Beginner Students: Easy to Teach Them or Not?
Being a student at the elementary or beginner level in any language, not just English, is not only a challenging task when beginning to learn the target language but also a clean slate to progress the learning in the correct way. Having never learned English before, it can sometimes be a difficult feat of where to begin. However, this allows the teacher to start the student or students off in the correct way so that the challenges for the student will become less and less as they progress through the language difficulties.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Amanda T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Beginner students are the easiest group of students to begin teaching with simply because it's likely they haven't studied the target language in the past or have only studied it very little. This leaves a great amount of room for improvement and also a "clean slate" for the teacher to teach the students properly at the same level. Occasionally, it is possible to come across a student or group of students who have studied English, or the target language, to the intermediate level but have developed poor habits with particular types of grammar. For example, if a student who has been learning English as a second language for two years continuously "him" instead of "he" in the incorrect context, because this has been developed into a habit the student may have trouble transitioning into the correct usage after a long period of time using the incorrect usage.
Nothing to Change
These habits are sometimes difficult to "undo" from a teaching perspective and may require a lot of individual time spent on a particular topic to correct the habit. However, if a student is a beginner then these mistakes can be corrected early on before they are developed into habits, making it easier for the student to progress in learning the target language in the full, correct, and understandable way.
Another advantage to teaching beginner students is that most of the time beginner level students are open to multi-type learning strategies and techniques. Students who have been studying a language for awhile have most likely already developed strategies that work best for them from other teachers or learning environments or developed them on their own. This can be helpful when teaching because it shows the teacher where the students weaknesses are when they are at a higher level than beginner, but if the studying methods are flawed in any way or contain "shortcuts" that prevent the student from learning in the correct way, or correct usage, then it can once again be difficult to correct at a higher level.
Introducing proper learning strategies and studying methods to students a beginner level allows the teacher to show the students the appropriate way to approach certain grammar or scenarios without eliminating the difficult material. This can also be an opportunity for the teacher to supervise the student directly after teaching them the method to ensure they are learning in the correct way. Many students will still find ways to "cut corners" when learning difficult tasks and come up with their own ways of learning, but at a beginner level, it is often easier for a teacher to correct these mistakes early on before they become a hindrance to learning the target language.
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