Teaching Special Groups in ESL - The Types of Beginners


The first group of students we are looking at in this series are the beginners. It is important to understand that beginners can be of any age. This is why we break this category down into the following sub-categories: absolute beginners, false beginners, adult beginners, young beginners and beginners without the Roman alphabet. Find out more about this type of student group in this video.

Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

This was an excellent unit because it was chalk-full of activities, which I as a teacher find extremely helpful. I don't want my K-6 students to be bored so if we can dust off an old game, add a twist, or add something entirely new, so much the better! I also haven't come across this particular teaching system (ESA) before, or at least not in so many words; the typical structure I learned for teaching was: warm-up activity, review previous topic/language concept, intro new topic/language concept and practice it, then do an activity to practice it further. So it is similar but wasn't defined in those terms. Perhaps it is a British system or a particular groups. Either way it does make sense. It's interesting, however, how we retain all of those methodologies despite their obvious flaws; it must be so we know where we went wrong. Perhaps it's just to remind us that we need to mix and match to actually be able to teach well. Grammar-translation, for example, can be interesting as an advanced student of language--something I have done myself in a higher German literature class--but is an utter waste in terms of teaching fluent communication. Drills such as those used in the Audio-Lingual methodology are pretty essential to early language learning but they become boring very quickly as learners advance; sadly enough, many countries still use this methodology. In my experience, the students so taught struggle with holding conversations. The other methodologies have their own peculiarities. Going back to other topics covered in this unit, the section and snippets (in the ESA stages)about correcting errors was quite helpful as well. It can be tricky to know when to correct someone and when to let it lie. I've been on both ends of the equation as either the corrector or the correctee and it can be frustrating to find the balance. Correcting and being corrected can wear you out but on the other hand teaching and learning the correct way is the desired outcome. It is a little relieving to think of correction as mainly confined to one stage, the study stage.

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