Teaching English Language to Beginners

Young students especially, have short attention spans and quickly lose concentration so in order to keep lesson momentum and the student interested in the topic at hand, break the lesson time down into ten minute module blocks.

For young students or absolute beginners, start with the alphabet and numbers.

Lesson 1 for example could be to learn the alphabet letters to "g" or whatever you feel is within the students ability. For very young students consider bringing a lap top computer and printer to the class and as part of the lesson find, and print out the Flash Cards you intend to use. Likewise with numbers. Make or print out numbers up to 5, then 6-10 then 11-20 and so on.

Another 10 minute component could be to print out some writing practice sheets so students can start learning how to write letters and numbers. Compliment the lesson with Flashcards with words starting with the letters you are teaching. For example Apple, Airplane, Air Conditioner, Ape, etc etc.

To round out the lessons you could introduce a simple song, even make one up yourself if you are musical enough. A game related to the topic at hand is also a good option towards the end of the lesson. There are a variety of board games on the market relate to English learning or again you could design one yourself. Simple memorizing or guessing games using playing cards can be very entertaining to students if approached correctly and for the right duration.

Use Flash Cards to gradually build your students vocabulary.

If you have a group of students, divide them into teams and play a "who knows" game. Quickly display a Flash Card (either number, letter or photo). The student who answers correctly earns a point for their team. An incorrect answer loses a point for the team.

These types of games are ideal for larger groups as you can also build English repetition around the set up of the game and how you divide the students.

For example:

Surrounding dialogue: "Ok we're going to play a Do You Know Game. Put all the tables to the side of the room. Put all the chairs in three lines from the front of the room to the back of the room. Make three lines. The first line is all students who were born in either January, February, March and April. The middle line is all students who were born in either. May, June, July and August. The third line is all students who were born in WHAT MONTHS?

That's right. September, October, November and December. Okay, form the lines and let's start. Who's going to go first?"

In summary:

Present material in ten minute "bite size" blocks.

Have all materials for the class prepared in advance and in order of use during the lesson. Have additional material ready in case you need it. In some instances you might get through material faster than anticipated. Some of the material may be of very little interest to the student and even spending ten minutes on it is far too long. In another instance you may overestimate your students ability and the material being studied may be far to difficult for the student to understand.

In all lessons it's important to have extra materials and resources to help you when unexpected dilemmas happen/occur.

Have fun with your students and they'll enjoy learning from you.

Mako Fisher
Current and past English teacher in Japan