Micro-teaching in english education
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013
Author: Melnikova Tatyana, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
The art of teaching does not merely involve a simple transfer of
knowledge from one to other. It is a long process that manages and has an
impact on the learning process. How much students understand and know from the
teacher shows the quality of the teacher.
The aim of this article is to highlight the need for using
micro-teaching more frequently and more effectively. A literature search of
articles and books on micro-teaching was undertaken from different databases.
‘The experience of observing can be as useful as the experience of
being observed, i.e. professional development for the two individuals involved’
Micro-teaching is a teacher training technique first developed by
Dwight W. Allen and his colleagues at Stanford University . In
micro-teaching, attention is focused on specific teaching skills, which are
practiced for short periods with a small group of students. The number of
students is usually from four to seven, and the period of time for the activity
is no more than twenty minutes, it may take five at least. Immediate feedback
on the micro-lesson is initially provided by means of videotape recordings, but
audiotapes, supervisors’ comments, pupils’ criticisms or some combinations of
these have also been used. On the basis of the feedback provided, the teacher
analyzes and restructures the lesson in order to teach it to a second group of
pupils. Again this is followed by feedback which is analyzed and evaluated for
improvement. By employing this ‘teach-reteach’ cycle, it is possible to give
the student teacher the opportunity to put into practice at once what he has
learned from the feedback on the first attempt.
Micro-teaching is a good way to learn strength and weaknesses in
teaching. Both the observer and observe can benefit from this kind of
experience. Generally, the main focus is not on the students and their work,
but on the student teacher who conducts the learning process.
The rationale for this approach to teacher training is that teaching
is a complex and demanding activity, involving techniques of organization,
control, and command of teaching skills well beyond the intending teacher at
the beginning of his course. Microteaching attempts to reduce the situation to
manageable proportions. The use of a videotape recorder allows both a visual
and sound recording of the teaching sessions, thus, providing an objective
reference for subsequent supervisory conferences and the use of evaluation
instruments designed to assist in the analysis of the teaching behavior
One of the major recent developments in micro-teaching is the
concept of technical skills of teaching. Technical skills are behaviors of
teachers which when utilized appropriately would lead to the accomplishment of
what are called "performance criteria." For example, in English a
major performance criterion might be that the student teacher can lead a
discussion of a poem in a way that actively involves his students. To accomplish
that performance criterion, the teacher would have to be able to question
skillfully. One aspect of questioning is the technical skill called
"probing”, which can be described as the type of questioning procedures a
teacher would use to draw his students beyond their original answers to his
question. For example, a student teacher can learn to ask his students
'Why?" "Can you give an example?" "Can you define
that?" in such a way, that he draws students beyond their first responses
to a question. Other technical skills involved in leading an engaging
discussion might be "reinforcement," the ability to reward students
in such a way that they are encouraged to contribute more to a discussion.
Something that has been given the awful label of "varying the stimulus"
is a technical skill which means simply that the student teacher learns not to
stand in one place, speak in the same monotone, and use the same gestures over
and over again. The technical skill of "using examples" is thought to
be particularly important for an English teacher, who is often involved in
discussing abstract concepts which must be brought down to a concrete level if
the students are to become intelligently involved in the discussion.
Operational definitions of specific teaching skills are essential to
microteaching. These teaching skills are derived from an analysis of the
teaching process into specific techniques. The technical-skills approach was
initially developed at Stanford . These technical skills (e.g. ‘using
higher-order questions’) are not linked with specific subject matter. As
McDonald puts it, “Each skill has an observable and easily countable teacher
response linked (with some exceptions) to a specified and also easily countable
student behavior. These response pairs are thus defined functionally and
independently of the substantive character of verbal utterances on the topic of
inter-change between student and teacher”.
One of the major problems of teacher training is to provide the
trainee with useful feedback on the adequacy of his teaching performance.
Micro-teaching is the method for a supervisor, a teacher, an observer to attend
a classroom lesson given by a student teacher, and subsequently to discuss it
with the student teacher. Inevitably the discussion takes place after the
lesson is over and the student may find it difficult to see in the supervisor’s
remarks an accurate picture of how he has behaved. While he is teaching, the
trainee is usually so involved that it is difficult for him to stand back and
consider his teaching behavior objectively.
Analyzing teaching into specific skills reduces the complexities of
teaching and gives direct practical guidance to the teacher about his/her
behavior desired. It also provides reliable criteria by which mastery of the skills
can be assessed, and makes possible research which investigates the
relationships between teaching skills and students’ behavior, as shown by
Perrott in their study of teachers’ higher order questions and pupils’
The main focus of microteaching sessions is on approaches to
teaching, not the content. Each 15-minutes lesson has a different thematic
focus to give a teacher opportunity to practice various teaching methods.
