Foreign language is a means of international communication. In many countries growing interest in the learning of foreign languages has encouraged on earlier start. Parents demand English or some other language for their children in primary-school age. The best age at which begin studying the foreign language is a question that is considered. The overall language – learning situation is the following school-age beginners are entitled to all-round basic course. Specialization of language skills is appropriate only at a vocational or immediately prevocational stage.
There are four main skills in teaching foreign languages: speaking, listening, reading and writing. According to Robert Lado, who formulated a theory of second language learning, the process of speaking and listening “combines linguistic and psychological as well as other elements”. Through some motivation the person decides to speak and some content is brought under attention. Through association of this content with expression in the language, sentences are constructed with words, information, phonemes etc. This happens at the conversational speed of some 500 sounds per minute. To achieve this requires great facility in using the language and an adequate memory to complete sentences within the structure of the language.
In listening the process is partly reserved starting with expression as heard in context, followed by recall of content through associations between expression and content.
Reading and writing are parallel processes to listening and speaking, with the writing system associated with units of expression and the matter of fluency.
Each of these factors – memory, facility, fluency, units and patterns can be described separately, but when a person is speaking or listening, they are all involved simultaneously. Attention and facility recall, memory span, motivation and will are important factors in speaking foreign language.
There are many problems in language-teaching theory. High on the list is the problem of teacher-training programs, how trainers can retain contact, the interrelationship of the language skills: the teaching of the main syntactic features of English in varying circumstances, the connection between drills and ability to use the language in situations (the language-learning situations of the classroom resemble those of “real” life), role plays.
In learning English, a student has to learn more than just the words. He has to know how each word fits together with other words in syntactical constructions. It is easier to learn English when its units are compared with that one in native language. There are some differences in lexical English and Russian units, they are discussed in two directions. We compare:
- Means of expressions of the same objects in different languages.
- Structural-semantic peculiarities of the words, having the same objet meaning.
Forexample: Russian «сооружения для подъема и спуска»- лестница, лестница в доме, парадная лестница, пожарная лестница. In English there are several words: staircase (лестницавздании), ladder (приставнаялестница), fire escape (пожарнаялестница).
The choice of the proper form of the plural ending, for example, or the past tense form of the verb or the appropriate case of pronoun – all these problems are more difficult for learner in the early stage of language learning.
It is not enough to understand how the grammar works. For active use of the language, the student has to practice all the common patterns until he can use each vocabulary item in the right shape and in proper combinations with other items. No formal study of grammar can take place in this practice. In order to develop practical skill in speaking the language the student must work towards the automatic control of grammar, a varied collection of oral exercises is needed to drill the correct forms.
Grammatical patterns play important role in language teaching. There are three approaches to the teaching of grammar: the older one of the grammar-translation method, the newer one of the mimicry – memorization method and the still newer one of the pattern drills and pattern practice. The pattern practice approach is presented as most effective at its appropriate stage.
These different aspects of English language are reflected in the program for students of the Restoration College. The program contains a well-balanced range of activities with adequate provision for homework based on material taught in class. Lessons include not only activities done by the class as a whole, but also group work, giving students the maximum possible opportunity to practice and develop their skills in English. This course is designed to provide students with a varied and interesting teaching program, which concentrates on developing the ability to use the type of English necessary for everyday communication, in their future profession.
Before reading the texts the students should learn the vocabulary, grammar rules. The texts are easy to understand, they cover topics for art students such as “In the museum”, “Visiting a Picture Gallery”, “Our college”, “City”, “My favorite writer”, “My favorite artist”. In our college English is taught nowadays not as an academic discipline but as something with a direct and practical application in the students’ daily life. In order to use a word its forms must be taught practiced to gain fluency in speech and rapid understanding. Then the words are used in topics, dialogues and role plays. Speakers may rely on the situation context semantic information.
Writing is an important means of instruction, it serves to reinforce and consolidate the other language skills: speaking and reading. Productive writing is an independent speech activity. Our students write tests, compositions, project works.
I vary teaching methods using videos and interesting course books as well as newspapers and magazines in the classroom. I believe that successful learning depends on the active participation of students in class and their everyday work at home.
The New Cambridge English Course, Cambridge University Press, 1998
А.Н. Шамов: Учебная деятельность на уроках иностранного языка – Иностранные языки в школе, №9, 2012