertisement that you especially like and explain why it is so memorable for you.

After exercising, the teacher asked students to discuss with other groups if they

wanted to change the order of presentation. During this task, students learned how to

persuade each other, how to support their ideas and how to refuse each other. At last,

two groups change their presentation order successfully but two groups didnt. In the

class, the practice about main ideas and supporting ideas could be seen as a pre-task,

which would help students to success the final task. Students were motivated because

they knew they would use the language for the final task and for the outside world.

The third step of my teaching philosophy is appreciation the beauty of language,

especially for literature. The literature is the writings in which expression and form,

in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, and characteristic or

essential features, as poetry, novels, history, history, biography, and essays

(Dictionary, 2017). As a teacher, I hope I can facilitate students to read some literary

output. When you reading some outstanding novels, you can understand a country

deeply, including its culture, history, features of language and so on. Thus, in my class,

I will provide students some authentic materials, which give students the opportunity

to understand what is language really used and develop their language skills. For

example, I observed a class that the teacher, Karen Lindwall, suggested the low

intermediate students to read the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. During


reading, students would learn about the Mark Twan, the famous writer in American

history, and the background information about racism and geography. I hope, in my

class, some of my students can get the enjoyment and entertainment of reading.

In conclusion, my teaching philosophy is divided into three steps: finding the

motivation, communicating in real situations and appreciating the beauty of language.

I will use the Multiple Intelligences Theory to encourage students to find their

motivation for learning English. Communicative Language Teaching and Task-based

Language Teaching will be used in class to facilitate students to communicate in real

situations to improve their oral English. In addition, I will also inspire students to read

some literary output to have a deep understanding about the culture. I hope that

students could have fun in learning English and they can use English outside the



Brown, H.D. (2014). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. 6th edition.

White Plains, NY: Pearson Education Inc.

Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge:MIT Press.

Christison, M. (1998). Applying Multiple Intelligences Theory In Preservice and

Inservice TEFL Education Programs. The English Language Forum.Vol 36, No 2,

p1-5. Retrieved from http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol36/no2/ p2.htm

Deci, E. (1975). Intrinsic Motivation. New York: Plenum Press.

Dictionary, (2007). Dictionary. Retrieved from:http://www.dictionary.com/

Gardner, H. (2000). Intelligence Reframed:Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century.

New York: Basic.

Larsen-Freeman, D., & Anderson, M. (2011). Techniques and Principles in Language

Teaching. 3rd Edition. Oxford:Oxford University Press.