Several Ways Parents Can Help TEFL Teachers
Often times, when one thinks about teaching English as a Second Language (henceforth 'ESL'), the predominant thought is that of, "[w]hat can I as a teacher do to help my students improve?" For the most part, the reflection is introspective, rarely moving out of these bounds. However, one is of the opinion that parents play a large factor in the child's learning of a foreign language. Canvassed below are some of the reasons why one is of this opinion.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ignatia D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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Non-English Speaking Community
Most learners of English live in societies where English is not the predominantly spoken language. Often, in these countries, English is taught as a second or even third language, if at all. This makes it harder for both the learner (to correctly learn the language) and the ESL teacher (to adequately teach the student). Within such cases, the obvious hurdle that one is met with is devising lesson plans that keep the student interested as well as motivated enough to continue studying even when not in class. This is particularly difficult to achieve, for once the student is out of the classroom door, all remnants of the English language disappear as quick as dew in the sunlight.
This is where the parents of the student (and in most cases, child) come into play. The student is exposed to his or her ESL teacher for one or two hours a day for a specific number of hours per week. The student or child gains access to correct spoken English for those limited hours before being handed back to their parents. The student or child is in the immediate environment of their parent or guardian for far longer than they are with the ESL teacher. Thus, this would be the perfect opportunity for the parent to play a proactive, rather than a passive role in the child's learning and gradual adoption of the language.
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There will be difficulty in raising a bi- or multilingual child where neither parent speaks the second or third language learned, however with a little interest and attempt on the parents' side, they too can reap the rewards of learning a little of that language from interacting with the child (or student). Parents can encourage the student or child to read easy-to-understand and fun books to help broaden the student (or child's) vocabulary while helping him or her with her reading ability. Parents can actively question their child on a weekly basis on what he or she has learned as a form of revision overview.
Playing games or enquiring about grammar points are another easy way to assess what the child has learned. Parents can also interact with the teacher, whether during meetings or when picking their child up after class. The teacher and parents can have a mini-briefing session every so often so that they can inquire about the progress of their child. Parents can also ask for methods that can be used to further assist the child on points he or she may be struggling in. By working collaboratively alongside the teacher, without attempting to subvert or undermine the ESL teacher, the parents are actively assisting the child reach their learning goal quicker. Making use of the various learning stratagem, the parents will also bond with the child or student.
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There are some things that an ESL teacher is unable to do, such as discipline the child (depending on the country and societal values), therefore it is of utmost importance that parents accept their duty to discipline their child. ESL teachers often struggle with discipline and it can be quite a difficult task to find a method of returning the order to a class where a disruptive student exists. Thus, in such a case, having recourse to helpful and understanding parents would make the teaching and learning process easier and more enjoyable for all parties concerned.
Thus to conclude, parents and ESL teachers need to work collaboratively in order for the best results to be achieved. The student or child has a limited time-frame spent in a native English environment, as he or she spends most of his or her time surrounded by non-English speakers. The parents, where they can, need to enable the maximum exposure to the learned language as they possibly can. This would benefit both the parent and the child (or student) as, in some cases, parents pick fragments of the language here and there with the constant parent-child discussion sessions. Parents can also actively assist the student (or child) revise and review learned content through games, reading, etc. Where discipline and behavioral issues run rampant, the parents can intervene to reassert the ESL teacher's authority, while still taking into consideration the student's (or child's) self-autonomy and growing pains.
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