Using students' mother tongue in the English classroom: pros and cons

As a teacher trainer I have often been asked about the use of L1 by students in their English lessons.

As a matter of fact, it was not so long ago that a great number of teachers admitted feeling guilty about using students’ L1 in the English classrooms.

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Turning Input into Intake: Helping Students Speak.

We had a great teacher at university who helped us activate our vocabulary and speak in our lessons on a large variety of topics. Later I realized that she had one very simple and effective technique which I used regularly with my own students. She would sort of step aside once we all started speaking, and allowed us any deviations from the theme if she saw that we all took part in a discussion.

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A little bit of pressure does you good?

They can fear making mistakes, failing to understand the person they’re speaking too, or simply drying up. So shouldn’t we try to make speaking activities as stress free as possible?

There are certainly benefits to making sure students are well prepared, that they have the necessary language, that they have a clear idea of what the task demands. However, there are also some good arguments for not trying to remove all stress, and even adding some pressure at times.

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Four games for vocabulary development

In this post, we’ll share four classroom games that we also find effective in teaching vocabulary to English Language Learners.

Nine Box Grid

We use this simple game, which we learned and modified from English teacher Katie Toppel, a lot. As you can see from the image, it’s just a matter of putting nine words (or, when we teach phonics, letters) on a numbered three-by-three grid (for a total of nine boxes/spaces) on the class whiteboard.

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L1: Pros and Cons.

When I was a school child and began studying English at the age of eight, I was fortunate to have a great teacher who spoke English to us since day one. There was our mother tongue used at home and at school during all the lessons, and then there was this exciting new subject where we learned how to speak a different language. Nobody used abbreviations like L1 and L2, nor were we aware of the modern classification into levels A, B, C. It was a reflection of real life: everybody around us spoke the same language, and then at school we learned a foreign one.

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Getting Past the B2 Plateau

Motivation can overcome almost all obstacles. It can overcome weaknesses in natural ability or deficiencies in the learning environment, while in contrast a lack of motivation can derail the brightest and most talented of learners. The secret, the holy grail, the Aladdin's lamp of teaching that we all seek isn’t only how to ignite the fire of inquisitiveness but how to promote such a burning desire to improve that sustained and independent learning occurs long after the teacher steps away and after the initial excitement of being able to engage in a conversation in English has subsided.

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Capitalising on the Differences in ESL Classrooms

Like most Indian classrooms, my classrooms were a cross-section of the larger diverse Indian society. Students from varied cultural, religious, social and economic backgrounds mix in the classroom space. As a teacher, I strongly believe that this diversity can be capitalised in order to build a society of citizens who treat each other with respect. Especially during our times when people hate and kill each other in the name of differences of faith, colour and region, we language teachers can make a difference in our classrooms.

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Discipline Problems

Discipline and motivation are the staples of our life, the ever-present topic of any educational discussion. I used to treat them in a very simple way. One, I have never had any discipline problems, or if there were some I could always cope. Two, motivation was not an issue since I could always learn what a student needed and create an individualized approach.

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