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This unit outlined the different kinds of groups a teacher may work with and the best ways to approach teaching them. The first kind of group are the beginners, and there are five different categories of beginners:
1. Absolute beginners are students who have no English at all and may have never been exposed to it before
2. False beginners may have studied or been exposed to English before but have not retained much of the language. They can probably make a few simple sentences.
3. Adult beginners often have made the decision to learn English and will be highly motivated to learn.
4. Young learners often lack motivation and likely did not have a choice and it was likely required for them to study English, often seeing no benefit from doing so. However, they tend to pick up language more easily than adults.
5. The beginners without the roman alphabet will need a lot of initial work on basic literacy skills which involve a lot of reading and writing.
Some students may fall into more than one category. There are a number of techniques a teacher can use when teaching beginners. It is very important to know your students’ needs and have clear and realistic aims for them. You may need to adapt to suit certain situations and rearrange the classroom to best display the lesson. Teachers should be as visual as possible when teaching beginners and they must control their language, slowing down and speaking more clearly. Its also important not to use your students’ native language in the classroom, as they will likely be less motivated to learn English. Teachers should not over-correct students as it will diminish their confidence to speak. They should receive praise and encouragement as much as possible and should be able to learn in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
Teachers may also have to teach individual students in one to one classes. This can be an advantage as there will be no mixed levels, the student is likely highly motivated, and their needs can be clearly defined. However, many teachers express a loss of classroom dynamic, and some activities are impossible in a group. The teacher often must become apart of the activities. Teachers can use an analysis form at the initial meeting to find out their interests and needs, helping plan future lessons.
Teaching children is much like parenting in some senses. We must use a slower and more clear pronounced speech, sometimes using a higher pitch and exaggerated intonation. Building a child’s self-esteem with patient repetition, positive encouragement and praise is essential to language growth. Children have a shorter attention span, so the teacher must have many activities for the lesson which are fun and exciting for the students. Teachers should not put students on the spot, nor cheat by using the students’ native language. You may need to act out meaning and be comfortable making fun of yourself a little bit.
When teaching children, the teacher will have to worry about discipline and classroom management. A students’ behaviour may be affected by many factors such as problems at home, peer pressure, boredom, attention seeking and lack of consistency from the teacher. In order to maintain discipline in the classroom, teachers should avoid getting angry, raising their voice and using threats that they cannot follow through on. A teacher should never use physical punishment.
Business English is an area some teachers are nervous to teach as they feel they don’t know anything about business, but they don’t really need to because the clients are there to learn English. Business English learners may be taught one to one, in an in-company group or an in- school group. Clients may range from their early 20s to their mid-50s, some which are beginners but there will be diverse levels. They are often tired after working all day, and their attendance may be sporadic, so teachers may have to adapt. Many clients may still need basic grounding in English. Teachers can draw from their environment and learn about their job to make the lessons more relevant.
At the beginning of the course you will need to have a needs negotiation session where the students can take a needs analysis questionnaire (or informal discussion) to find out what they are looking to study in English and how they might be using it in their job. You can then make a plan for the course and in the following lesson, give them a plan for the class. Make sure to demonstrate the relevance for each topic or activity. It would benefit the teacher to learn about the company before the class starts and arrive over-prepared on the first day, dressed the part, and on time.
Lastly, this unit talked about monolingual and multilingual classes. Multilingual classes have students of various nationalities so the common language between everyone will be English. This will hopefully encourage them to speak to each other in English. These typically take place in primarily English-speaking places, where the students may be working or studying. The teacher, in this case, will have to be more culturally aware. Monolingual classes are usually in the students’ home country. In this class students will all have a common language and cultural background. They will be likely to help each other but may need to be discouraged from using their mother tongue.