Eğitim Felsefesi ve İlkeleri
Teaching Philosophy and Principles
Our teaching philosophy is based on the idea of creating responsible members for our society who will make the most use out of their departmental studies as a start with the help of the English language. For this purpose, we mainly focus on creating the right environment for our students to become conscious people who have the abilities of critical and analytical thinking, who are sensitive and open to any kind of differences, who have high self-discipline and self-confidence and who value self-discovery and curiosity. Our ultimate purpose is to increase the awareness and creativity of our students, for which we have 8 principles;
In any sector, coming up with the best ideas and having an effective working environment requires collaborative work. Collaboration occurs when various minds with different skills come together and work towards the common goals in the most ideal way. In order to improve the quality of education, we realize that working together and supporting each other is an essential part of reaching our goals. Not only do we apply the idea of collaboration towards a better outcome, but we also make our students gain the necessary skills of cooperation and understand how important it is in their both educational and professional lives. In order to create a collaborative environment, we have regular meetings and trainings where teachers share their ideas about different areas of teaching; we have a “whatsapp” group where teachers discuss their ideas with their colleagues, we follow the ELT conferences and update each other about them. In order for the students to develop collaborative skills, we assign them with projects that require group work and cooperation.
One of the main assets of our program is to stay updated with the contemporary language teaching methods, techniques and materials which we believe is a crucial component in creating an effective learning environment. With the globalization and increasing technological developments, high-quality education cannot be provided without following the latest advancements and making the necessary changes in the system. Every member of our team can contribute to this reform and adjustment process with their valuable feedback and creative ideas. Whenever a teacher or a student has feedback about the program, the feedback form is filled out, is reported to the responsible coordinator and an action plan is made to make the necessary improvements.
The main purpose of our program is to create responsible individuals who can think critically and contribute to the community and eventually to the universe, which cannot be achieved without empowering them with the necessary life skills such as independence, analytical thinking, self-discovery and productivity. With the regular projects we give and the authentic materials we use in classes, we aim not to teach the students only the language but to guide them to learn by themselves, to reach the most reliable information, to analyze and produce materials and to use the target language effectively alongside.
Students and their needs are the center of our education program. Starting with grouping the students into their classes till they pass to their departments, students’ differences and individual needs are considered in every step we take such as choosing the appropriate books, applying the projects or deciding on the authentic materials to be used. Based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory, we apply a learner type test to each student at the beginning of the academic year and share them with the main course teachers who can create a classroom environment based on those test results so that every student can be involved in the learning process.
The principle of transparency requires that policies, objectives, goals and resources are visible, easily accessible and shared with every member of the team. Transparency means being honest and participative with both other teachers and with the students. In order to provide transparency, we keep most resources and files in cupboards easily reachable by all teachers, in hard drives that is kept by the coordinators and shared with the teachers on demand. What is more, every teacher has his/her personal computer account as well as a shared account where we keep our shared folders.
Our minds have no limits and in order to push the boundaries we create, we need to improve our students’ intellect which requires us to improve ourselves personally and professionally as well. Common sense and general courtesy, respect and curiosity, kindness and sensitivity, questioning and creativity are some assets that we try to provide our students with for a broader intellect which will turn them into better students and eventually better professionals. In order to determine this; we, as a team, share our knowledge with each other and support one another.
One of the key elements in determining success in education is to create an effective and valid assessment system and to ensure that the assessment goals are aligned with the goals of education in the program. In order to success, it is important to design realistic outcomes that can be achievable in the given amount of time. What is equally important is to design the right assessment tools in order to evaluate what we want to evaluate in students’ progress. Our assessment policy is created accordingly and we use continuous assessment in order to ensure validity and reliability; we use various tools of assessment such as different types of quizzes, exams for all levels, projects, participation grades and homework grades. Moreover, peer-checks and double-grading are some of the methods used in order to increase validity.
Last but not least, one of our main principles in teaching is equality. Equality here is twofold; equality among colleagues and equality among students. The management and the coordinators try not to burden the teachers with too much in order to give them some space for personal and professional development. More importantly, we try to determine an equal system for students so that they can all receive the same education regardless of their differences. To ensure this, a separate testing team prepares the assessment tools, they are not shared with any teachers, the results of any tests given are shared with students in a certain amount of time, all classes in the same level follow the same syllabus and use the same materials, each teacher evaluates a different class’s students’ performance for any kind of exam and any kind of complaint or feedback is given equal amount of effort and time to create a better system.
