What does the ESL learner need?

I never really saw myself as a teacher of ESL learners. At least, not when I was teaching within the Singapore context, perhaps because the standard of my students language skills was relatively high and my whole training was around teaching to the Cambridge O’levels. When I moved to Australia, I first taught in mainstream English classes. The language needs of students was not very different. Many within the state school system came from non- English home environments and needed the type of scaffolding that I was used to providing. There were however, a few native speakers in my classes and it was quite evident that they could do so much more within the language classroom and required a very different learning environment.

But soon after I found myself teaching ESL within the state school system. I love it here, mainly because the students are so appreciative of everything you do for them. But I have been driven to begin this blog after teaching for 2 years in this centre because I think that not enough is said about the needs of the ESL learner.

My current students range in age from 13 to 18  within the one class. They are generally refugees and they all have about 3 months to 6 months of exposure to learning English before coming over to my class. As a teacher trained  and experienced in  teaching graduating students, the sudden change to teaching the basics is more than challenging. After two years, I have begun to get the hang of it, but as I devoured all the literature out there to help me meet this challenge I realised there is more not said than said. I hope to clarify my thoughts on these issues through this blog.


One Comment

  1. What does the ESL learner need?
    I think the answer simply, is support. Learning a new language is hard, and the more support the learners receive – both at home and in the classroom- makes all the difference. Teachers looking to enter into the ESL field must remember that they cannot look at it the same way as teaching science or mathematics. Some students may have never heard English before, and foreign instructors (native speakers) need to remember that.


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