Initial Setbacks Leads to Effective Teaching

The abilities of children are boundless. And it is our job as teachers to exploit their abilities so that they will learn as much as possible in our limited once-a-week classes. Teachers must be responsible for the results they get in their classes ? and not blame the student for not achieving the teacher’s goals. In order to do this, the teacher has to be prepared to teach in many different ways to reach all his students.

Having experienced a lot of setbacks in my own early days of teaching, I used to blame the kids for not learning or keeping up even though we played a lot of games and had fun. However, in experimenting with various techniques, I soon found that it was my fault, the teacher, for not teaching so that the students could learn better. Students know whether or not they are progressing, and just playing games and singing songs eventually bore them, unless these things helped them retain what they learn. Considering what the kids like best, playing games, moving, singing, having challenge and succeeding, I wanted to put all the things they like to do in my lessons. So I decided if we can make the whole lesson game-like and fun, students will learn and have a good time, too.


Patching all the different ways I tried and tested, I came up with what I call the MAT METHOD. M stands for Model. How we model the new language affects how well our students learn. Instead of just having them repeat, we have to make it meaningful for them. A stands for Action. Action activates the brain, brings oxygen to the brain and gets kids (and adults) ready to think. It also helps them remember things better by activating the right side of the brain. T is for Talk. If the students don’t practice talking, they will not be able to make a conversation as they will not be using the left side of the brain which influences speech and long term memory. This Talk does not mean talking with the teacher, because it is often just repeating and this will not expedite speaking. Instead Talk has to be done between the students themselves. When students talk to each other, they remember better and can initiate a conversation by themselves. The MAT METHOD utilizes both sides of the brain at the same time and is an organized and systematic way to teach in a minimal amount of time.

Teaching Living English

The next step was to find a way for them to be able to talk naturally, not like robots or repeating like parrots. Even though students study English for many years, they are not able to understand native speakers and cannot even say simple sentences. This is because much of the emphasis is put on vocabulary and grammar. With the MAT METHOD students are taught whole sentences and question forms. They are taught systematically with the MAT Practice Keys which keeps the focus on the target language and keeps the lesson intensive, but fun, with unique practice techniques such as the 6-second DRILL. At the same time, natural speed, rhythm, intonation and good pronunciation is mastered. I call this, Living English. We teach how people really talk. Reading key words of the target language helps the students understand grammar without specific explanation. They are able to read the text and workbook and eventually can read and write smoothly. In this way the MAT METHOD teaches a balance of all four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Making Full Use of Limited Class Time

The MAT METHOD takes into account the various learning styles of the students so that one lesson will have variety that will motivate and interest all the students. This prevents level gaps and keeps the lesson moving at a fast pace with many activities for reinforcement. The teacher is talking less, and the students are talking and being involved 80% or more of class time.
The lessons are intensive and fun.

In my own classes in just a few months, I was able to get students to learn about 100 verbs and use them with all the basic tenses, infinitives, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc., that are saved for junior and senior high school English. They were asking and answering freely in natural speed, without mistakes. How was this possible? By using the MAT techniques!