How To Teach English to Absolute Beginners

Teaching English to absolute beginners can be a tricky business. A lot of English teachers fall into the trap of overestimating their students. This can have undesirable effects in the whole learning process of the English learner. Teaching English to an absolute beginner is different and more special of a task than a common English tutorial.

Here are some tips you could find useful in teaching this kind of students:

  1. Know where they are coming from. Even if they never spoke English at all, they would at least be familiar with it, as English is a common language in TV and in the Internet. If your client has access to it, he may have chances of hearing some English phrases such as “I love you” or “Hi”. Even if it is just a single word, determine if he knows any and build on that.
  2. Assess yourself. In dealing with an absolute beginner, you have to meet him more than halfway. You have to learn his native language as well. This will aid you in establishing rapport with your student and by building a springboard in starting your lessons. You first have to earn your student’s rapport and trust which could affect greatly his learning with you.
  3. If you were not able to learn your student’s native language, you may need help from a translator. You may also need to establish first your house rules during your teaching sessions like: “repeat” “be quiet” or “sit down”. This will ensure that your lessons can proceed with ease.
  4. You may find that ESL workbooks lesson plans are extremely useful in laying out the process specifically designed for absolute beginners. If you can get a copies, then you can use them as a firm basis as you go along.
  5. Start with the shortest sentences. Simple introductory sentences may appear the simplest for you but not for them. For example, “Hello, my name is John.” can be surprisingly handful for them. You should be able to select alternatives for the sentence that will still hold the same thought. A better alternative for the above sentence is “Hello, I’m John”, which holds fewer words but with still the same meaning.
  6. Repetition is the key, you are not expected to finish a lot in a given time, rather, proceed in a very slow pace. Your student has to build his confidence in speaking the language first before you introduce more concepts or words.
  7. Make use of hand gestures, visual aids or pictures generously. The use of these gestures and materials can aid their learning in a big way. Remember, when words can’t deliver your message, the visual site of what you want to mean will do the work. Little by little, you can introduce concepts to your student, and build vocabulary with that. Should you decide to use the aid of gestures, be sensitive in using gestures that can appear offensive on your student’s culture.
  8. To aid your student’s memory, write the English word on the board or anywhere he could often see once he learns its correct pronunciation.

Nothing beats the fulfillment of being able to teach a new language. It will take a lot of patience and effort on your part, but you can be surprised with the progress an earnest student can have.


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