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In Unit 19, types of classes were discussed. Beginners, individual students, children, English for specific purposes or business English, and monolingual/muli-lingual were detailed to provide some background, tips on how to teach those specific students, and possible problems a teacher might experience were also highlighted.
Beginners come in many different levels from an absolute beginner, false beginner, adult beginner, young beginner, and even beginners whose primary language does not use the Roman alphabet. An absolute beginner is a student who has no English experience at all. A false beginner is one who may have studied English previously, but has no recent experience using it and probably has not retained much of the language. The adult beginner often has more motivation than younger students, while younger beginners tend to be able to learn the language much easier than adults. Finally, beginners who have not used the Roman alphabet could be part of any of the previous beginner categories, but will also require extra reading and writing practice since the alphabet will be completely different than the one they are used to using. Teachers must be prepared to teach beginner students. There are many techniques that can make it easier on the teacher, but care must be taken to ensure that the students do not get frustrated and give up.
Teaching individual students offers some advantages for the teacher in that the student is usually highly motivated, a clear understanding of the student’s desires for learning can be gleaned, the teacher only has to deal with one level of teaching, and there can be a more personal interchange between student and teacher. However, some disadvantages might be that group work with different individuals is almost impossible and can be tiring. Homework can be assigned more easily since the teacher will only have one set of homework to review and grade.
When teaching young children, it is important to remember that they are actually children. So a slower, more clearly pronounced delivery is required, sometimes a higher pitch and exaggerated intonation is appropriate, and extra repetition. Teachers should be familiar with the student’s names and refer to them directly using positive responses despite mistakes. Including a lot of different activities will help keep the attention of the students and ensuring that it is fun, well-paced, and relatable will also help. Children may have difficulty in expressing problems through language and may resort to actions instead. Teachers must be aware of this and recognize whether the child is simply having fun or there is some other reason for acting out.
Business English or English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) has become more popular as companies attempt to globalize their products and services. When teaching business English, it is not the teacher’s responsibility to teach how to be a business person, but to teach specific words, phrases, and context that a typical business person may need in the workplace. For example, call centers may want their employees to learn how to answer the phone using proper English. Business English classes may be one-on-one, in a classroom at a school, or even at the place of business. Since business English students are typically adults, teachers should ensure that they are prepared and understand what the company wants the employees to learn. A common method of determining what students want to get out of a class is to perform a “Needs Analysis.” These are commonly a paper form that the client fills out with the instructor to ensure that classes provide the necessary structure and content. The needs analysis is also good for the individual students to fill out so that within the context of what the client wants, the teacher will know where to focus the lessons for the students.
Monolingual classes usually take place in a student’s home country where all of the other students speak the same language and are learning English together. This means that most of the students will have similar difficulties, although to varying degrees, and essentially the same motivations. Teachers must be aware of cultural issues and be careful not to do things that are taboo, but also try to include things that are of interest to the group even if those things do not interest the teacher. In a multi-lingual class, students come from different language backgrounds and are of different nationalities. These are common in countries where English is the native language, but the students have migrated to the country or were never taught English as a child. Students in a multi-lingual class will often be forced to communicate with each other because not every student will have the same primary language and the only common language will be English.
In all cases, teachers should avoid speaking in the native language of the students or country in which the classes are being taught. This will help the students become used to hearing English and force them to pay closer attention in order to understand what is happening and being said in the class.