Saturday, June 9, 2012

Teaching ESL: How To Make Students Sound Like Native Speakers

Native English Speakers,
Native English Speakers, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Aaron Whirl

Teaching English as a Second Language is a challenging process, as it can be endlessly frustrating to get students to sound like native speakers. This is not only due to differences in pronunciation, but also in the vocabulary knowledge of the students.

Perhaps the best shortcut to get ESL students sounding like natural, fluent English speakers is to introduce them to the wide array of phrasal verbs (multi-word verbs) that native speakers regularly pepper their sentences with.

However, it can be very difficult to teach phrasal verbs to students. Many standard vocabulary lists will eschew these multi-word verbs, preferring instead to focus on more formal vocabulary words. Similarly, students' tests will often tend to focus more on these formal vocabulary words, giving little weight to phrasal verbs. For example, many textbooks will introduce the word "discover", whereas the multi-word verb "find out" is more commonly used by native speakers.

It is therefore up to the teacher to make a point to introduce useful phrasal verbs, use these regularly in class, and perhaps even bring in worksheets to review and reinforce these words in students' minds.

Worksheets are especially useful in this case, because these phrases - most of which are comprised of a simple, familiar verb paired with one or two particles - can be difficult for non-native English speakers to fully grasp and begin using correctly.

It is also useful to introduce students to clips of movies, TV shows, or radio programs, as these are often full of phrasal verbs, and hearing these words in context will make it much easier for the students to remember them. After awhile, students will find that they are using these words in their own speech, and this will in turn make it much easier for them to understand some English movies and TV shows.

To teach multi-word verbs effectively, the teacher should keep a list by his or her desk of all of the phrasal verbs that have been taught in class. Each time a phrasal is introduced in class, the teacher should add it to the list. Then, prior to each class, the teacher should briefly look over the list, making a mental note of some phrasals that might be useful in the next class.

By taking the above simple steps - bringing in worksheets, introducing movies or TV shows, and keeping a list of the phrasal verbs that have been taught - teachers can have a significant impact on their students. Best of all, the students will achieve a level of fluency in their English which will make them the envy of their peers!

Don't have time to make your own phrasal verb worksheets?

These ESL Phrasal Verbs, worksheets are a good starting point for introducing students to some of the more commonly used phrasals.

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