The Most Common Problems Students in Mexico Face When Learning English
2019-01-02 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences
Most of the Mexican learners have difficulties with English due to a lack of the use of English in daily life. Most people in Mexico do not normally have real contact with English outside the classroom. They are usually only exposed to it through the media, such as online channels or music videos but most of them never listened to a real conversation in English or practiced a real-life situation (as asking for directions, ordering food, etc). If you are interested in teaching English in Mexico, this article will be very helpful as it highlights the most common problems students in Mexico face when learning English.
This post was written by our ITTT graduate Pablo P.
Lack of using English in everyday life
Only a minor percentage of Mexican students have had the chance of traveling outside the country and were able to use a bit of English. These kinds of students have solved communication problems in English and have, thus, been encouraged to speak. This leads to a higher fluency in English.
On the other hand, students that have not had the chance of traveling abroad or making foreign friends, often do not put their English skills into practice outside of school. Instead, they are left with learning new vocabulary or grammar structures that they don’t get to actually use. They might then feel uncomfortable with English when trying to communicate with others and might lose interest in the language.
Lack of English Vocabulary
One of the most common problems when encouraging students to speak English is that they mix in some words from their own first language due to a lack of vocabulary and grammar structures. For a teacher in Mexico, it is therefore essential to reinforce the vocabulary on a regular basis and having the students describe the meaning of a word they don’t know. Having this skill will allow them to solve this communication problem and build up their self-confidence.
Using the Internet to improve their vocabulary is also a great solution. Have your students do a quick research of a specific topic and gather all the unknown words. Next, have them try and figure out the meaning of these words through context. Then, the teacher will step in and explain the proper meaning and how the word is used in English. Blogs or news/magazine articles are a great starting point for this exercise.
Problems with Reading Comprehension
When it comes to reading comprehension there are various common problems for English learners from Mexico. A lot of the time, Mexican students become frustrated when it comes to reading English texts because they try to translate every single word into Spanish to figure out the meaning of the text. For example, when introducing new vocabulary words, most students will immediately ask or search for the Spanish meaning instead of figuring out the meaning out of the context themselves. If that is the case, the teacher should encourage the students to finish reading the text and underlining all unfamiliar words. After everyone has read the text, the next step will be to figure out the meaning together with the whole class using the context of the text with guidance from the teacher.
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As a conclusion, the problems mentioned above are quite common with Mexican learners and are mostly caused by a lack of vocabulary and the need to translate word for word into Spanish. I believe the best way to get Mexican students involved with English is to encourage them to use English speaking media online and guide them towards a more out-of-the-box way of thinking.
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