Teaching Approaches and Methods
- Our Approach
Our program implements an international language education with a global focus aimed at the citizens of the 21st century. We believe that students are curious about the globalized world so we try to motivate them by engaging them in authentic activities in the classroom environment. Our main purpose is to improve our students personally by giving them a general English education that they can use in their daily lives to contact other cultures as well as to improve them professionally by shifting into the academic side of the language towards the end of the year so that they can get ready for their departments.
With this mission in mind, we have chosen to use an eclectic method which we believe is the best way to approach language teaching. An eclectic method allows the students and the teachers to benefit from a large variety of activities and techniques in the language acquisition process. In the eclectic method, the main approach we benefit from is the communicative language approach, which is globally accepted to be an effective way to teach a language in this century. We understand the importance of using stimulating topics in classes to increase the students’ motivation and to engage them in diverse cultures and backgrounds in order to prepare them for the real life. We also make use of other different techniques and methods based on the local needs of the students. Among these, the two important approaches are task-based and project-based learning. We include challenging authentic tasks throughout the education program to stimulate our students more into critical thinking and using their language skills. Project-based learning is also another essential aspect of our program. Our program consists of 4 tracks and for each track; students are responsible for a different project that will lead them into using the language for other purposes and learning by doing covertly.
In the light of these approaches and techniques we give importance to, we have chosen the materials that we believe align the most with our students’ needs, our local needs and our purposes;
Our main course book for A1 and A2 levels is Cutting Edge, which is a multi-layered book with special emphasis on communication, the use of phrases and collocations and active learning and research skills. Considering our student profile who mostly have no or very little background of English education and their needs, starting with the Cutting Edge book giving general English education is the best option.
After getting the students engaged in general English for the first two tracks, it is plausible to start including more academic language in the education which is why we switch to the New Language Leader book. The New Language Book is based broadly on Communicative Approach, with language conceptualized in texts and task-based approach to practice and language exploration. It contains general English with an academic flavor which helps the students cross the bridge from general English to a more academic one.
Both books are aligned with the Global Language Scales such as the Common European Framework which makes it a smooth transition from Cutting Edge to New Language Leader.
For the skills classes, we make use of Unlock for the lower levels (A1 and A2) which is based on Bloom’s taxonomy and classification of learning objectives to ensure learners to develop their lower- and higher- order skills. Thought-provoking videos and access to the Cambridge English Corpus makes it more beneficial and enjoyable for the students to develop language skills both in general and in academic English.
As students get to the higher levels (B1 and B2), we switch to the Skillful book which gives more emphasis on academic language and includes longer and more challenging texts. Skillful recognizes that skills cannot be learned by memorizing facts; to acquire them, learners must notice them as they read, listen or write. Learners need to access to more academic and challenging vocabulary and grammar through the texts which is also supported technologically by the Skillful Digibook.
For writing skills, for the higher levels, we stop using a textbook and start using our own writing packs which contain parts about different types of essays and some other information that is prepared based on what our students will need in their departmental studies.
For further levels, we believe it is better to organize authentic materials to get the students ready for their academic life. That’s why we prepare authentic reading materials to use in classes. Furthermore, in order to compensate for any parts in any main course book that don’t match with our program’s purpose, we have grammar books and academic vocabulary materials that we share with our students on a needs-basis.
- Communicative Language Approach
The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language. CLT is usually characterized as a broad approach to teaching, rather than as a teaching method with a clearly defined set of classroom practices. As such, it is most often defined as a list of general principles or features. One of the most recognized of these lists is David Nunan's (1991) five features of CLT:
- An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language.
- The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation.
- The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the learning process itself.
- An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning.
- An attempt to link classroom language learning with language activities outside the classroom.
- Task Based Language Learning
Task-based learning focuses on the use of authentic language through meaningful tasks such as visiting the doctor or a telephone call. This method encourages meaningful communication and is student-centered.
- Students are encouraged to use language creatively and spontaneously through tasks and problem solving
- Students focus on a relationship that is comparable to real world activities
- The conveyance of some sort of meaning is central to this method
- Assessment is primarily based on task outcome
- Eclectic Method
Eclectic method is used as one of the main methods in language learning inside the classroom. One specific method may not meet the needs of pupils. Eclecticism is defined as a type of methodology that makes use of the different language learning approaches instead of sticking to one standard approach ( AL Hamash, 1985 : 22).
