Classroom Observation & Practical English Teaching Reflective Essay

Classroom Observation & Practical Language Teaching


The current essay focuses on discussing the selected teaching approaches and methodologies implemented in the course of English teaching to the adult employees at Fusion Systems, Ltd. The essay concerns such aspects of language training as curriculum planning, possible practical solutions and approaches to reinforcement of lexical retrieval abilities among the students, expanding grammatical diversity in students’ speech etc. The essay also concerns in more detail various correction approaches and corrective feedback strategies that I deemed most effective in view of the course given.

Initiation of the Teaching Cycle and Preparatory Activity

Considering the psychosocial aspects of the group selected for future language instruction, it was undeniably important to investigate the scope of learning, the intended learning outcomes (Biggs, Tang, 2011) and what results the students anticipated, in contrast to the normative needs (Bradshaw, 1972) stipulated by the instructor. The teaching practice that I will be discussing includes three major aspects that contribute to its slightly unconventional teaching process:

  • During the preliminary discussions with the group supervisor, the goals of the future learning were clearly established. I was given much insight into what exactly the students wanted to learn and what outcomes they anticipated. Thus, conventional needs analysis did not take place, since the expressed and felt needs of the learners were discussed in detail. Normative needs assessment took place in the beginning of the first session, of which I will talk further in the essay.
  • Due to limited study time in the facility, the number of hours scheduled for language instruction did not allow us to pursue overly ambitious goals, therefore, as a result of the preliminary discussions with the group supervisor, the intended learning process was referred to as a ‘crash course in Business English’, scheduling 4 sessions, 1,5 h. each.
  • The preliminary assessment of language proficiency of the students proposed by the supervisor was set to A2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), hence restricting the supposed learning process to the basic business-related vocabulary and communicative functions, which excludes grammatical patterns and lexis that the students might not be ready to acquire (i.e. conditionals, advanced vocabulary in use etc.).

After having identified preliminary settings, topics and roles, I have arranged the relevant scenarios that would fairly contribute into curriculum development. In the scope of the planned sessions, the students were anticipated to learn how to arrange a business meeting in English. In view of this goal, I included three underlying scenarios and communicative contexts which I deemed most important for the topic in the syllabus. Furthermore, the indicated scenarios were to define the vocabulary and grammatical structures relevant to the established goal. Thus, the syllabus featured three major scenarios relevant to the topic of the course:

  • Arranging time and date of the meeting.
  • Arranging location of the meeting.
  • Enquiring about the necessary facilities and equipment for the meeting.

Thus, communicative functions of the language were given a major focus, comprising a synthetic syllabus that could serve our purpose. All of the above mentioned scenarios implied learning of the communicative vocabulary that serves the stipulated goals, e.g. time- and date-related vocabulary (cardinal and ordinal numbers in arranging time and date), prepositions of place (at, behind, on, by etc.), prepositions of direction (while giving and receiving instructions on how to find the meeting location), collocational chunks that are frequent in the scenarios given (e.g., can you make Friday?), lexis related to office equipment (e.g. lexical items like beamers, whiteboards etc.).

The supposed grammatical input included in the syllabus featured learning (if necessary) and applying the following structures:

  • Present Simple Tense
  • Future Simple Tense
  • Pragmatic structures used in polite requests (would you/could you…)
  • Word order (interrogative mood, indicative mood)

The syllabus implied that all of the learning activities were sequenced in relation to grammatical commentary and vocabulary building by putting the newly acquired lexis and chunks in use. Thus, for instance, after a brief exposure to a grammatical rule (verb declination in Present Simple Tense) the students were asked to come up with examples of their own, engaging in a higher order thinking activity in a deductive manner of learning, giving relevant linguistic output and a basis for the evaluation of understanding of the concepts in focus. That allowed me to keep track of students’ performance, their retention and lexical retrieval abilities.

Teaching Approaches and Learning Activities

In the beginning of the teaching cycle, I provided the students with a common communicative pattern in English by introducing myself, stating my age, country of origin, area of expertise and personal interests. After that, the students were asked to tell something about themselves in a similar manner. By following the paradigm Presentation – Production – Practice, I was also pursuing two additional goals:

  • Make a preliminary assessment of the students’ command of English, noting pronunciation struggles, diversity of the vocabulary and grammatical structures in use.
  • Make a step forward in order to relieve the tension among the students, thus contributing into the psychological aspect of motivation referred to as ‘relatedness’ (Ryan, Deci, 2017).

