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Product and process Print E-mail

 

Experts inform us of different approaches and how to use them, but we must not forget that our students don’t know about these theories. Some students want to know what the end product looks like before they start to learn. Others are more interested in the process of how to get there than the final product, confirming what experts have said for some time that not all students are the same. For them, the journey is more important than the destination.

 

I believe that sometimes teachers forget the problems they encountered when they try to learn something and so fail to understand their students when they experience difficulties.

 

I recount that when I was studying for a course, I had difficulty knowing how to write my first thesis. To the amazement of the rest of the class, I asked if I could see one before I attempted my own. My supervisor brought three to class the next day and all of a sudden my classmates were very interested in seeing the final product.

 

The shortage of teachers and the large class sizes that result from this, do not allow teachers sufficient time to individually analyse their students learning needs; however, it is possible to follow a product and process approach to learning, which might help the majority of students in the class.

 

An example of how this has worked in one of my classes, is when preparing to teach an English writing exercise for a class of chemistry majors. I would show them the finished product and then we would go through the process in class so they know how to get there.

 

I have found that the finished product can stimulate the students to see the context of what they are doing and how it fits into the overall scope of things. The process will give them the tools to complete the task and then with help and support, they will be able to complete similar tasks on their own.

 

This has also worked for interviews and presentations, where I have shown the students DVDs of previous students completing the tasks required and then challenged them to do the same or even better depending on the major of the students.

 

The majority of students have responded favourably; however, there will always be some who need more individual attention and this can be overcome by group-work and monitoring by the teacher to give the required support where necessary.

 

There is no foolproof method; though in my opinion, teachers need to experiment in their classrooms to find out ways to produce the best possible results. I am not referring to examination results; I mean that effective learning is taking place in the classroom.
 

In order to bring the best out of our students, teachers must not be afraid to experiment with new ideas and techniques. The problem here is that some will work and some will fail. Too often teachers are afraid to try out new ideas for fear of failure.

 

Not all new methodologies will work with every class, so teachers have to use their judgement as to which ones they deem suitable for their class and then give it a go. This will involve a certain amount of trial and error; however, nothing ventured nothing gained.

 

A recent article in the Bangkok Post informed us of a two day language workshop run by the Surin Red Cross Society and provincial office where twenty five students from five public high schools were taught by ten foreign volunteers who live in the area and have married into the local community.

 

Activities involved the instructors and students going out and about using English in real contexts, mainly for tourism. When this project was first devised, there was no guarantee that it would be a success. Someone had the foresight to think of this approach and then have the determination to see it through. Fear of failure did not hold them back and the project was a considered a success by all those that took part.

 

This project is yet another example of what can be done by people who are determined to improve the English language ability of Thai students. I believe that local administrators need to give support to their teachers that show initiative and are prepared to experiment with new ideas and methodologies.

 

Jirayu Homrod showing the final product.
 

Jirayu Homrod showing the final product.
(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 05th February 2008)

 

 

 
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