In this ESL teaching guide, we will discuss the basics of teaching English as a second language to students from pre-school age to adults.
Basics of the ESL teaching guide
English is a very difficult language to learn. The basis of this ESL teaching guide is that the language needs to be made as simple as possible. Any language needs to be started by learning the basics, and this is especially true with English. That is because of the numerous verbs with multiple meanings that can cause confusion. The verb tenses of past, present, past perfect, and future cannot just be memorized to learn English. They need to be acquired through speaking and learning the language, not the verbs. Anyone learning grammar learns best by using the words in context. The content should be relevant and interesting to the age group. It also needs to respect the culture of the students learning the language.
Learn language, not grammar
Babies and young children learning English as their native tongue often use improper grammar, but they understand what they mean. Understanding is the first step in any ESL classroom and a basic of the ESL teaching guide. For beginning students, grammar is not important. It will be learned naturally through conversation, listening activities, reading, and observing. The learner will realize that the correct verb tenses as time goes on. Just as a baby says, “I go bye bye,” an ESL learner may say, “I go to the store last night.” Although this is not the correct grammatical word form, the student demonstrates that they comprehend the meaning of the verb in the way it is used. The next step is to teach the past tense of “went” to the student. Students eventually pick up the correct usage as they mature in their understanding of the language. Reading will also demonstrate the right way to use words.
Teachers should avoid using idioms at all costs
Idioms are so common in the English language that teachers may not realize that they are using them. They need to be very careful to not use them with students. This is another basic of the ESL teaching guide. It takes a very mature understanding of the language to know the meaning of an idiom. Teachers should skim over all reading passages that they are considering for their lesson plans to make sure that they are free from idioms. If not, the students’ comprehension will be negatively affected. The same applies to practice activities and other assignments. The best way for teachers to keep learning simple is to put themselves in their students’ position as the learner. They need to stop and evaluate whether or not the material they are using in a lesson plan will be easily understood or more confusing to students.
Visual aids help students learn
Many students learn through seeing an image or graphic of what they are learning about. This is helpful for all students in general, but especially for the ESL student. When the learner sees an object, he or she will naturally say the name of the item to themselves in their native tongue. Then, as the teacher tells them the word in the language they’re learning, the connection between the two is made in the brain. If it is repeated several times, along with visual aids, the chance of the student retaining the word and its meaning is greatly increased. Reviewing the word routinely can be helpful, but using the new vocabulary in conversation and in the written word is even better. New vocabulary should be used in the classroom each day in some form. Word walls are also helpful because students see the words and review them by themselves throughout the day.
Add humor and fun to the lesson
Another basic of the ESL teaching guide is that learning must be enjoyable for students. When the teacher adds an occasional touch of humor to the lesson, students’ attention span is increased. It is possible to add fun to lessons through the use of clip art on PowerPoint presentations and on worksheets that teachers give students for practice. Even older teens and adults appreciate a lively lesson that is interesting, challenging, and somewhat humorous. Humor is not being off-task if it is being used as a teaching method. It is actually building a communication bridge between the teacher and student. Humor and fun are powerful motivators that will encourage students to continue learning. That is why they are important in this ESL teaching guide.