8

Teaching techniques for English classes

Teaching EnglishWhat are the best teaching techniques for EFL classes?

The answer depends on the students and their levels of proficiency.

The reasons for learning a language could be:

  • Integration into an English-speaking society: The student wants to immigrate to an English-speaking country.
  • Education: English might be part of the school curriculum.
  • Entertainment: Learning a foreign language (especially English) would enable them to listen to English songs, read English literary works, or watch movies in English.
  • English for Special Purposes (ESP): People who wish to conduct international Business will need a basic comprehension of the English language.
  • Lingua Franca: Countries that have several languages use English as a bridge language.

What options are available to the student for learning English?

  • Online
  • Private one-on-one tuition
  • Adult learners class
  • Primary or secondary school education
  • University-level education.

Teachers focusing on either of these modalities use different terminology, teaching materials, and teaching style.

An overview of teaching techniques:

  • Reading aloud to students –  This is popular among younger learners.  This technique involves reading, explaining, then reading the same passage through.
  • Flashcards –  This technique is suitable for kindergarten and primary school learners.
  • Communicative language teaching: This is important for improving students’ speaking, writing, listening, and reading. This technique prevents students from just focusing on reading or writing by themselves or listening to passively without interaction.
  • Blended learning  – Blended learning is a combination of face to face and online teaching.  This style of teaching requires computer learning tools.
  • The online-only classroom is wholely computer-based tuition.  In this teaching style, there is no face-to-face teaching.

To achieve success in teaching English to EFL students, teachers should consider which among the techniques above suit their students’ levels of English, ages, and motivations.

Teaching techniques for different purposes:

immigrationFor integrating into an English-speaking society:

An example of full immersion in English is when non-English speaking immigrants move to an English speaking country. An English only classroom would be the fastest way to gain a basic comprehension to function in society. In this class, the teacher should create a 100% English-speaking environment for their students to practice the target language all the time to achieve their goals of merging into the English-speaking society.

For education:

Many Countries where English is a second language, English is taught from a very early age. Teachers need to follow the syllabus of the school to teach, yet they need to be flexible so that their English classes can be both fun and useful. Teachers should consider students’ ages (from primary to high schools) to decide their teaching methods to motivate their students to learn English.

For ESP students:

ESP (English for Special Purposes) classes should provide students with opportunities to build English vocabulary in their specific areas. Examples are English for banking, advertising, contracts, import, export, law, insurance, advertising, marketing, and finance. There are different ESP books by various publishers for schools and teachers to choose to teach students. The current trend of teaching ESP is the communicative approach, in which students are given as many opportunities to communicate in their specific areas as possible. This approach is believed to be useful for ESP teaching by many language educators.

Conclusion

No one technique of teaching English is suitable in all contexts.  Every teaching method suits a particular group of students:

  • Children may want to learn English through stories.
  • Business students need to build vocabulary around their profession
  • Those who learn English for entertainment might find online classes suitable

Similar stories apply to other students of English. As teachers, we need to know what teaching technique would suit our students best to have the most effective English lessons.

Suggested Reading

The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer
Learning Teaching – the Essential Guide to English Language Teaching  by Jim Scrivener
Success on your Certificate course in English language teaching – A guide to becoming a teacher in ELT/TESOL

References

Second Handbook of English Language Teaching -Springer

Aaron Skudder

8 Comments

  1. This is great information. I grew up with family in the aviation industry, and always found it interesting that English is the standard language for flight crews and air traffic controllers… so it’s also a good idea for any budding pilots around the world to start learning the language as early as possible. I hadn’t really thought about English also being used as “Lingua Franca” / as a bridge language in some countries. 

    It’s great that there are a number of different options and ways to learn English as a new language. Combining personal lessons with techology like smartphone apps is sure to help as well!

    • Hi Aly

      Thanks for your reply.  English is the default language for commerce.  It is probably the most useful language for a foreigner to learn.  Pigeon English as a Lingua Franca has made grammar easier to understand.

  2. Great article about teaching English as a Foreign language. As an expat that has moved to a French/English area it is always exciting to see tips like these. It is very true that the purpose for learning can also dictate the curriculum. 

    Loved the recommended readings. Maybe a way to integrate into the body of it too so people know to find the helpful books at the bottom. 

  3. Thanks again Aaron. Your articles are always very well written and thoughtful. I did not know about English for Special Purposes or Lingua Franca. I like how you said its important to keep the class room fun and useful. Thanks for all the great book recommendations too. I will forward this to any teachers I know so they can brush up on everything. 

  4. I teach English language to other adults but it is still for educational purposes. This are really good techniques. Some I have used, and some I haven’t heard about. It’s really good that you can classify and also give which technique best suits the purpose of the teaching. I think I would try out some of those I haven’t tried before and see how it works for me. Thank you for a good list here.

  5. Hello, I work as an online English tutor on a Japanese website for kids and I tutor them English language. I agree with you that different techniques work for different students. Some always prefer the reading of stories out to them while dome prefer the use of drawings and some through reading aloud and drilling. It doesn’t work one way for all of them. Getting to know other techniques here seems nice. Thanks

  6. As an ESL learner myself, it takes time to excel in English. As for me, I find that if I surround myself with English speaking people or watch more English based entertainment, It helps with my pronunciation and also learn some new vocabularies or slangs. I also think that reading and writing helps with my academic vocabularies as well. You are right one size does not fit all. All the methods are great to implement but the students have to implement them as well. 

  7. Great informative article. I came from one of the countries where English is the second language and I know how much struggle those people who come from a non-English speaking country when they try to learn English. But in this article, you have shared such a valuable teaching technique which definitely gonna help all of us. My next-door building is an ESOL learning Center, I have personally heard every day from that learner about their difficulties. I will share this article with them next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *