If you have never previously taught English to complete newcomers, the thought of engaging in a whole lesson with pupils who don't understand a single word might feel intimidating. Instructing absolute novices varies from other teaching experiences, as any ESL teacher will attest. While it can be challenging, it might also be one of the most satisfying levels to teach, since each new word learnt by your students is significant at this stage. The key to successful teaching is to maintain a playful and inventive approach.
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Typically, your initial teaching objective should involve letters and numbers. By introducing these basics early in the course, you establish a strong groundwork for all subsequent learning. Ensure your students grasp the alphabet to a satisfactory extent before progressing to more complex concepts. Let your students absorb the alphabet at a pace that suits both you and the class. The aim is to stimulate your students without overwhelming them.
Subsequently, guide your students through the learning of numbers, pacing them just as with the letters based on their understanding. Develop worksheets for students to practice writing letters and/or numbers. Create flashcards to reinforce the learnt material with a word beginning with each alphabet letter. Learners with native languages using Latin or English alphabets may grasp these fundamentals more readily, while those with non-Latin native languages might require extra assistance and practice.
Teaching pronunciation holds critical importance when instructing English as a second language. Pay special attention to sounds that ESL learners find challenging, such as the 'TH' sound, which is absent in several languages. Hence, some ESL learners, especially those from Romance or Slavic language backgrounds, find this sound hard to produce. The 'R' sound is another common challenge due to variations in pronunciation across regional dialects.
The 'L' sound is particularly challenging for ESL learners from Asian countries; spend additional time teaching this sound for better comprehension. The 'H' sound often stumps ESL students, especially those from Spanish-speaking countries, where the letter is typically silent. Its pronunciation in English can cause confusion when it appears in words like 'laugh' (gh) or 'fish' (sh). Provide numerous examples for practice.
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After teaching the alphabet and numbers, focus on nouns, since they form one of the simpler subjects for your students. They can view everything around them as a learning opportunity. Start with common items within your classroom, then extend to everyday objects in your city or town such as car, house, tree, road, and so on. Progress to other categories like food and electronics that your students encounter daily.
Once they have accumulated a good vocabulary, introduce adjectives, which modify nouns. Adjectives are vital for efficient communication as they provide descriptors for nouns. Since they are used exclusively with nouns, it is best to teach them immediately after nouns.
Next, introduce verbs, a crucial step towards enabling your students to form complete sentences. Verbs illustrate an action or state. For instance, you can teach verbs like speak, talk, and pronounce. Pay extra attention to irregular verbs like 'go,' which changes to 'went' in the past tense and 'gone' as a past participle.
After covering nouns, adjectives, and verbs, you can dive into different grammar structures.
Adverbs make a good starting point. These modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs, adding more detail to a statement. They help students specify how or to what extent an action was performed. Adverbs alter the meaning of verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs by describing or changing their meanings. Words ending in -ly, such as exceedingly, wearily, cheerfully, and easily, are usually adverbs.
You can then proceed to teach tenses and other grammar patterns.
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