Lesson 4: Professional Development

Putting Methods into Practice

Methods courses have mixed results when it comes to changing teachers' pedagogical practices. Unfortunately, some methods courses are overly theoretical and lack a practical component. For example, beginning teachers may understand a new method intellectually in a methods course but avoid trying out the innovation in their classrooms until they have more practical experience.

We encourage you to test the new ideas throughout the modules in your own classroom and then reflect on the results. Don't be discouraged if things don't go well on the first try. Developing your teaching skills is an iterative process that requires multiple attempts at mastering a new practice:

  1. try out the new practice in your classroom;
  2. reflect on how things went;
  3. make adjustments and then try it again!
Play

Dr. Abrams on how to get the most out of a methods course.

Duration: 02:23

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What do you think is the proper relationship of theory and practice for the novice language teacher? Can you master a teaching practice without understanding why it works?

How this Course is Different

Each module within this online methods course is taught by a different instructor who has his or her own teaching style and beliefs about language teaching. Some viewers may find this diversity a bit disorienting at first. But, as you progress through the modules, you will likely begin to see common threads that run throughout the instructional content.

Play

Dr. Abrams on her experience participating in the Foreign Language Teaching Methods course.

Duration: 01:37

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Beginning language teachers are often preoccupied with their performance in front of their students and may need to be encouraged to try out new practices that may mean risking failure and embarrassment. It can also be discouraging to realize that there is still much to learn. Nevertheless, the beginning teacher Elena found the large amount of new content in this online methods course to be intellectually stimulating. In fact, she notes that the course gave her a new perspective on language teaching.

Play

Elena a beginning language teacher reflects on what she got out of the course.

Duration: 00:52

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Elena describes teaching as an "active process?" How would you describe language teaching?