Teaching students is not as easy as it may seem. Teaching beginning students is no walk in the park either. There is more to teaching than going by the book. It might seem like common sense, but there are more important aspects of teaching. The term ‘beginner’ tends to strike fear into the hearts of inexperienced teachers. The teacher needs to distinguish what kind of beginner the student falls into. For example, there is the absolute beginner (no English), fake beginner (exposed to a little English), adult and young beginners, and a beginner without Roman alphabet.
Remember to take into account that a student can fall into more than one of the categories mentioned. There are various methodology and techniques for teaching beginners which require special skills and psychology. For example, the teacher needs to be aware of the students needs with a clear and realistic aim. Do not try to do too much. Remember to adapt to the situation, and to be as visual as possible. Use of gestures and visual aids adds interest and reduce the need for further verbal explanation.
Pacing the lesson with frequent group or pair activities along with a lot of homework is effective when teaching beginners. The teacher can also face some problems when teaching beginners. Like how to help a student who is falling behind the others, or getting through a lesson sooner than expected, and students who seem not to be interested in learning English at all. These are all hypothetical situations, but all teachers are bound to come across a situation like this sooner or later. I was reluctant at first, but I have come across these situations.
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When I had students who were shy or nervous in class, I solved the situation by pairing the student with someone who is more active and talkative. I believe it helps motivate the weaker student and builds rapport. If I get through a lesson sooner than expected then I would re-review the lesson taught and maybe do a quick activity from the top of my head. If a student just do not seem motivated or interested in learning English I would ask the student some questions with an answer the student would know and give compliments to boost his self steem. With this I would hope to increase his interest in learning English. Also, remember to stay calm. Just because something unexpected has happened during a lesson does not mean that it is the end of the world. From my experience, the activity that is going to be used is very important in getting your lesson through to the students. Remember, it is not how you start, but how you finish. I have had classes that started slow in the beginning and ended well in the end and vise versa.
From the feedbacks from one of my students, she said, “I like it better when we have fun towards the end of the class. ” The student said that leaving the class in a high spirited and enthusiastic feeling made her anticipate for the next session. When I say activities, I do not mean a simple crossword or a word jumble worksheet. The teacher needs to take the next step and put some creativity into the activity so the students will appreciate the effort that has been put into it.
There are various other activities like Pictionary, Mime activity, Role playing a certain scenario, etc. Teaching beginners requires effort from the teacher as well as the student for the lesson to be effective. So remember the technique and methods for teaching, problems that may arise from teaching, and activities that can be used to increase the interest of the lesson.
- ITTT, Unit 19 Teaching special groups, pg1.
- Chelsea Lee, oral interview, 14 February 2013, student’s home in Seoul, Korea.
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