Teaching English to Beginners

Teaching English to Beginners

Beginner English classes can be tough to teach. After all, how do you explain and correct if your students don't understand you? However, seeing students take off in English can also be hugely rewarding. Read on for ideas to help you teach English to beginners:

Teach something functional
You might think starting with the English alphabet makes sense but to be able to say and understand something functional in English is more useful and builds confidence. Teach introductions, get students asking for things, requesting information and greeting each other.


Use visual aids
Don’t tell, show where possible. Bring in real items they can see and touch to set a context and teach vocabulary. ‘Realia’ aids memory and brings lessons to life. For example, bring in grocery items and get students to repeat as a class and name the items as they pass them around. Then you can add 'I'd like a...' and get students to ask you for the items.

Repeat target language in a variety of different ways
This means setting up a range of different consolidation tasks instead of introducing lots of new words. Aim to teach only 8-12 new structures/vocabulary if you want students to actively remember the language.

Consolidation activities to build on the 'I'd like...' structure, above include matching the picture to the word, writing a dialogue and practising the above exchanges in pairs.

Set homework related to the lesson
Try to make the responsibility for learning and committing language to memory theirs and not yours. Encourage students to use the language outside of class or find websites where they can enjoy practising such as this one: http://www.learn-english-online.org/
Build fun revision quizzes into your lessons regularly because knowing you are going to be tested is a great motivation for revising.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
Source resources and build up a bank of useful sites you can go to for ready-made material. Look out for every day items you can use in class. Form filling is good and functional, for example and can be used as a basis for question forms – what is your name, where do you live, etc. Here are some other great sites for beginners:

Free downloadable worksheets: http://busyteacher.org/atoz/
Ideas, games and downloads: http://www.tedpower.co.uk/literacy.html
Free sites list: http://www.christiantefl.org/news/free-internet-sites-for-teaching-english/

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Teaching English to Beginners