Teachers instructing students in learning English as another language often face with a variety of common and student-specific problems. Instructing students in the English language involves building a student's reading and speaking vocabulary and understanding of written and spoken English language. To facilitate a positive learning atmosphere for students and encourage them to practice and continue to learn the language, teachers should find ways to correct these common problems and reinforce the core information students need to effectively communicate in English.
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Going Off Schedule
Teachers of foreign languages may first notice that their lesson plans change over the course of the class. Classes may progress slowly despite your efforts. Students learning a second language often learn at different paces and generally learn material differently. Encouraging students to practice the skills learnt in class and incorporating listening exercises, such as learning poems or parts of a favourite story in the new language out of class, students may be able to stay on track with your plan of instruction at a slightly slower rate. Tutoring or other supplemental activities can allow you to assist those students who need extra instruction on some material and maintain a close pace to the schedule you have set.
Using Other Languages
Another noticeable issue for English language teachers is having students fall back on their native language for conversation. It is often easier for students to communicate in their native language instead of English. It is usually frustrating for students to rethink and reword their thoughts into the new language clearly. Diversifying your student groups so that not all of the students in one group speak the same native language will discourage students from reverting to their native language to communicate and encourage them to use the one they have in common.
Real-World Application and Dry, Outdated Text Lessons
Differentiating between in-class speech and real-world speech application can be tricky. Textbooks and in-class material instructing students on the fundamental aspects of the English language and proper grammar can be stilted and very unrealistic in terms of dialogue examples. When students are taught English as a second language, they may assume in-class speech patterns will be the same outside the classroom. Often, textbook language uses more uncommon or outdated terms and phrases, which can confuse and contradict what a textbook shows.
Written Versus Spoken English Confusion
Students may be able hear and understand spoken English but confuse sentence structure and grammar when writing the same thing. Grammatical problems in writing is another problem teachers face in teaching English language.
It can be difficult for students to write clearly in a second language, as their native language may have different requirements for tenses and placement for sentence structure. Teachers often face problems with sentence formatting and grammatical requirements needed for writing to be coherent.
Building Vocabulary Base
Building up a student's English vocabulary is one of the first issues teachers instructing students in a second language face. Thinking about one object and remembering two identifying names for it can be confusing for younger and older students. Incorporating interactive lessons to identify common objects and images is a great starting place for building vocabulary for everyday items. Activities and practice material focusing on recognising and using words with the correct spelling are key elements of instructing students in English as a second language.
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- "Center for Applied Linguistics"; Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning; National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning; December 1992
- Rutgers University Writing Centers: Working with ESL Students.
- "Education"; Problems in Current Instruction of English Language Learners; M.D. Coyne; 2007