In his article, Harbord (1992) recommends that an English-language strategy should replace L1 strategies whenever possible. Using the L1 to save time, such as giving instructions for an activity, classroom administration, or chatting with students, is never a good reason. As mentioned in Part I, this is because using the L1 during these situations actually results in the loss of valuable opportunities for using English. It also sends a message to students that English is only a subject for learning, and they are not proficient enough to use it as a means of communication. So how can teachers demonstrate to students that they are capable of using English to communicate when it would be much easier and faster to use the mother tongue?
In this TESL article, the advantages and disadvantages of L1 use in the English-language classroom will be explored. Suggestions on how to capitalize mother tongue use in an effective and judicious manner will be offered in Part II.
On the topic of language learning, there are many stories of students going abroad for a period of time and returning home fluent in the foreign language. The reason for this dramatic change is often attributed to the fact that the student was completely immersed in the culture and the language, and “nobody spoke my language so I had to learn theirs.” Because of the seemingly huge success, many language schools and teachers all over the world (in English-speaking countries such as Canada, United States, and England, and non-English-speaking countries such as Costa Rica, Thailand, and France) choose to adopt and enforce an English-only policy to recreate that full immersion experience for their students. But does it really make a difference? And what are the benefits and repercussions?
There are many strategies in the Communicative Approach that ESL teachers could employ to teach language and culture at the same time. What’s important to keep in mind is that the two should be taught simultaneously and at all levels of learning. Learners begin by becoming familiar with the new culture, progressively moving toward comparisons between cultures, and eventually gaining an in-depth knowledge of both (Sellami, 2000). The classroom activities described below teach language and culture simultaneously; however, all language lessons have an element of culture in them.
A good dictionary is very helpful for studying a language. It helps students with meaning, spelling, grammar, and pronunciation. It is a good idea to use a dictionary which shows all aspects of a word so that students can see how the word is used, and which uses the IPA (International Pronunciation Alphabet) to show how the word is pronounced. Always encourage your students to use an English-English dictionary, especially at a pre-intermediate level and above.
Teaching writing skills can be boring because writing is traditionally a lonely, isolated pursuit; however, the ESL writing class offers many opportunities for collaboration whereby both students and the instructor can work together at various stages of the writing process.
Having students work in groups offers many advantages. Group work can increase the amount of practice available to each student and help to individualize instruction. Furthermore, group work can create a more relaxed learning environment and motivate learners by involving them personally. Perhaps most importantly in terms of SLA, group work can facilitate learner interaction, providing learners with access to the linguistic input they need in order to advance their language skills.
Many ESL instructors implement an “English Only” policy in their language classrooms, and there is strong rationale for this policy. Obviously, we want our learners to take advantage of every opportunity they get to develop their language skills, and the language classroom is a controlled environment where there should be a focus on using English as much as possible. Read more
Experienced language teachers know that it is essential to establish a classroom environment where learners feel comfortable enough to take risks and make mistakes in front of their peers and the teacher. Teachers often use icebreaker activities at first class meetings to set the tone and to start building a comfortable class atmosphere. There are many ways to do this, and one of the most popular icebreakers is “Find Someone Who.”
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