Microteaching is about more than content delivery. The goal is to
teach audience members about the topic and encourage their participation so to
be able to see what they have learned. When preparing a lesson, it is important
to consider ways to engage the audience in the lesson and select teaching
methods appropriate for the topic and audience . It is possible to start the
lesson by asking questions to find out what the audience already knows about
the topic (this is known as prior learning assessment). To make the lesson
interactive, it is considerable to use demos, questions, quizzes, games,
videos, think-pair-share, brainstorming and other techniques to help the
audience engage with the material and practice new knowledge.
One research suggests guidelines for presenters
1. The presenter must be prepared to teach for five to ten minutes;
requiring short presentations allows better evaluation of teacher’s techniques
used when teaching.
2. The student teacher must be mentally ready to teach on the
certain day. It is necessary to agree upon this question beforehand when it is
decided to check and evaluate the teacher’s skills. The teacher trainer gives
the student teacher advance warning that they will teach in front of the group
of people, not necessarily be students. This is fair and necessary, as it reduces
the amount of stress and prepares teachers mentally for observation.
3. The presenter must use English to teach. The purpose of using
only English is to improve the presenter’s English proficiency and teacher
talk, which is the ability to give clear and correct instructions and
explanations in the classroom.
If seeing micro-teaching from the teacher observer’s side there
should be made some recommendations for them as well:
1. The teacher trainer may give thematic suggestions for the lesson.
Some sample themes include: types of classroom interactions, cooperative
learning, productive questioning strategies, appropriate listening tasks,
successful reading strategies, the use of writing prompts, techniques to teach
2. The teacher trainer also gives students an evaluation checklist
for each class. The evaluation checklist should reflect the theme of the
course. For example, if the theme is “types of classroom interactions,” the
evaluation check-list might include the following items:
How many different students were called upon?
Was the lesson appropriate for the tar-get student profile?
Did every student speak in complete sentences? Why or why not?
How many times did students speak with each other?
How many times did students ask the teacher a question?
Before the student teacher starts microteaching, the teacher trainer
reviews the evaluation check list to make sure each item is understood.
3. After a student teacher has presented a microteaching lesson, the
teacher trainer gives as many students as possible a chance to provide
feedback. After they have given feedback, the teacher trainer supplies
additional feedback that the students may have missed.
4. The teacher trainer corrects any teacher talk errors. Many
believe that this feedback is more important than feedback on errors of
technique or approach. Since some may make a lot more errors than others, the
teacher trainer must use time wisely by selecting the errors students may not
know how to correct .
Lesson planning: having clear cut objectives, and an appropriate
Set induction: the process of gaining pupil attention at the
beginning of the class.
Presentation: explaining, narrating, giving appropriate
illustrations and examples, planned repetition where necessary.
Stimulus variation: avoidance of boredom amongst students by
gestures, movements, focusing, silence, changing sensory channels etc.
Proper use of audio: visual aids.
Reinforcement: recognizing pupil difficulties, listening,
encouraging pupil participation and response.
Questioning: fluency in asking questions, passing questions and
Silence and nonverbal cues (body language).
Closure: method of concluding a teaching session so as to bring out
the relevance of what has been learnt, its connection with past learning and
its application to future learning.
Microteaching is an important education component that gives chances
of teaching practice to pre-service teachers . Therefore, microteaching
presents advantages like self-confidence, seeing and fulfilling the
shortcomings, learning different methods and techniques . So, the place of
microteaching in education is important. This is a result indicated by different
According to the results of the survey micro-teaching has proved to
be an efficient and effective technique in teacher training programmes.
The teacher trainee is made aware of the various skills of which
teaching is composed. Selected skills are chosen and discussed in a briefing
session. Microteaching simulates the classroom scene and gives the teacher
trainee an experience of real teaching. Feedback enables the teacher trainee to
consciously eradicate or give up irritating habits and mannerisms. The teacher
trainee can focus his/her attention on clearly defined aspects of his/her
behavior. Patterns of classroom interaction and communication between the
teacher and the students san be objectively and easily studied. Microteaching
focuses attention on the modification of teacher behavior and improvement of
interaction process involved in the teaching learning process.
The major premise underlying the concept of micro-teaching is that
the complex teaching act can be split into component skills – each simple,
well-defined and limited. These skills can be identified, practiced, evaluated,
controlled and acquired through training.
