Teaching English as Second Language

Manila Bulletin, August 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching English as Second Language


Teaching English or any language to students who are second language learners involves building their reading and speaking vocabulary and their understanding of written and spoken English language. However, teachers of English as a second language often face a variety of common and student-specific problems, which should be addressed in order to reinforce a particular information or specific skill students need to effectively communicate in English. Johnson, S. lists down these problems and the corresponding solutions/strategies needed to address them:

Slow Progress in Learning

Classes may progress slowly despite the teacher's efforts. Tutoring or other supplemental activities allows teachers to assist those students who need extra instruction on some material and at the same time maintain a close pace to the schedule set.

Fallback on the Native Language

Another issue for English language teachers is that students fall back on their native language for conversation. It is often easier for students to communicate in their native language instead of English and is usually frustrating for them to rethink and reword their thoughts into the new language. Diversifying 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Real-World Application and Outdated Text Lessons

Some in-class speech and real-world speech application are different. 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 that speech patterns inside the classroom will always be the same outside. Some textbook language uses more uncommon or outdated terms and phrases, which can confuse the students.

Spoken versus Written English

Students may be able to understand spoken English but confuse sentence structure and grammar when writing the same thing. There are 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 of a second language face. …

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