Teaching beginners can be a tough proposition, specifically, when it is a monolingual group and you are not related to their language, or it is a multilingual group and the only common language is the English you have been tasked with teaching them. Nevertheless, not only is possible to teach beginners only through English, but it could also be one of the most rewarding levels to teach.
In this blog, Ms Sonu Goel, Founder of Café Converse which is Delhi’s leading English language institute is sharing some tips for you to succeed in setting your learners strongly on the path to achieving proficiency. Here are some tips for teaching English to beginners.
Keep Instructions Simple and Clear
It will be tempting when addressing a class of students, particularly ones that you have only just met, to explain activities in your affable language. After all, you want to strike the right chord. However, a student who only knows a few words of English, if any at all, will not appreciate or understand all the difficult words of communication you choose.
For example, avoid instructions like these: So now what I would like you all to do if you do not mind is simply to stand up for a moment and come to the front of the class. And, kindly bring your book with you. Could we all simply do that?”
Instead, make instructions quite clear by using limited words as required and by gesturing whenever possible, and breaking down the sequence of instructions into smaller units. If you wish to be polite, “please” and “thank you” will work. For example, the above instruction can be better said as: “Everyone, take your book, please. Stand up. Now, come here, please. Thank you!
Let them First Listen
More than possibly, your students would want to begin practising speaking very much from the get-go. However, it takes some time for one’s ears to get accustomed to the sounds of a new language, and not each one will be so keen; Don’t force students into speaking. First, let them have plenty of opportunities to listen to you using the language. (Which does not mean you merely just be rambling on at the front of the classroom, with beginners more so than with other levels.) You truly have to consider what you say and grade your language as per it.
Form Classroom Language Early On
Classroom language, can you speak more slowly? What do we need to do? I do not understand. What does it mean? How do you say, in English? All these instructions and questions are normally associated with teaching children, but it really assists adult beginners as well. No way how friendly and relaxed you make your classroom environment, learning a new language can still be difficult, particularly, when you feel you’re not totally following what’s going on, or that you could be called on to say something that you don’t feel ready with. It is a lot better to equip students early on with the classroom language that will support them navigate the lessons efficiently.
There is no logic in making the students know the terms like past simple, irregular verb or adverb of frequency if they cannot use the actual structures or words they refer to. Do not tell them how to say something: show them. Provide as much context as you can. Visual prompts will work well. Further, make sure you check they have understood it well by asking questions that test their understanding– never use “Do you understand?” as many people are reluctant to let one know that they haven’t understood and will pretend rather, that they have. Also, a student may think they have understood when in reality they haven’t.
Prepare Properly, Keep them Talking
Although teaching beginners means progressing gradually and recycling and repeating language several times, it doesn’t mean recycling the same things, specifically, not during one lesson. Make sure you have an array of activities to do and do not go into class without having first carefully considering thoroughly, how you are about to introduce a new language, how you will know that the students have understood it, how you will practice it, and how you will handle it with potential misunderstandings. The probability for confusion at this level is quite greater than at higher levels and at times even problematic to disentangle.
Also, keep in mind that, unlike higher classes, you cannot rely on conversations forming simply because the students do not yet have the linguistic resources to engage in anything except simple exchanges (though with time they will). It means that the onus will mainly be on you to keep them talking.
Lastly, enjoy this level. Even though in several ways the toughest level to teach, it could also, be one of the most satisfying. Witnessing your learners go from knowing nothing to reaching a certain level to knowing some sentences and structures to be capable of holding rudimentary conversations can be quite rewarding. And if they enjoy their primary exposure to the language and feel confident or inspired to continue, you will have assisted them in paving the road to their further success.
Happy teaching !!
Ms Sonu Goel is a professionally acclaimed certified ESL trainer from British Council having 15 years of strong background for teaching English language in both online and physical classes. She is dedicated to the teaching of English in an interactive and practical way, whereby learners feel enriched with knowledge and experience the language hands-on. She uses creative ideas and aids to let the learning happen as organically and efficiently as possible. Ms Goel has travelled various European countries and experienced an array of cultures and linguistic skills for the English language.