Teaching English to Second Language Learners- Top Tips and Keys for Successful Teaching

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Language Specific  »  English Grammar  »  Teaching English to Second Language Learners- Top Tips and Keys for Successful Teaching

Teaching English to Second Language Learners- Top Tips and Keys for Successful Teaching

By Yordanka Petkova | Published  02/11/2008 | English Grammar | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://mlt.proz.com/doc/1652
Yordanka Petkova
United Kingdom
English to Bulgarian translator
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Criteria for successful teaching

I. Effective discipline

“For every person wishing to teach,
there are thirty people not wishing to be taught”

When a teacher advocates rules of effective discipline among learners he/she often expects positive feedback. However the situation rarely corresponds exactly to his/her high expectations. Nevertheless the teacher copes with positive students for their language work or passive and reticent students or has to deal with disruptive behaviour. These require a certain amount of additional teacher’s effort. Effective discipline includes not only an appropriate therapeutic approach. It also depends on English teacher’s abilities to make the most boring topic seems interesting.
Here are my tested keys for achievement:

• Introducing a variety into teacher’s work

One of the most universal reasons for discipline problems is student’s inability to deal with difficulties. The pressure they often come across taking part in the learning process as they exploit traditional approaches of instruction and tests frustrate them and discourage them. Immersing into functional topics, exciting situations and impressive environments learners get into set up a variety into their work. These increase their motivation to study. The teacher should try to exploit innovative methods of English teaching in order to increase the level of excitement. It has an influential role to solve discipline problems.

• Working according to learner’s individual features

A very important part of effective English teaching is the right task selection learners are assigned and the learning approaches. For example, some people prefer feeling sense of ownership than working interdependently, others are motivated by problem-solving and others find discussions and drama performance challenging. There are a wide variety of teaching approaches and techniques that English teachers must have at their finger-ends so as to match learners’ preferable styles.

• Engaging the attention of each member of the group

The wide majority will agree that bad discipline improves if everyone in the group is assigned an appropriate activity by fully engaging in his/her own learning. It is especially true when a teacher has to cope with passive and reticent students. This may need to try some sort of “mime participation”, for example role-playing among those students who find it difficult to communicate. I like to use such an analogy: imagine a little baby who learns a language in non verbal way in initial stages of his or her language development. The teacher must be able to verbalize his/her English knowledge in further stages. Such learners will have the liberty to change their role in the learning progress from passive recipients to active participants and will not be isolated any more.

II. Motivating

If a language teaching is to be motivating it should suggests:

• Functional English and challenging exercises

What makes an activity challenging? Most of my secondary English learners think that when a lesson provides life skills or good preparation for their future workplace this leads to better learning. Once I read that a survey had been made in the University of Illinois and it showed that the students who had completed a syllabus providing life skills found it easier to get jobs than those who had completed a traditional curriculum of instruction. In short, incorporating an array of various life situations among English learners increases the level of motivation. And on the other side of the scale a lot of everyday situations can be brought among them so as to consolidate their knowledge acquired in outside world. This can become a perfect rehearsal for those who had already experienced their language competence in outside world- having been abroad or just having chatted with an English speaking pal by the Internet.

• Impressive settings

Exiting environments which correspond to the learning topics or situations create an atmosphere in which English language and structures are easier and acceptable to memorize.

• Joyful and imaginative activities

Perhaps one of the most essential components of successful English teaching is exploiting funny and creative activities. When learners construct themselves and invent their own reality it is more likely to retain their knowledge than it is handed to them in an ordinal lesson of English. Moreover such activities are very useful because of the therapeutic effect they have. Their entertaining side makes learners feel joyful about their English class.

III. General English language fluency

Although the primary purpose of an activity can be centered on a separate particular ability an English teacher should be flexible enough so as to develop learners’ integrated language skills-reading, speaking, listening and writing. It is widely agreed that people can’t acquire one skill without developing another one. It is impossible to write something without we can read or we can’t speak in a conversation without listening. On the other hand, learners cannot focus on all the skills at a certain stage. Most of the lesson patterns are effective activities in which learners are required to concentrate on a separate particular skill. For example, they have to do an oral communication as the basis for writing or reading or after reading students are involved to practice some other skill in further stages. Once again an English teacher should be flexible enough in order to provide general language fluency for his/her learners. It oils the wheels of language proficiency and it’s the English teacher’s duty to see all the skills practiced.

IV. Safe environment

Error correcting is concerned to learners’ preferable ways to be made. English teachers should indentify them and try to negotiate with their students. For example some people like to be corrected on the spot , others after the exercises. Correction approach also depends on the type of the activity English learners do- if it is reading or oral communication. It is rarely appropriate to correct student’s mistakes while talking in a conversation. This can undertake the communication purpose of the exercise. The right correction approach augments learners’ abilities to deal with difficulties and the teacher should maintain safe atmosphere so as to provide the error correction process with no drastic consequences.

V. Extension activities:

The teacher should be very flexible and should change the scope of every lesson so as to enable his/her English learners to get general fluency practice. He/she also should be able to change the scope for the whole group and for individuals. For example, one person might be quite good at speaking but has troubles at listening. One of the most familiar reasons that restrict student’s participation in the learning process is that some teachers are prejudiced to work with individuals. They often feel reluctant to meet student’s educational needs and in appropriate way. In the modern world we live teachers should have more influential role beyond the subject level. The vast majority will agree that learning is better when it meets learners’ educational needs and it’s the English teacher’s job to work beyond the surface. Or it is at least according to my opinion.

VI. Humour and positive statements

I wish to put an accent on one more item in this article and share my viewpoint. Nowadays some teachers give a priority to one student over another and search to identify learner’s mistakes. It may cause more real inflection on them than we realize. I like to use an analogy: Imagine a teacher who comes into the classroom and tells a student A: “Hmm, you failed your grammar test. It was very, very bad! Even it was weaker than the student B’s. You didn’t know the English tense system, you didn’t know how to suggest, you didn’t know the conditional forms, and you didn’t know……….” What message does the student A receive? Respectively, if the same teacher says: “Well, your grammar test was not very good but you are quite good at listening. Why don’t we try some new approaches and do similar exercises again?” What does it send to the student A? Which one tends to have a loosing in the learning progress? And which is more likely to invite teacher-learner cooperation? ...........

VII. Inspiring learner’s full potential

Finally, but not in the background, a few words about praising: Rewarding can be an important component of effective English teaching. Even when a teacher inserts such phrases as “Excellent!” after a student completing a language activity or showing a particular expected behavior, this may encourage him or her to act in the desirable way.
Someone once said: “Denying student’s value and achievement is a form of punishment”………..


English language acquisition is hard and can be very stressful. So in order to maintain the greatest amount of learners’ success teachers must ensure that their learners are not threatened with the process and keep it positive and productive experience. The teacher’s job is not only to provide English language knowledge and practice. It also incorporates a therapeutic component. Changing negative remarks in positive way is vital for a cooperative teacher-student relationship. It provides favorable environment among English learners. Teaching positively may shape student’s behavior over a long time. Praising learner’s achievement may inspire their full potential to acquire English language knowledge.

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