It was of utmost importance that the students had a clear idea of what they were supposed to achieve by completing the course. Thus, a clear intended learning outcome was stipulated in the beginning of the first session. The students were informed that by the end of the course, they were expected to be able to arrange a meeting, conveying three underlying aspects of this scenario, i.e., enquiring and making confirmations about time, date, location of the event and the necessary equipment using the vocabulary relevant to the current level of English and the scenario given.

In the teaching process, I put function before form, so the students were not excessively exposed to a grammatical input. In the teaching cycle my intention was to combine deductive and inductive methodologies, putting more effort into developing competencies both in form and function. Nevertheless, communicative competency and inductive learning (Thornbury, 1999) were emphasized. Thus, for instance, isolated sentences featuring chunks like ‘is there … I could use?’ in the ‘checking for facilities’ section were presented and produced in an inductive sequence of tasks (fill in the gaps, role play), putting it in a relevant communicative context, facilitating and reinforcing acquisition of the new vocabulary in use and self-made discovery of the grammatical patterns that govern syntax in such sentences. This allowed me to keep track of the improvements that the students made further using their own hypotheses and address the issues they encountered.

Every session began with a brief recapitulation of the material discussed and processed earlier, so the students could consequently connect all aspects of what they did with what they learned. Having observed one of Mrs. Spranger’s lessons and following one of her teaching models, I also made use of a transient playful task that involved sensory-motor activity. Thus, towards the end of a lesson, I used the last 10 minutes of the session to recapitulate what the students had learned, exercising their working memory. I asked the students to pass a ball among each other and whoever had the ball in hands was expected to put one particular word or a useful phrase that we had previously discussed throughout the session in a meaningful context (in assertion or in a question). Playful activity and sensory-motor input reinforced engagement and facilitated lexical retrieval processes, building up better retention of the learning material. While implementing all of the approaches discussed, I also abstained from praise until the students acquired and applied the learning material in the designated manner.

Problems, Limitations and General Observations

In regard to error correction methodology, I made use of elicitation, recast and meta-linguistic cues (Tedick, de Gotari, 1998), avoiding explicit correction that could discourage the students, which also contradicted to the Knowle’s principle of adult learning asserting that ‘adults like to be respected’. In the context given, I assumed that explicit correction would violate this principle.

After having identified stronger students and students who struggled, I rearranged the classroom in the sessions that followed, placing the pairs in accordance with the principle where stronger students could support those who found the learning process more challenging. The group also included a student who suffered from a language disorder called rhoticism. Thus, for instance, when the student tried to say ‘sorry’ [‘sɔrɪ], it sounded like ‘so we’ [‘sɔwɪ]. Although this particular case might significantly damage intelligibility of oral speech, I did not address this issue, since it was outside of the pedagogue’s competence to improve the pronunciation skills caused by a physical speech disorder.

The group also featured 2 students who could be described in Krashen’s terms as ‘monitor over-users’, who tended to correct themselves even when they were right using particular grammatical structures, which made their speech hesitant and hindered fluency. Those students were asked to pay a little less attention to correctness per se, and rather focus on the content of what they wanted to say. I also assured them that if their speech featured errors that would significantly damage intelligibility, I would instantly assist them in making the necessary corrections. Henceforth, the tendencies to self-correct in the middle of utterances among those students slightly improved and they made more attempts to speak as fluent as possible.

In the course of the teaching practice, I identified three major areas of improvement:

  • My teaching needs to allow more autonomy for the students in the matters of individual and pair work, making the learning process on the whole more learner-centered.
  • It also needs to be noted that not all of the issues brought up in class were addressed due to restricted time. Thus, instances of epenthesis and syntactic simplifications were not fully addressed in class.
  • My teaching also needs to include more media sources that would allow the students to practice listening skills in more detail using authentic audio input. In that regard, true/false tasks relevant to the topic could be of use.


During teaching practice, I found it necessary to continuously improve the instructional design principles, adapting the learning strategies and materials to the student’s needs and abilities. It is also important to keep track of student’s progress by continuously evaluating the relevant linguistic output in the view of the intended learning outcomes of the course. The essay has provided a brief account of the implications into teaching English as a second language.


Badger, I. (2003). Everyday Business English. Penguin Longman Publishing

Badger, I., Menzies, P. (2005). English for Business Life Elementary. MC/Summertown ELT

Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

Bradshaw, J. (1972). Taxonomy of social need. In: McLachlan, Gordon, (ed.) Problems and progress in medical care: essays on current research, 7th series. Oxford University Press, London.

Knowles, M. S. (1975). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy. New York: Association Press.

Krashen, S. D. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. London: Longman.

Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

Tedick, D.J., Gortari, B.D., & Spanish, G. (1998). Research on Error Correction and Implications for Classroom Teaching.

Thornbury, S. (1999). How to Teach Grammar. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.