Ineffective Teaching Methods for ESL

The most common mistake for beginning ESL teachers is they think that because they are a teacher they need to do most of the talking through explanation and instruction. This is not what your school will expect from you, nor is it a good approach. Students will tune you out as quickly as you can say, “Charlie Brown’s mother.” What you need to do is engage your students in a manner where they hold the key to the classroom. Get them involved by forcing responses, personalizing material, creating likable activities and constantly changing tasks. Make it up to them whether or not they will learn the material.

I’ve seen teachers in my day adapting roles that focus too much on accuracy in speech that discourages their students. Students that are constantly corrected for speaking mistakes easily become frustrated and will give up quickly. While it is okay to correct student’s speech, you should do this sparingly and instead encourage speech even if it isn’t always grammatically correct. For example, if you have a student in your class that struggles and he or she decides to one day speak up, but does so in a grammatically incorrect manner then you should reward this student with points or whatever type of reward system you have implemented and not correct their grammar. The goal is for you to talk less and have your students talk more, in English of course.

Too much focus on control through mimicking, memorization, and focus on grammar will not only bore your students, but also not allow them to apply language to real life situations. Students will not grasp your concept if they are just doing mindless repeating of grammar structures, it is important to personalize things as much as possible. Ask your students if they can make a sentence with the grammar structure instead or have them write down a something that applies to their life. This does not mean you shouldn’t have your students repeat or memorize; of course you should for initial stages of learning the material. But teaching esl students involves self-discovery rather than lectures.

With quality esl games or activities to engage your students you should have no trouble getting your students excited about English. Remember allow your students to do most of the talking, while you merely present the material to them. And most importantly put on a smile and have fun! If you're bored, your students will definitely be bored as well.