I'm sure most teachers out there would be dissuaded (and rightfully so) from committing themselves to being followers or practitioners of any particular language teaching method. There are plenty, however, who might call themselves fans or believers in certain kinds of approaches to what they do.
That's fine, but what IS your general approach to teaching and learning, then?
Does it have a name? Is that name of your own design or did somebody else come up with it?
It can be a fun and motivating process to try and name your approach using terminology you devise (for) yourself.
Don't worry! You are not joining a political party. You can drop or change the name and nature of your general approach whenever you feel the need.
Okay, so here's mine...
I call it EmLT - Emergent Language Teaching
Basically, my approach has a strong foundation in emergentism. I believe that everything starts within the learner - not just the language but also the motivation, the interests, and the potential talents and strengths. And when learners get together in a classroom environment, there is a certain emergentism of a social or group-based nature as well.
The art of my EmLT, if compared to different types of sculpture, is the type which focuses on sculpting an already existing block. The challenge is, in words very similar to master sculptor Michelangelo himself, to "free the human from the stone" and create a unique piece of art - one that can't really be replicated or mass-produced.
Note that this philosophy is very different to cast sculpture, which involves pouring liquid metal into a pre-made mold. A process which allows mass production of identical sculptures. A process (quite accurately) described as a manufacturing process.
It will come as little surprise to some readers that my EmLT has a lot in common with (and also potentially owes a lot to) Dogme ELT or 'Teaching Unplugged.' In all fairness to myself, this instinctive belief in emergentism started in me long before I'd ever heard of Dogme ELT, but also in fairness to Dogme, it was Dogme that helped me identify and hone certain beliefs and understanding in relation to my own teaching approach.
However, my EmLT is somewhat looser and more flexible than Dogme ELT as it has generally (so far) been described and discussed among ELTers. For example, I think EmLT potentially works as well with coursebooks as without (in other words, it doesn't necessarily need to be materials "lite"). It also has a looser interpretation of "conversation driven."
And, while the two share a strong belief that language and language learning is an emergent process,my EmLT sees emergentism as counting for far more than "just" language and communication. Perhaps Dogme ELT does as well, but just hasn't managed to describe or quantify that in a lot of detail yet. Correction: perhaps I haven't looked deeply enough into Dogme ELT yet to recognise and understand those broader implications of emergentism.
If Dogme ELT could be viewed as a continuum of sorts (with 'strong' and 'weak' directions), then I would place my EmLT in the mid-to-strong section.
And if Dogme ELT could be viewed as a socio-political philosophy (something I suspect Thornbury and Meddings might rather object to!), I would describe my EmLT as "Moderate with some occasional forays to the Left"!
In any case, my EmLT is an emerging concept and set of accompanying beliefs and experiments. You see, I also see teachers as emergent learners.
It's fun to explore. It's fun to make it mine.
Hey, I've even started a brand new category here on the blog (EmLT - Emergent Language Teaching) so that I can explore the ideas more and share them.
So there you have it. I might officially call myself a proponent of EmLT. That's what my approach is called.
What's yours called?
And once you've found a name for it (if you haven't already), don't you think it's about time we all heard a bit about it?