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Tips for Teaching Different Types of English Learning Groups

Tips for Teaching Different Types of English Learning Groups | ITTT | TEFL Blog

There are many types of English learning groups and each group requires different teaching techniques. In my opinion, English learners can be divided into 2 groups: beginners and English learners for specific purposes. Beginners can be students who have no English at all or know a few simple structures. They can be children or adults. English learners for specific purposes are students who have a basic English level and want to achieve their specific aims of learning.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nhung T.

Young Beginners

Children are quick to learn but prone to forget. Therefore, they need frequent repetition and revision. Here are some tips for successful lessons with young beginners:

  • Children can be hyperactive so it is vital to establish rules and stick to them from the first lesson.
  • Learning should be made fun and activities should be changed frequently to stimulate their curiosity. Children can learn well through simple games, songs, role-plays and interactive activities.
  • Lessons should be as visual as possible and teachers need to have extra teaching materials on hand.
  • Speak slowly, in short and direct sentences.
  • Give clear and simple instructions before each activity.
  • Always check if the students understand clearly.
  • Give positive encouragement and frequent praise to the students to stimulate their self-esteem.
  • Ask for choral repetition.
  • Prepare lesson plans thoroughly before starting classes.

Also read: 10 Tips When Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Children

Adult Beginners

Adults who choose to study English will come to classes when they have free time and they often have specific purposes for learning. Many adults are used to a very traditional style of education so teachers need to adjust their teaching methods suitably. In order to teach adults as beginners successfully, teachers should:

  • Connect with students and understand their needs.
  • Keep instructions clear and simple.
  • Always check if the students understand clearly.
  • Give students a lot of time to practise.
  • Arrange group-work and pair-work activities to allow students to practise more.
  • Give individual students a chance to speak.
  • Ask for choral repetition.
  • Encourage students to only speak English in class.
  • Give homework and revise constantly.

Also read: The 5 Best TEFL Games for Adult Students

English Learners for Specific Purposes

There are many reasons for learning English, they can be for conversation, business, or examinations. Each category demands different teaching techniques.

Conversation Learners

People who choose to learn English conversation are usually stimulating students. Below are some tips for a successful conversation class:

  • Depending on the level of the group, a teacher can prepare different authentic materials such as: newspapers, films, songs and videos to encourage conversations. Games and role-plays are also used to make conversations more fun.
  • For basic learners, students should be given simple topics to practise and should be pre-taught the new vocabularies relative to the topics. Intermediate students can read authentic materials and they can show their opinions about an issue. In high-level classes teachers can organize debates and discussions on varied issues. Class debates are useful to practise expression in a safe environment. The topics should refer to all the students’ interests.
  • Teaching and learning conversation should focus on communication and fluency, not accuracy. It is important to find the right balance when correcting students’ pronunciation and grammar while speaking. Over-correction will make students feel inhibited and lack confidence to communicate.
  • Group-work and pair-work activities are useful to help students practise talking more. Students should also be encouraged to rotate partners to develop confidence.
  • Students need to learn how to make formal and informal conversations. They should have strategies for entering, extending, and ending conversations.
  • Homework assignments should include making daily conversations, such as shopping or on the telephone. Students can record conversations and bring it to class to demonstrate what they have practised.

Also read: 7 Awesome ESL Conversation Activities to Really Get Your Students Talking

Business Students

Adults who need to learn business English usually have specific requirements for work, such as formal writing, telephone use, marketing, sales, etc. They are also busy students and can only attend class in their free time. These students may be under pressure to learn quickly. Therefore, they need plenty of encouragement, support, conversation practice and practical exercises. Here are some tips to make a considerable improvement on teaching results:

  • Find out what students really want to achieve, and their expectations, such as: why they learn English, who they communicate with in their work environment, etc.
  • Choose suitable materials that create authentic situations in the classroom.
  • Be flexible and try to anticipate problems (starting classes early in the morning or finishing late in the evening, or classes may be cancelled at the last minute because of unforeseen problems).
  • The students are businessmen and businesswomen, so teachers need to behave professionally: be punctual, pay attention to appearance, make sure teaching resources are clean and tidy.
  • They are adults and some may have high positions in companies, so it is important for teachers to choose suitable activities that make students feel comfortable. Use ‘activities’ rather than ‘games’. Role-plays, debates, and discussions are great options for business students but the activity should have a clear purpose and end when the goal has been achieved.

Also read: 7 Great Resources for Teaching Business English

Examination Classes

Students who are studying for specific exams such as TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge exams need motivating and stimulating constantly. They should understand clearly their goals and see the study schedule from the beginning. Teachers need to help them to keep up with their work and cover all the required lessons within the allocated time. Students should practise all skills with suitable learning programs, books and materials. They should know the structure of the exam and practise frequently in advance.

It is important to classify students based on their language levels and aims of learning. Teaching English as a Second Language can be challenging but when teachers have good knowledge about their students and good preparation, including patience and enthusiasm, the results can be amazing.

Also read: Evaluation and Testing of Students in the ESL Classroom

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