31 July 2015 In Language Blog

Going Step by Step ! 

If there isn’t enough knowledge of a language then communication is not effective. What happens then is that communication errors take over - often with very funny results. This happens in our ESL English language classrooms where students do not have enough vocabulary. I realised that in my teaching of ESL (English as a Second Language) class, that I was actually teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language). I experienced this with some students in a B.Ed. class who came up with funny answers during some communication activities; ‘The stupid man was very intelligent’, ‘The long boy stood in front of the line’, ‘She has tall hair’, ‘I will not setress you do this work’, ‘I need waater far life’, ‘He is a happy cat’, ‘It was a happy class’, ‘He is a beautiful teacher because he has good results’, ‘It should must happen’, ‘I was eaten by that food’, ‘I want to be a nice cook passing B.Ed.’ , ‘I will play in my childhood’, ‘I was eat food’, ‘First I die, then I enjoy me life’, ‘Me Lord, I don’t know you.’ Not to mention how students make a plural of a word like 'fees'! These and many such expressions of some students in the language classes during speaking activities made me realise in the beginning of the teaching sessions that I need to start with the basics. Every language course cannot be designed or taught in the same way. For students lacking the knowledge of the parts of speech, the teacher needs to be patient and plan his/her lessons carefully. The teacher needs to start with vocabulary/noun activities using pictures integrated with listening and speaking, moving to creative speaking and writing. Starting from nouns, then adjectives (how the nouns seem/look), verbs (what the nouns do) to adverbs (how/when/where the nouns do) and then to joining them using conjunctions and positioning them using prepositions is a good step-by-step technique that enables these ESL initial learners to conceptualise language in an effective way. First of all, the teacher needs to assess the students’ knowledge and level of understanding. It is essential for a language teacher to start classes with basic speaking and writing activities in order to form a strong foundation for the students to begin to develop their English language skills. This comes from knowing the level of each student developed from a need analysis. Asking them to enter the  'library of language' to discover more is the aim of the teacher's creativity, becomes an ongoing motivation for students.  This is what I have been doing successfully with my Foundation, Functional Grammar and Communication Skills classes and it has made my lessons as easy as climbing a ladder - it's a challenge, but not impossible!