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Unit 20 is about some of the most common ESL problems and how to solve them.
1. Students speak more of their native language than English
The lower the students’ level or ages, the more probable it is that they will speak their native language most of the time. Some will even chat in pairs or small groups, completely oblivious to what is going on in class.
Now, each ESL class is different, and they all have different goals, but no matter what their age or level, students must understand that they must at the very least try to speak as much English as they can, even if it is for simple greetings, requests or statements. For younger students, turn it into a game. Create a chart with the students’ names and give those who did not speak their native language throughout the class a star. Or create a point penalty system. Once a student reaches a certain number of points, they must do something in front of the class, like tell a story or answer questions from classmates. These might not work for older students. But they will certainly try to communicate in English if you pretend you don’t speak their native language.
2. Students are too dependent
The other side of the coin is when you have students who constantly seek your help. They may ask you to help them complete an exercise or just blurt out they can’t/don’t know how to do something on their own.
It’s very important to empower students and help them feel that they can indeed do it. Say you give them an exercise in which they have to decide which article to use, “a” or “an”. Look at the first item “apple” and ask your student, “Is it a apple or an apple? What sounds right to you?” Once they give you the correct answer, tell them to try the next one. And the next one. “See you CAN do it! Good job!” Sometimes students feel overwhelmed by the blanks, and all they need is a little nudge.
3. Students are bored and unmotivated
Students eyes are glazed over, and you blame the boring coursebook or the Future Perfect.
It’s a hard truth, but the reason your students are bored is you. It is your responsibility to engage students and keep the lesson interesting – no matter what you are teaching. Teaching the Future Continuous tense? There are ways to make the topic more engaging. Talking about business? There are ways to make the topic more fun.
4. Students with poor listening skills
Investigate possible reasons for the listening difficulty. A student's processing problem might signal the presence of another problem. For example, the child might have an ear infection, a hearing problem, or an attention deficit. Also, consider whether she might be bored, distressed, or oppositional. If you suspect the possibility of a hearing problem, ask the nurse to screen the student's hearing. Bear in mind, however, that such screening is a limited diagnostic tool, and the student will require additional testing by an audiologist to definitively rule out a hearing problem. You also might want to request an evaluation from the school's speech-language specialist to further pinpoint any difficulties.