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By Virginia Cady
Communications and Social Media Intern
This Wednesday our volunteers spoke with our own Stefan Cornibert in the last skills-building webinar “TESL Best Practices: Five Favorite Classroom Lessons”. Stefan spoke with our volunteers about practical methods for teaching ESL in the classroom, this is what he shared!
First and foremost, Stefan stressed the importance of “Level Testing” or identifying what your students know. This includes vocabulary and verb tense. A good way to do this is by playing fill in the blank games, in which students must provide the correct word to complete the sentence or example.
Once you have identified the levels your students are at, it is easier to make a lesson plan. In order to help break up the lesson Stefan recommended utilizing a 5 part method: warm-up, engage, teach, practice, play.
The warm-up should be short and simple, it is after all meant to ease the students back into the flow of English class. Good activities for the warm up are games such as hangman which allow you to review old vocabulary or verb tenses.
The “engage” portion should be primarily focused on speaking. The overall goal as a teacher is to get the students to respond to you, by speaking in English to formulate their thoughts.
The “teach” part of the lesson should be the longest, about 20 minutes. The focus here should be on new vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence structure. It is especially important to focus on unusual combinations of letters and how these are pronounced such as the “sp” in “spoon”, as well as the different sounds letters make, such as the “c” in “ceiling” versus “cup”.
Next comes the practice portion of the lesson, this should be used to put the lesson just taught to use. Make sure all the students participate so you can ensure that they all understand the concept you just taught them.
Finally, end the lesson with a fun game. After all, learning should be fun, and games are good ways to cement new information into a student’s memory. A good game for children is the “chair game” in which one child stands in the middle of a circle of chairs and says a sentence describing themselves such as “I have black hair”. Then all the children sitting in the chairs with black hair must get up and sit in a different chair, but the child in the middle pulls one of the chairs away, resulting in one of the children not having a chair. This student is then the next person to go in the middle and the game starts again.
A good game for high-school students is ESL jeopardy. This turns learning into a competition, which can help motivate students. Another game for older students, especially adults, is role play. Role play allows the students to act out certain scenarios or personas and can be especially helpful when teaching ESL as it relates to an individual’s occupation.
Stefan also gave these general tips for potentially difficult concepts or situations. An excellent teaching strategy is to ask students to help each other find the answer if a classmate is struggling as opposed to telling the students the answer. One of the more difficult things to teach can be verb tenses, for these good strategies are timelines, acting it out, or using charts. “Math” is especially helpful for teaching sentence structure because it allows you to give the students a template to help them build sentences. An example of this is: pronoun + “to be” + Verb + ing = Continuous Tense.
Most importantly, have fun and engage with your students. You may find they teach you just as much as you teach them!
For more tips visit eslandmore.com
To view the recording of the webinar click here.