Helping ESL learners to transition into thinking in EnglishLearning to think in English develops increased fluency for language learners. However, we might want to keep in mind that using the L1 (the learner’s first language) to interpret the L2 (the second or other language) is a normal part of second language acquisition. In fact, this is one method for interpreting the level of English language learners. But, as teachers, we can help students transition from thinking in L1 to thinking in the L2.
Ideally, learners eventually become language users without this need to translate in their minds. However, we must remember that we cannot force this and expect learners to appreciate it (much less retain it). This is not the forum to discuss the merits or demerits of requiring a class to speak English only, especially at lower levels. But it is safe to say that we can’t turn on a switch to make learners cease from thinking in L1 to think in the L2.
What we can do is provide opportunities to develop their English skills. We can help them reduce their reliance upon the L1. With enough repetition and reinforcement, in time, they’ll begin to think more in English. The following suggestions will provide you with options for facilitating this transition to thinking in English.

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Teaching complex language to ESL learnersWhen teaching English, there will likely be times when you encounter difficulties helping learners understand complex ideas. For example, how can you help them understand something written in a health report like “increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a complication of smoking”?

When you look at your class members and see blank stares, it may be time to incorporate a strategy or two to help them get the idea being conveyed. At the same time, you’ll be facilitating thinking in English. And since our goal as ESL teachers is to develop language acquisition in learners, this can be an effective tool toward that end.

Over the years, I’ve run across this issue repeatedly. So, here are a few ideas that may help you in similar situations. Read more

In this article, I demonstrate how I teach advanced learners how to develop richer and more expansive vocabulary. This article demonstrates perfectly how to use the communicative approach to teach vocabulary in a way that is both meaningful for the teacher and student.

About the Author: Melissa is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 120-hour Advanced TESOL Certificate course. She recently returned from teaching English in Japan. She runs her own private teaching business where she teaches English to Korean students in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Read more

Teaching Vocabulary TESOL courseAcquiring a large vocabulary is fundamental at intermediate levels and above. Whether it be for work, pleasure or academic purposes, building vocabulary will increase learner’s ability to understand more complex texts and/or academic lectures, and also communicate more effectively by writing. In this TESOL article, you will learn how to help your students develop their communicative and linguistic competence through new vocabulary.

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How to Improve English Vocabulary with DictionariesIt can be difficult figuring out how to help students improve their English vocabulary once they have become good friends with dictionaries, and have learned to use them as a valuable resource. In this article you will find more English vocabulary games, activities and assignments to challenge your students further.

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Teaching Vocabulary with DictionariesHelping students to improve their English Vocabulary can be tricky. There are several reasons why students sometimes seem not to improve or develop their vocabulary. Often, some of these reasons are that they overuse translating dictionaries, or they are in an intermediate level and they have reached a plateau. Other times, students feel like they can get by with what they already know, and they are not challenged enough in class in order to take risks and use new vocabulary.

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ESL dictionary in TESOLThe use of dictionaries in ESL classes has always been a controversial issue. There are several teachers who feel very strongly about the detrimental effect dictionaries may have on students’ second language development; while other teachers believe they are actually quite beneficial.

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How to introduce new vocabulary - teaching vocabulary ESLActivating Schema – Teaching Vocabulary

Activating schema is an essential part of introducing new vocabulary. In most cases, the majority of the vocabulary that your students end up using in a lesson comes directly from you and the materials you’ve chosen. Introducing vocabulary is usually best done in context. It’s not so effective to start a lesson by giving your students a list of 15 new words and having them read their definitions. At that early point, they haven’t activated their prior knowledge and they are not clearly seeing the purpose of the words. Instead, introduce the theme and get the students thinking about what they already know. In linguistic terms, we call this activating schemata (link), and it is a crucial early step. Start with a short discussion between pairs or groups, for example, that will elicit from students what they already know about the vocabulary in that scheme. In this way, you and the students know where they are and where they need to go. This is called diagnostic assessment, and it’s a necessary part of effective teaching.

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Teaching English VocabularyVocabulary is an important part of every lesson, regardless of which skill we are focusing on. Teaching vocabulary is a little different than teaching grammar, writing or other concept-based skills. In this article, my goal is to help you think about ways of more effectively incorporating vocabulary instruction into your planning and teaching. I will demonstrate three main principles;

1)     Students will not be able to use most words until they have worked with them repeatedly and understand them deeply.

2)     Students need to see new words in a variety of contexts.

3)     Students need to reuse new vocabulary in subsequent classes if they are to remember it.

-OnTESOL: Accredited TEFL courses since 2003!-

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Teaching vocabulary TESOL blogMany students identify vocabulary as one of the main areas in which they want to see improvement. Many teachers, on the other hand, struggle with the challenge of helping students expand their vocabularies and maintain their active vocabulary bank. A strong vocabulary has a beneficial effect on all skill areas, and helping students improve in this area should be a priority for teachers.

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