How to teach English

How to Teach English

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How to teach English? This is a question that is asked by every educator the first time he accepts a job or an opportunity to provide instruction in language teaching. As an educator who has been involved with pre-service and in-service educators, I have surprisingly heard this question in a couple different forms, but it always points back to the fundamental construct of – how to teach English?

Luckily, there is no right way to teach English. Also, for students, there is no right way to learn English. Both depend on various skill sets and what is right for one person might be uncomfortable for another. So, how do educators new to the profession, or educators with years of experience, grow as professionals and learn how to teach English?

There are a few categories with various elements we have identified to help educators start answering the question of- How to teach English?

  1. Learning Theory
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Lesson Planning
  • Learning theory will focus mainly on language learning theory and how this can be applied to the classroom and lesson planning. If an educator formulates how he believes students learn languages, then this allows the educator to think through presenting information, building classroom activities to facilitate learning, and  focusing on various ways students learn. Examples:
    • Behaviorism: Set up lessons the same way each week  so the students become conditioned to what they will do in certain segments of class.
    • Monitor Hypothesis in Monitor Model: Students learn better when they are able to monitor their output. If this is a belief, then the educator will provide opportunities and construct activities for students to monitor their output.
    • Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP): Information activates nodes and pathways in the brain, and constant activation builds stronger pathways that allow for easier recall/learning.
  • Classroom Management’s key focus is anything that involves the classroom. The students, educator, classroom size, rules, personalities, learning styles, etc… There are so many things that can go wrong in the classroom, that the educator has to recognize all these moving parts play a role in the classroom.
  • Lesson Planning involves the actual planning of the lessons and thinking through the aspects of student age, student level, lesson objectives, main aims of class, segments of the lesson, etc… At first this may be daunting to new educators, or even experienced educators who have not lesson planned before, but this will be a structure for the educator during class time. Learning theory and lesson planning will work hand in hand for the educator.

 

These are three main categories that encompass a lot of information. Even though it sounds daunting and can be a terrifying thought, educators are always learning on the job. Every class will be a new experience and a new opportunity to learn, but the educator must recognize when things are and are not working.  Then, through reflection and hypothesis formation, think of  why something succeeded and strategies on how to improve areas that fell short. Maybe the hypotheses are correct, or maybe they are wrong, it does not really matter. What matters most is that the educator will constantly push himself to greater heights and learn invaluable lessons along the way.

How to teach English? The educator should use his strengths, understand the various elements of class, and constantly analyze success and failure from each lesson.  A late preacher by the name of Ray Stedman told this analogy one time:

“I am reminded of a schoolteacher who applied for a job and was turned down in preference for another younger teacher who only had three years of experience. The first teacher protested to the principal, ‘I’ve had 25 years of experience, so why was I passed over in favor of this younger one?’ And the principal said, ‘Well, I have to disagree with you. You haven’t had 25 years of experience. You’ve had one year’s experience 25 times.'”

The secret of how to teach English is this, make sure to get at least one year of experience for every one year taught. View our articles and find your way today!