Teaching aids are known and described by various nomenclatures. For example, the same concept is referred to as instructional materials, teaching apparatus, instructional technology, and instructional technological aids. The basic idea that runs through all these names is that of ‘ other help’ or assistants in the process of teaching. In order words, teaching aids are assistants to the teacher in the process of teaching. Teaching is a complex task. It is ’’a process whereby one person mediates between another person and the substance of this world to facilitate learning‘’ ( Saylor G. 1981:45). To accomplish the task of teaching effectively, the teacher needs a helper, an assistant and this is in the form of the teaching aids.
The usefulness of teaching aids in the teaching process especially in the teaching of language cannot be overemphasized. Teaching aids in language teaching help the teacher as well as the pupils. They lessen the burden of presentation of the subject matter on the part of the teacher thereby minimizing his efforts but maximizing the output. Teaching aids can be used to start, explain or review the lesson. Specifically, teaching aids in language teaching are helpful in arousing the learners’ interest, sustaining learners’ interest, making the lesson lively and interesting, making teaching and learning easy and profitable, ensuring pupils’ active participation in the lesson, making concepts clearer and understandable, aiding learners’ memory, encouraging creative, logical and innovative thinking, eradicating boredom and helping the teacher to cover a lot of grounds, and many others.
There are many teaching aids that can be used in the teaching of language in schools. Teaching aids are generally of three types going by the general terms ‘audio-visual aids’. The three types are audio,, visual, and audio-visual aids. Audio materials are those that can only be heard or listened to. Examples of audio materials are recorded players, cassette players, radio, etc. Visual aids are those materials that can be seen without sound. Examples are chalkboards, wall charts, flannelgraph boards, portable blackboards, film strips, and motion pictures (without voice). Whereas audio-visual aids are those that can be heard and seen together at the same time. Examples are film strips, film slides, motion pictures (with voice), opaque projectors, video, cassette players, television, closed circuit television, etc. all the materials that have been identified as audio, visual, and audio-visual aids are very relevant in the teaching of topics in the language in schools.
There is no topic or skill that can be taught in any language without a teaching aid or rather there is no topic/skill that does not need the application of teaching aids no matter how simple the topics or skill. The language teacher needs to be very creative and innovative in determining the teaching aids that are relevant to a topic. Language teachers need to go through the subject matter and the presentation carefully in order to discover an area where teaching aid is very necessary. Teaching aids should be selected in consonance with the topic, the objectives, and the method(s) of teaching.
Teaching aids prepared for a lesson in language teaching are meant to be used during the lesson and not as a matter of decoration. As such, language teachers must not forget to use the aids at the appropriate time in the lesson. The aids must be used on time and appropriately too in order to realize their purpose in the teaching-learning process.
Language teachers need to be resourceful in the provision and management of teaching aids for language teaching. “Teaching aid bank” for language teaching can be created. Pupils can also contribute newspaper cuttings of relevant materials to the bank. Pupils can also bring real objects to the class. Such should be returned after use. Aids that have been used for a lesson should be properly kept and stored in a safe place for retrieval at another relevant time.
The language teacher and the classroom management
The language teacher is a specialist in most of the secondary schools and all the tertiary institutions in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, in many private and primary schools, language teachers are specialists. This trend is not expected to be a feature of private institutions alone. It should be a permanent feature of all public institutions, be it primary, secondary, or tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The language teacher should keep on studying. He should not be satisfied alone with the training he received in his college or university days. He attends conferences, workshops, and seminars in his subject area and so on in the teaching profession. Such will help him keep abreast with the new teaching methods, discoveries, and knowledge in his field. A lazy person cannot be a language teacher and if he is, he cannot be effective and successful.
Also, the language teacher is a model teacher. He is a model in the use of the language he teaches. He is a model both for his students as well as his colleagues in the school. He is expected to be a competent user of the language both for the students and his colleagues as well. The language teacher is looked up to resolve any problem in the use of the language. He should live up to the expectation.
