How to Teach English to Beginners
If it’s your first time teaching English to beginners, the task may seem overwhelming. Teaching the language is new to you, and the language’s grammar, vocabulary, and finer nuances are new to your students. Even though the experience can be challenging, it can also be a completely satisfying and exciting experience. At this level of teaching, every step is an achievement no matter how little or big. The key is to take baby steps and keep it as simple as you can. Make it fun and interesting for your beginners! There are many simple tips on how to teach English to beginners. Here are our top 10 picks!
1. Keep it simple
Remember, your students are just starting to learn, so it’s important not to overwhelm them with too much language and information. Keep it simple; this includes instructions and feedback. Use shorter sentences with simple words. When possible, use gestures to make it easier for them to understand.
2. Repeat everything
You need to repeat everything you say to make sure that the beginners register it, as their minds are not yet attuned to register everything being expressed in the language. You need to do the same for instructions, as well as the content you are teaching. If you want them to retain specific words in their vocabulary, make sure to use those words often and repeat them so that your students can learn them.
3. Always check for understanding
An important part of teaching is making sure your students understand what you are teaching. Meeting this goal is especially important for beginners, as they may take longer to learn. You will have to be more patient and constantly check to make sure that they have understood what you have said. They may feel too embarrassed to ask in front of their peers and may remain silent. To help your students overcome this obstacle, you need to ask whether they understand the lesson being taught and allow them to be open about not being able to follow with the class. Otherwise, you will not be able to address the learning gap, causing your students to suffer in the long run.
4. Give them lots of time to practice
Since your students are new to the English language, you cannot expect them to understand it all immediately. You need to give them multiple examples while teaching and ample time to practice. Make them practice individually as well as in groups. You need to let them know that they can take all the time they need to practice and that it’s okay if they keep messing up. They will slowly but surely make progress when they are given time and permission to fail. They shouldn’t feel any pressure to get things right in the first attempt.
5. Use visuals
Try to use visuals as much as you can in the classroom. Rather than constantly giving verbal cues and instructions, incorporate some fun and interesting visuals in your lessons. You can do this by incorporating digital presentations, pictures, props, drawings, skits, etc.
6. Positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is very important for all students, but especially beginners. Do not do anything that would discourage your students as they may already be feeling overwhelmed. If they give an incorrect answer, do not say something negative or embarrass them. You might instill fear of participating in the lessons and scare them away from learning English. The worst consequence of this can be that the memory of what you say remains with them for a long time. Instead, praise and encourage them even when they make mistakes. Go on to correct them so that it doesn’t shake their self-confidence.
7. Be fun and energetic
You need to be fun and energetic to keep them engaged and not lose interest. Use creative ways to teach them, such as puzzles and games. Be updated with the trending topics and use them in examples to grab their attention, e.g., Elsa and Anna from the movie Frozen.
Your fun and energetic demeanor will also make you more approachable to the students. They will feel more comfortable with you and, thus, be able to learn better.
8. Give lots of encouragement
At this level, students will need all the encouragement they can get to prosper. Since the language is new to them, they will make mistakes, and you will need to praise and encourage them even more.
Little things that may not seem so important, such as being able to say a full sentence, or pronounce a new word, are big accomplishments for your beginners. You should give your students the praise and encouragement they deserve for making such progress.
9. Plan group activities
Getting students in beginner classes to come together and form bonds with each other can be challenging. Not knowing their peers may also cause them to feel intimidated and, therefore, not be comfortable during the class.
Getting them comfortable should be your priority as their instructor. One way of doing this is by breaking the ice and making them do fun activities together. It’ll build their trust in each other and also cause them to learn.
Another way is by singing songs, which could help them better understand the language and be fluent through repetition.
Simple games like Scrabble can also help create a friendly and comfortable learning environment in your classroom.
10. Prepare well
Since it’s a challenging situation, make sure that you are fully prepared for it. Take time out before each lesson to plan content and activities to keep the students fully engaged. Make sure to come up with new lesson plans instead of recycling old ones you’ve been using all along. Have the lesson fully planned from start to end. Put your heart into it, and you will find that it will be easier for you.
Since English is a new language for your students, they won’t talk a lot. You’ll have to make sure that you have enough content planned for that.
With these 10 tips and tricks for teaching English to beginners, you will be able to help your students thrive and master the language fully prepared. Happy Teaching!