There is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching English language learners. Every ELT course, teacher and student is different, and that means the teachers will have different methods of instruction. That said, there are some common ones we can explore together:
A communicative approach focuses on practical use of language in real situations through a contextualized dialogic process with an emphasis on developing students’ pragmatic competence.
An explicit grammar teaching method uses explicit rules instead of implicit understanding, e.g., memorizing rules for subject verb agreement or the difference between past tense verbs and past participle verbs when used as adjectives.
An integrated approach, on the other hand, taught features of a language such as phonetics and grammar in the same lesson.
A communicative approach is a good choice for ESL teaching because it allows for lesson planning that differs from one class to another depending on the levels of proficiency, interests and needs of the students. It also helps students feel more comfortable with the teacher, and builds their confidence since they’re able to use real language in their classes.
An explicit grammar approach is a good option for students who already have a solid knowledge of English grammar — i.e. they already know how to use grammar properly, but just need some fine-tuning through review.
A combination of methods is a good option for ELT teachers because it allows them to implement different approaches depending on their students’ needs. For example, they can use a communicative approach in class while providing the students with more explicit grammar explanations at home.
An integrated approach is a good choice for introducing new material because it allows teachers to teach all aspects of language — pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and dialogues — in an integrated way. It also feels more natural to students since it uses real language with which they’re already familiar.
A common misconception with an integrated approach is that it doesn’t properly cover grammar. On the contrary, integrated lessons allow teachers to hit all the grammar points that they need to cover in a single lesson. It’s not uncommon to have students use words like “be going,” where they can practice the past tense and present progressive at the same time!
Other ELT approaches include global, functional, audio-lingual and immersion methods.
For global teachers, the focus of their lessons is on communication and teaching culture through English rather than on grammar.