Classroom management is a major duty of the language teacher. Language classes should be properly managed so as to bring about the realization of the objectives of the teaching function. Classroom management is directly related to the management of instruction and management of instruction refers to the actual execution of the plan of instruction. Factors that enhance the management of instruction are as follows:
Flexibility: The teacher should not be excessively rigid in applying class or school rules.
Understanding: The teacher must have an adequate understanding of the pupils. He must understand the student’s learning patterns, interests, and differences.
Presentation: The teacher should adequately prepare, organize, and present instruction so that pupils will be well-motivated, interested, and ready to learn.
Dignity: The teacher’s dignity should not suffer before the pupils.
Firmness: Teachers should be fair, firm, and consistent in handling disciplinary matters. Reinforcement in reward ad punishment should be used wisely.
Classroom management involves taking certain precautionary measures against the likely incidence of the disorder in the classroom. It also demands nipping such problems in the bud. The following are some techniques that can be adopted by language teachers for effective class control in language teaching:
- Adoption of a friendly and firm attitude toward the students
- Establishment and use of class rules
- Ensuring that every pupil is constructively engaged/occupied
- Use of positive behavior modification technique
- Careful observation and cultivation of a watchful attitude to prevent the breakdown of classroom control
- Handling serious problems promptly and impartially
- Display authority and confidence
- Arrange the learners in order
- Provide enough work to do. Provide extra-curricular activities
Physical environment and equipment are parts of the3 classroom management. As much as possible the teacher should ensure the conduciveness of the classroom environment and make sure that the equipment is neatly and well arranged and the school environment is attractive. The teacher should interact with the school authority on issues that are beyond his control in class management especially those bordering on the physical environment and equipment.
Testing and Evaluation in Language Teaching
Testing and evaluation in language teachings are ways of providing feedback to language teachers on what the pupils have succeeded in learning. Testing can be described as a process of giving tests to students in order to receive feedback from them. A test, therefore, is an instrument used to measure a pupil’s learning environment. Testing is not only important to the language teacher but also it is important to the pupils, educational planners, and curriculum developers.
There are different types of language tests. Three kinds of language tests are briefly discussed.
Aptitude Test: This is meant to indicate a personal facility for acquiring specific skills and learning. This is commonly used in entrance examinations.
Proficiency Test: This is a test that tests what the learner is capable of doing, as a result of his cumulative learning experience. An example is a general paper test in any final examination.
Achievement Test: This test indicates the extent to which the learner has mastered his specific skills or body of information acquired within the context of a formal learning situation. An example is the final examination at the end of a course.
Characteristics of good language test
There are four characteristics of a good language test. There are validity, reliability, objectivity, and economy. Validity refers to the extent to which the test, tests what it claims to be testing. Reliability has to do with the consistency of the test in measuring what it is supposed to measure again and again. Whereas objectivity ensures that each question has one and only one correct answer. The economy has to do with good construction and the in-built construction mechanism of a test. In planning and conducting effective language tests the following should be considered:
- The objectives of the course must be kept in focus.
- Allot a time to be spent on each question.
- Prepare the test items and the marking guides.
- Assess the test. See if it is valid, reliable, economic, al and objective.
- Administer the test.
Evaluation is a process of passing a value judgment on a thing after logical consideration of a set of measurements. Evaluation is a continuous, all-embracing process involving assessment, feedback and decision-making. The outcome of the evaluation is for making decisions on education or on the particular program of education, eg language teaching. Formative and summative evaluations are two types of evaluation. Formative evaluation is the assessment of a program at regular intervals before the end of the program, whereas summative evaluation is the final assessment of the program.
In evaluating a language program, issues to be involved are the students-home and language background, etc, teaching facilities – the teacher, learning environment, teaching aids, and the teaching curriculum, methods, syllabuses, and lessons.
Language program evaluation can be conducted by the teacher, a team of language specialists and students can equally be given the opportunity by asking them to give their opinions about the programme.
The teaching of language is a must in schools. The teaching and learning of language in schools are bedeviled with many problems. The government, community, parents, teachers, and students should play their t roles adequately for effective teaching and learning of language in schools. Such will ensure national development through language.