Teach English in Jiazhang Zhen - Changzhi Shi

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Learning a second language is hard work. I know because I have been immersed in a foreign country and learned its language. Learning English as a foreign language with tenses and punctuation not found in some languages and “exceptions to the rules” is difficult for many people. Some of our ESL students will come to class never having spoken English or having learned it from a non-native speaker. In all our classes as ESL teachers, we need to remember that encouraging a student to do their best is needed for both students who excel at the task and for those who struggle to put together a simple introduction. I have worked with young learners in various capacities all my adult life. I am currently Teaching English online to young children as an independent contractor with an established company. My remarks in this essay will be geared to ideas that I have learned as I worked with children. According to the Miriam Webster online dictionary a kid’s definition of encouragement is something that gives hope, determination, or confidence; the act of giving hope or confidence to (someone). As ESL teachers we are responsible to give our students the hope and confidence that they can succeed in learning English. But the question is “how”. There is a saying that “a smile is worth a thousand words”. The first step in being an encourager to our ESL students is to walk into each class with a smile on our face and make each student feels like they are important to you. Ask the students questions about their day or their family. Wait for a few minutes to give them a chance to formulate an answer in English. If they are having trouble answering, simplify the question. These small gestures at the beginning of class will go a long way in giving your student hope and confidence before they even begin the class instruction time. Kids love stickers. I have stickers with words like “great job”, “super student”, “awesome”. I use them when a student uses a new vocabulary word in a sentence correctly or they finally “get it” when we are studying a difficult grammar point. I am fortunate to only have one student at a time, but I know that isn’t the case with all teachers, so the important thing is to remember to give stickers to even the struggling student. Did you hear them pronounce a word correctly? Make a big deal of it and give them a sticker. A teacher can also make glittery stars, put them on a popsicle stick and show them when the class does a good job with a project or a vocabulary unit. These stars can also have words of encouragement on them such as “Job well done”, “terrific”, “congratulations”. There may be some students who struggle with reading and have trouble finding words or answering gap-filled worksheets. If you see a “deer in the headlight” look, go over to the student, or pairs of students and encourage them to sound out the words quietly and give a high five or thumbs up when they succeed. If you have some freedom in planning your own lessons and curriculum, a great way to encourage students will be to find out what their interests are and plan some lessons around these themes. For example, you might use a sports theme one class or a favorite cartoon theme the next. This will encourage your students to participate to find out how to express themselves to friends about what they enjoy. Encourage the children to bring in a “show and tell” object to talk about. This may draw out even the quietest students. Praise them for using the right words to talk about it. Also plan some activities in as many lessons as possible geared towards all of the learning styles. Encourage the students to try out different activities to expand their learning processes and give verbal rewards or high-fives when they succeed! A teacher may be able to have a lending library of English books that can be earned by carrying out various activities in the activate stage. If a teacher shows a genuine concern for their students and has a smile for each one and gives praise when vocabulary or grammar or phonics is learned well, their ESL students will find courage and encouragement to continue what may seem an insurmountable task of learning English!