Al-khuli M. Ali ( 1981 :7 ) presents that Eclectic method contains the following principles :
- Giving teachers a chance to choose different kinds of teaching techniques in each class period to reach the aims of the lesson.
- Flexibility in choosing any aspect or method that teachers think suitable for teaching inside the classroom.
- Giving a chance to pupils to see different kinds of teaching techniques that break monotony and dull on one hand and ensure better understanding for the material on the other hand.
- Solving difficulties concerning presenting the language material in the pupil's textbook.
- Using different kinds of teaching aids which leads to better understanding, and
- Saving a lot of time and effort in presenting language activities.
- Project Based Language Learning
In order to connect the language with the real life, our students are supposed to prepare 4 projects throughout the academic year. The purpose here is to change the focus from learning the language to completing a project in the language which eventually leads to covert learning. In each track, a different project is assigned to the students.
In the first track, students prepare a presentation about a country they choose. They prepare a PPT on their country and they present it in the classroom. The presentations are done interactively and are evaluated by their teachers based on a rubric.
In the second track, students work in groups to make short films based on their original script or an adaptation. The main course teachers watch the films at the end of the track and at the beginning of the following track; there is a Short Films Awards Ceremony where the best films in different categories receive certification in a ceremony.
In the third track, students choose an elective lesson, such as English through drama, English through songs, English through Storytelling, Pronunciation, Vocabulary, etc. The important thing is to create diversity in language education and to let the students enjoy their language acquisition process by doing something they are interested in.
In the last track, students are expected to prepare end-of-year presentations which take place for a week at the end of the track. Students prepare a persuasive speech in their groups and present it in the conference hall to their teachers and their friends.
“Syllabus” is defined by Richards (2001, p.2) as “a specification of the content of a course of instruction [which] lists what will be taught and tested”. White (1988, p.3), citing Brumfit (1984) further notes that a syllabus “can only specify what is taught; it cannot organize what is learnt.”
The syllabus types and content are chosen and prepared based on our teaching philosophy, principles, students’ needs and environmental factors.
- Functional Syllabus
Functional syllabus is organized around communicative functions, such as identifying, reporting, correcting, describing, and so forth. Examples of language functions (Brown, 1995:10):
- seeking information
- changing a topic
- saying good-bye
- giving information
- introducing someone
- greeting people
This kind of syllabus can help students develop their overall ability to function in a new language. Students will have more experience with, and knowledge about, which linguistics forms do what in the new language, and they will have exposure to at least some real or simulated interaction in the language.
- Content Based Syllabus
The focus of a CBI lesson is on the topic or subject matter. During the lesson students are focused on learning about something. This could be anything that interests them from a serious natural disaster to their favourite actor or even a film. They learn about this subject using the language they are trying to learn, rather than their native language, as a tool for developing knowledge and so they develop their linguistic ability in English.
This type of syllabus is applied because of the following advantages;
- It can make learning a language more interesting and motivating. Students can use the language to fulfil a real purpose, which can make students both more independent and confident.
- Students can also develop a much wider knowledge of the world through CBI which can feed back into improving and supporting their general educational needs.
- CBI is very popular among EAP (English for Academic Purposes) teachers as it helps students to develop valuable study skills such as note taking, summarizing and extracting key information from texts.
- Taking information from different sources, re-evaluating and restructuring that information can help students to develop very valuable thinking skills that can then be transferred to other subjects.
- The inclusion of a group work element within the framework given above can also help students to develop their collaborative skills, which can have great social value.
Students’ Progress and Support: Student Profiles
A student profile is a file about a student’s academic progress. It is completed and kept by the student’s main course teacher and if the student changes his/her class for some reason, the profile is also transferred to the other main course teacher.
The purpose of keeping student profiles is twofold: to help instructors at the preparation school to keep track of a student’s development if he/she changes class and to give the professors at the departments an idea about their students. Profiles are written after the teacher conducts a personal interview with the student. Other teachers’ opinions about the student may be asked if necessary and they are confidential.
Apart from the main course and skills books used throughout the program, there are many other extra supplementary materials used the language education process. These supplementary materials include;
- grammar books to support students’ grammar studies
- writing packs to make the best out of different resources for essay writing
- readers to increase the students’ reading skills and to make them gain reading habits
- authentic materials in various classes to engage the students in real life and to make the language a means, not a purpose
- online courses mostly for the B2 and C1 level students
Extra packs for different skills for Improvement Classes in the second track.