ACCESS believes that learning comes from within, and that our instructors’ job is to guide and facilitate our students in their journey to proficiency. Our goal is to construct a safe and comfortable learning environment that, yet, challenges and stimulates the students to work with the English language. Instructors devise activities both inside and outside of the classroom that challenge our students to investigate both language and culture, while becoming familiar with the academic conventions of a U.S. university.
ACCESS does not subscribe exclusively to one teaching approach, methodology, or theory of acquisition; rather, we take an eclectic approach. The core of the ACCESS philosophy is that language learning comes from within, and the learner is, properly, the center of the learning environment. Learning is a process, and the journey is as important as the destination.
The instructor’s role is to guide and facilitate learning by providing appropriate resources, effective learning strategies, and productive, timely, honest feedback on the learner’s progress. Most importantly, however, the instructor must devise active opportunities for learner engagement with the language both inside the classroom, and outside it. Teacher talk time should be minimal, and the class time should be devoted to students’ productive language use. The teacher needs to create a safe, cooperative learning environment, wherein the learner feels free to take risks. CLT techniques are frequently employed in encouraging students to develop speaking fluency, but while we encourage communicative competence, we do not do so at the expense of linguistic competence.
There is no grammar course in our curriculum: instructors are encouraged to focus on form within a meaningful context rather than on forms, employing discovery grammar techniques and looking for the “teachable moment”. We encourage learners to take responsibility for their learning, and work with instructors to develop active strategies for developing proficiency. However, we are aware of the importance of awareness-raising, and that in some areas of acquisition, the learner needs more than simply comprehensible input in order to make accurate hypothesis.
Instructors may also employ project and collaborative learning methods when appropriate. Importantly, we tie assessment directly to productive output for the skills of speaking and writing. Assessment is longitudinal, holistic, and performance based, focusing on student achievement. Students learn to actively engage with the language rather than rely on passively absorbing content from an “expert” source. This concept influences instructional approach and task design.