Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
One of the most rewarding and satisfying jobs in teaching is in helping students learn the English language. Once these children have the ability to speak and understand English, the doors to success in all other subjects are open to them. Until they achieve mastery of English, many students have a difficult time with the entire school experience.
Teachers who are working with students to learn English can do a number of things to make the process smoother and help students transition quicker.
Teach entirely in English: Teachers who speak the language throughout the entire class without reverting to other languages actually are helping the students by forcing them to concentrate only on English. It is beneficial for the student to consistently hear the context of the language spoken and reply back in the same manner.
Don’t get hung up on grammar: Students will feel more comfortable and confident when they are not constantly being corrected for grammar. Grammar will come in time, but the foundational understanding of the language and being able to express thoughts is what counts.
Make it a game: There are many ways to make learning English fun. Games such as puzzles, board games and other activities can make the experience pleasurable and push the student to try harder and want to participate in the lesson.
Use only positive feedback: Congratulating every effort and achievement regardless of the size builds the necessary self-esteem for students to continue their journey of learning English.
Personalize the experience: Teachers should join in and participate in any lessons. Sitting down with students and playing the games allows the teacher to see up close the progress being made and gives the teacher the opportunity to use positive feedback on the spot.
These are just some of the many ways ESL teachers can make the process of learning English enjoyable, interesting and most importantly – effective. For many, this skill will open up an entirely new way of life and launch a successful school career.