Thursday, April 26, 2012

How To Teach ESL To Young Students With Little Or No Knowledge Of English

English as a Second Language favorite things o...
English as a Second Language favorite things on display in June (Photo credit: Newton Free Library)
By Brian M Giles

Explaining the mechanics of the English language to young students with little or no background knowledge of English demands a teacher who is not only highly qualified and experienced but also equipped with the necessary skill set.

Teaching children in a language different from their native language requires first and foremost patience. Children can get restless and bored very quickly if they are unable to understand what is going on in the class.

It may be easy to misinterpret such restlessness as bad behavior, when in reality it is simply the result of students' inability to understand what is going on in the classroom.

On the other hand, students can become very engaged and interested if the teacher can find a way to communicate with them. To accomplish this, teachers should ideally have the ability to interact with the children in a fun manner, using not only language but also gestures, facial expressions, motions, and even pictures drawn on the white board when necessary. This keeps students' interest in the classroom and ultimately leads to a class that is learning quickly.

With the right teacher, kids who are learning ESL can learn fast, and their parents can be highly satisfied, but this is true only if they are given a suitable learning environment. This is especially true when teaching ESL grammar, which students often find particularly vexing.

During ESL grammar classes, the teacher may notice the students' attention drifting away, and behavior problems might creep into the class. This is due at least in part because of the complexities of understanding English grammar.

The large number of tenses and the complex, specific grammar rules can make learning the English language a very difficult process for foreign students - especially those of a young age.

Therefore, in addition to the patience and techniques described above, teachers of ESL or EFL must have a broad and deep knowledge of English grammar, including an understanding of tenses and parts of speech as well as a clear idea of what needs to be done to explain these to students.

Some languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, make little or no use of tenses, so teachers must coax their students to begin not only speaking in the past and future tense, but also learning to think in terms of the past, the future, and the other time intervals associated with English tenses.

However, young students do not respond well to simple lectures, so it is imperative to communicate concepts such as complex grammar rules using games, activities, and fun methods that the students can relate to.

By doing so, teachers can guide students to begin using English in a natural and appropriate way, and this can pay dividends for years to come in terms of not only their education but also their future success in life and work.

ESL grammar exercises that are informative and enjoyable should be incorporated into ESL classes on a regular basis. Need ideas for your own classes? Follow this link for some useful ESL Grammar Games

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