A large number of skills have been identified. The first effort made
by Allen and Ryan resulted in identifying fourteen skills. These skills have
been chosen as they foster teacher-pupil interaction, particularly as they
belong to the four areas of motivation, presentation, recapitulation and
questioning. These are the skills of:
- Set introduction;
- Stimulus variation;
- Blackboard writing;
It is of utmost importance in micro-teaching to give feedback.
Feedback ensures that we move forward efficiently and enhance our knowledge,
skills, abilities and relationship with others. The best feedback is always
specific, detailed, timely, and respectful.
It is required to give and receive feedback that will provide tools
for improvement rather than providing general comments. It should be noted that
there must be focus on a few specific items.
It is common to start with a positive comment. Pointing out
strengths is an admirable skill that is very important to building each other’s
The comment made should be positive and non-judgmental. It is
required to replace YOU with I, and focus on the design and delivery of the
lesson rather than on the personal attributes of the presenter.
Effective feedback is immediate and frequent. It is specifically
tied to the event being evaluated and given often.
Listening closely to the feedback given to you during the session is
really important. It is often easy to be consumed by suggestions for
improvement (constructive criticism). It is just as important to focus on
strengths as it is to enhance your areas for improvement.
The very strengths of micro-teaching which I have discussed lead me
to question whether micro-teaching as I have described it is appropriate for a
program of English education. Micro-teaching is an outgrowth of behaviorist
psychology. It reflects a behaviorist view of the world. Micro-teaching trains’
teachers to perform in ways those who are running the program think are good.
Like a programed teaching machine, the goals of micro-teaching have been set by
those who administer the program; the goals are then analyzed in terms of their
component parts, and a pattern is devised that will lead the teacher trainee
to perform in the desired way, or at least at some minimal criteria level. The
main technique of supervision in the micro-teaching process is to selectively
reward or reinforce behaviors which approximate the skills we are trying to
teach and to criticize those behaviors which do not lead the trainee to behave
in the way we think he should.
In educating teachers of English there could not be a presumption to
come up with a list of skills which it would be necessary for all of our
prospective teachers to perform. Even if we thought we knew of some skills that
might be useful, we would object to training our students to perform them;
instead, we would present them for their critical examination and let them
decide whether they are appropriate for the kinds of teachers that they want to
be. Education as opposed to training presumes an interest in presenting and
sharing with students experiences which will lead to self-insight and insight
into the relationship between the type of human beings they are and the type of
teachers they will be. In a process of education we would be interested in
presenting them with experiences which encourage them to develop confidence in
what they are and what they want to be, not in experiences in which the focus
is on being trained to be what others want them to be. Basic to education is a
faith in the nature of our interns because we assume that they want to be the
best they can be. Training, on the other hand, seems to me to say, We will
shape you to be what we want you to be; we don't have much confidence in you.
Training looks to standardization rather than diversity, constraints and
requirements rather than options and freedom. The main concern I hope my
questions have raised is whether we are using and will use micro-teaching to
mould and shape our future teachers or whether we can devise ways of using it
which would be more consistent with the aims of an educational experience.
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1969. Microteaching. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
2. Allen, Dwight, and Wang, Weiping. 1996. Microteaching. Beijing, China: Xinhua Press.
3. Allen, Mary E., and Belzer, John
A. 1997. "The Use of Microteaching to Facilitate Teaching Skills of
Practitioners Who Work with Older Adults." Gerontology and Geriatrics
Education 18 (2):77.
4. Borg, Walter R.; Kelley,
Marjorie L.; Langer, Philip; and Gall, Meredith D. 1970. The Mini Course: A
Microteaching Approach to Teacher Education. Beverly Hills, CA: Macmillan.
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Manual. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
8. McGarvey, Brian, and Swallow,
Derek. 1986. Microteaching in Teacher Education and Training. Dover, NH: Croom Helm.
9. McIntyre, Donald; Macleod, Gordon;
and Griffiths, Roy. 1977. Investigations of Microteaching. London: Croom Helm.
10. Turney, Cliff; Cairns L.; Williams, G.; and Hatton, N. 1975. Sydney Micro Skills. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
11. Turney, Cliff; Clift, John C.;
Dunkin, Michael J.; and Traill, Ronald D. 1973. Microteaching: Research, Theory
and Practice. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
12. Vare, Jonathan W. 1994.
"Partnership Contrasts: Microteaching Activity as Two Apprenticeships in
Thinking." Journal of Teacher Education 45 (3): 209.
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013