Looking at esl learning

I came across this article on the teaching of French in an intensive setting. It embodies all the philosophies I have held about how the intensive language centre for English should be. I’ve ordered the research articles it is based on and look forward to receiving that.

I’ll look at one principle here and that is the need for authentic communication. Many of my students are older and have had learning in their own languages. Place an older esl learner in the same classroom as a 13 year old who has not been exposed or has not developed ideas to the same extent and there can be a great deal of disparity in their needs. However, this can also lead to some great opportunities for authentic conversations as older, or more knowledgeable students guide the younger or less experienced ones towards learning. The common factor for them is that they all need the language to access the knowledge.

Currently, I ensure my students work towards preparing some spoken task every week. The task may be linked to any of the content subjects but it allows students to internalise and use language learnt for the topic.

The powerpoint makes another suggestion that I will have to look into. The suggestion made is that there should be a routine of beginning each day with an interactive activity. I can see how valuable this would be but I will need to look at how this can be incorporated into the very very busy schedule we already have.

Another area I want to look at is my students own interests. Many of my students crave to communicate their feelings and knowledge, but feel frustrated when they are hindered by language. I’m looking at ways to open up this communication.

One new lesson component I will be introducing next term centres around the use of pictures to elicit talk. I have collected a range of photographs mainly from magazines and newspapers and will be using these for speaking segments. These photographs will allow students to acquire vocabulary but also develop their own responses as they share their perspective on the images.


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