Teaching English to students who are considered beginners is definitely a huge challenge. As a teacher, you have to start everything from scratch. You cannot adapt the usual module that you use for regular learners since none of the lessons would be understood. Aside from being able to prepare your lessons well, you must also imbibe the value of patience. Despite all your efforts to make your students learn English over a long period of time, you might notice that there is not so much progress.
Types of Beginning Learners
Before you start preparing your lessons, you need to first identify what kind of learners you are going to have. The first type are called “False Beginners”. They are those who think that they are not good enough in using English for various purposes. This is why they want to learn everything from the start. However, this does not mean they have no contact with the language at all. At some point, they might have had already tried learning the language. The other type are called the “Absolute Beginners.” They are the ones who never had any contact with the language at all. Basic questions such as “How are you?” or “What is your name?” are not understood. For these two types of learners, there must be different approach to be used.
Teaching Absolute Beginners
Teaching absolute beginners is way more challenging since the students might be unresponsive to anything that you do. Whatever it is that you say, you can expect no reaction at all. They will just stare at you and smile or scratch their heads. Thus, here are some tips to help you out:
• Start with basic phrases. For instance, you can say “Hi. I am Jane.” Then, you need to explain the meaning of each word that you have mentioned. If possible, you have to point out some objects or people to make things clearer.
• Allow rote memorization. This is not really effective in learning more difficult concepts, but for beginners, this will suffice. You have to understand that when they start empty with their vocabulary, the best thing that they can do is to collect more words. This is only possible when they keep on memorizing new words.
• Bring pictures all the time. This works really well. There is no other way for you to explain the meaning of certain words to people who know nothing about English unless you let them see photos.
• Start with basic teaching strategies. Don’t make use of teaching styles that you are accustomed to in teaching advanced language learners. For instance, when you use graphs or charts to present grammar lessons, don’t expect these students to understand what you’re talking about.
• Be realistic with your expectations. Don’t expect the students to learn thousands of words in just a few sessions. Let them learn on their own pace and be supportive of their endeavor.
Teaching False Beginners
These learners have somehow acquired the basic skills in English. Therefore, you can prepare more challenging tasks. Provide more difficult grammar related lessons and exercises. However, you have to realize that they are still beginners in nature, and you need to keep a slow pace. You also have to provide assistance in every step of the way. If you are teaching both false and absolute beginners, you might feel less pressure with false beginners. However, you must not be too comfortable to the point that you treat them like advanced learners already.
Teaching English to non-native speakers is a huge challenge especially if they know no English at all. However, when you prepare your lessons well and you try to understand the needs of your students, you can make them learn the language faster.