Through this course, I have learned a range of things, including how to organize a lesson, different methods of teaching the language, areas of english to especially focus on, and more.
Now that I have learned the ESA method of organizing lesson plans, I will try to implement this in every lesson plan I do. I understand the importance of the three different learning stages, and the need to quickly get student’s attention with a “warm up,” instead of just jumping into a PowerPoint presentation and giving student work
sheets. After providing sufficient time for the study phase, and having the students learn the material
in different ways such as word searches, writing activities, and other worksheets, I would move on to the Activate phase – the phase where the students can really engage with the material and practice it in a more practical way. I think this is an important phase to pay attention to and the instructor should think of interesting ways the students can explore the material and use it with each other. I’d explore group work, role-plays, presentations, etc.
I have also learned that in many cases, it’s good not to interrupt the students when they are practicing the language, and instead let them speak on their own. If you notice some big errors that the students are making, you can bring attention to it after the activity, but it’s best to let them do the activity with no interruptions. This idea is the difference between accuracy and fluency activities. Accuracy activities may include spelling worksheets or grammar and vocabulary tests. Students aim to be as accurate as possible and will be graded for this. Fluency activities are designed to have students be creative with the language and are concerned with effective use of the language and a flow of communication – everything doesn’t have to be accurate to the last detail.
I’ve also learned about the importance of teaching pronunciation – one of the most neglected aspects of ESL teaching. I would discuss with students the idea of “stress” and how a single sentence can have numerous meanings depending on where you place the stress. There are several ways to teach stress, including chants, humming out the sentences, using some kind of percussion to indicate where the words are stressed, and underlining the stressed words on a chalkboard. There is a general rule that students can follow – e.g. such as the stress is on the first syllable for most two syllable nouns, but on the last syllable for most two syllable verbs – but these are never absolute, so the students should refer to a dictionary if they are in doubt.
There are also ways to discuss pronouncing particular sounds. Linguists classify sounds based on the place of articulation – what speech organs are used to form particular sounds (such as the alveolar, the bony area just above the top teeth that the tongue hits when pronouncing letters such as ‘t,’ and dental, when the tongue is place in between the teeth, such as the –th sound). I would conduct routine pronunciation drills with students, showing them how the mouth is supposed to be formed when saying particular sounds, using diagrams, videos
, and my own speech as examples. I would also go around the room and check that the students were using correct pronunciation.
Writing is also a very important area of ESL, and one that is often neglected in ESL teaching. After learning that writing is often not given enough attention, I will keep it in mind to dedicate classes to writing exercises and make sure the students get a good grasp of these skills. Checking for grammar, punctuation, spelling, fluency and even handwriting are important. Creative ways to teach writing in the “activate” stage include having the students fill in cartoon dialogue bubbles, describe what is going on in a picture, or do a free writing activity.
I have also learned about things I should keep in mind when selecting texts for the students to read. For example, prior to giving the text, you should select some important vocabulary from it and review
it in class. Thus, the students will have an easier time reading the text, as they have already learned some key words from it. Also, try to select a reading that the class will enjoy, and make sure it is the appropriate level.
Also, from this course I have learned that games are both a helpful and important tool in the classroom. Games are a good way to keep the students’ interest and test them on their knowledge. Incorporating well-known games in the classroom, using word and spelling games, finding ESL games online
and making up your own are all ways to make lessons more engaging in the activate stage.
Finally, I’ve learned the importance of keeping organized. Planning lesson plans in advanced and keeping a written record will help keep you on track and will help ensure a successful class. One of the things I will try to do is anticipate problems and ways to fix them in advanced. For example, if you are teaching a grammar lesson that you think may be especially hard, add an extra worksheet just in case extra practice is needed. Generally speaking, it is also good to prepare an extra activity in case the class finished all the activities early and the students have nothing to do. When planning lessons, keep track of how much time you think each activity will take.