The ESOL specialists are required to develop particular learning objectives considering bilingualism or multilingualism of their students, as well as the fact that English is not their first language. These factors make the choice of teaching methods and tools that could be efficient in the classroom challenging for the teachers. In this essay, as a teacher, I will share my practices that I find the most effective while working with non-native speakers of English.
First, I consider the use of graphic organizers one of the most effective methods of gaining proficiency in English. Different kinds of concept maps, story maps, T-charts help to divide the whole subject of concern into separate units, and, the most important, visualize these “bricks,” making the perception of definitions and ideas more accessible. Graphic organizers have proven their effectiveness, as they simultaneously have three functions: generative (finding the answers), representative (making the structure), and evaluative (teachers van assess students’ level) (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008, p. 31). After filling the map, it is useful to express the ideas orally, transferring written structure into a spoken language.
Second, the practice of pairing the students with partners has a considerable effect on learning, increasing the level of students’ involvement and attention. As Ballantyne, Sanderman, and Levy (2008) state, reading and discussing the texts in pairs “improves motivation and accountability” (p. 32). However, the attention must be paid to the most effective way of grouping the students: whether high-level and low-level students should be paired together or not.
Third, special techniques should be applied while teaching the students the academic vocabulary. The academic style, comparing to social, interpersonal language, requires the speaker and receiver to be “distanced from one another,” that causes its “decontextualization” (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008, p. 33). In other words, not only the concrete meaning of the phrases of sentences should be understood, but also the logic of their structure. While acquiring the academic vocabulary, is useful to analyze such formal structures, extracting the rule of their building, and then making own examples using this rule.
Thus, the strategies used by ESOL professionals are not always equal for those who teach English for native speakers. Also, in mixed non-native speakers’ groups of students, it is essential to consider the difference in the level of their knowledge, wisely choosing the appropriate techniques. The described methods are among the examples that have proved their efficiency in my teaching practice.
Ballantyne, K.G., Sanderman, A.R., Levy, J. (2008). Educating English language learners: Building teacher capacity. National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition. Web.