Basically what I have learned in this lesson is that there are a few approaches that can used in language learning.
Starting with 'The Classical' method which is used by many state school still. It focuses on grammar translation more for the writing and reading rather than 'speaking' skills. It is rightfully considered by many as unnatural method of language learning.
Then we have the 'Audio lingualism', the 'Silent Way', the Suggestopedia, the Communicative Language Learning, or Communicative Language Teaching methods, etc.
Each of these methods have their pluses and minuses. However, in 1998 Jeremy Harmer introduced the three-stage methodology in 'How to teach English' and this is where ESA came about.
The concept of Engage, Study, Activate (ESA)
Looking at the previous methods, 'cherry-picking' the best approach, and implementing these into the ESA concept. We have a solid language learning program.
The basis is focused on the relationship between teacher and student learner, as well as, constructive time spent in the classroom.
Facts to remember are that both teacher and student stays active, fresh and stimulated throughout the lessons.
Key points to the ESA are:
- students need as much exposure to language learning as possible
- teacher has to elicit and reciprocate by offering input to students too
- realistic communicative tasks offer students the ability to learn the language in a productive and fun way
- it's imperative to keep the students' anxiety levels to its lowest so as to absorb learning comfortably
- students should have a desire, or be encouraged to learn language for themselves
Of course, much also depends on the environment and situation(s):
- teachers attitude and foresight plays a big role.
- students' background culture, age, attitude and learning level.
- the activity in the classroom
So, as a teacher, we have to grow a sense of 'prediction' before these triggers happen. The main objective is to do 'what's best for the student(s).'
The ESA Method:
ENGAGE: Starting off with the 'warm up' stage, whereby the teacher elicits the students to 'open up' and speak the English language. Native language is discouraged.
No corrections done in this phase. Simply fun, communication between students, and teacher.
A few games that come to mind are the information and sentence prompt games, flashcard/picture game, sevens, I spy, and my favourite of course, consequences.
If possible, this could flexibly be followed to the next phase. The Study Phase.
STUDY: Here the teacher starts off by using elicit questions...
Everyone has settled down to 'comprehensive learning' of the language. It can fall into various categories of the language teaching lesson.
Examples would be:
- How to construct a sentence
- How to spell and pronounce a word.
- How to use past, present, and future tenses.
- Analysing the language work.
- ...and even deeper, comprehensive learning for higher levels.
Here, the teacher may use group-based activities and games.
The teacher has the opportunity to use the 'correction' approach, whereby the student is struggling to correct
him/herself, and aptly the other students were not able to either.
Or, if it has become a continual 'error' that requires the teacher's help for fear of 'ingraining' a bad habit.
Teacher correction is always the last resort.
Teachers should encourage the student to solve the problem by themselves. This way they can think why it is wrong,
and they will know not to make the same mistake again.
ACTIVATE: This ESA phase is focused on communication.
The teacher needs to clearly explain what the activity is about, and give ample time for students to plan their
assigned roles. Which could include:
- Role-playing, story telling, project production
- We could perhaps have surveys, debates for higher level learners
Again, all students are encouraged to participate by speaking, interacting, planning and presenting it to the
rest of the class.
While the teacher makes notes of any errors to be introduced at the 'end' of the activity, if need be.
Above is the sample of the 'Straightforward' ESA method: (Engage, Study, Activate), which can turn out unpredictable and
Lessons can vary in method frequencies but as long as Engage(first) and Activate(last) methods remain within the lesson.
Then there is the 'Boomerang' ESA method, whereby the lesson can vary ... E1,A1,S1,A2
Or the 'Patchwork' method ... E1,A1,A2,S1,E2,S2,A3
Feedback and correction: The student need to receive input from the teacher to reflect and progress.
- Positive and constructive corrections should be administered at all times. No-one wants to be wrong, so the
teacher could be in the student's bad spot-light. No over or under correcting and in the proper lesson phase, primarily the 'Study' phase, subtly in the 'Activate' phase.
- Regular feedback is valuable to the teacher too. To see how the students are progressing or what 'needs' need
to be met, or if the lesson was a success or needs adjusting for the follow-up lessons.
In conclusion, when applying the ESA techniques in the classroom, it could bring much excitement and noise. This
could be construed by some cultures as 'unacceptable way' of teaching. So teachers need to be aware of this fact too. But it is a fresh, active way to teach and learn indeed.