Teaching a subject in English can be difficult. What happens when you try to teach a student a whole new language? The idea can seem near impossible, right? Well, it would be if “impossible” was in our vocabulary. It’s important to understand that teaching a new language is achievable, but it doesn’t come without hard work and dedication. We have five tips for educators who are helping someone learn a foreign language.
Practice makes progress
No one can become fluent in a foreign language after only one day. Nonetheless, it’s attainable to progress in a new language by being exposed to it as much as possible. By using the language as you teach, it helps students remember what they’re learning outside of the time you have with them. Instead of the student asking “can we take a break?” have the student ask in the language they are learning. By having them do this repeatedly, it ensures the phrase will be etched into the student’s mind. When you bring common phrases into the lesson, it helps the student remember and retain the phrase. This also equips students to be prepared in case they ever visit the country they are learning for which they are learning the language.
It’s time to think outside the box. What would encourage students to connect the foreign language to English? Making sure students piece together what they don’t know and translating it into what they do know will make the process much easier. Use resources such as matching games, crossword puzzles, and word hunts that help students compare words in the English language to the foreign language. Whether it be creating other hands-on activities, watching online media, or participating in role-playing; students will be able to connect the language they don’t know to the language that they do.
Keeping up with the culture
Language and culture go hand-in-hand; with one comes the other. Introducing the culture of the language you’re teaching can make the lesson much more interesting and meaningful for the student. In addition to hands-on activities, diving into a new culture can help students connect to what they’re learning and have a better understanding of the language. Learning about traditional food, clothing and history can be enlightening for students who are new to a language.
Even if the student isn’t explicitly a visual learner, pictures and drawings will help them relate the image to the word, sentence, or phrase they’re learning. Visuals are especially helpful for nouns and verbs that can be hard to memorize on their own. You can use resources such as picture books, online images or even your own sketches. There are also many activities (such as matching games and Pictionary) that can be utilized in the classroom or through the phone.
Entertain and engage
The traditional style of textbook learning is slowly fading away. High schoolers would much rather engage with other people and participate in activities rather than read a lesson out of a book. Communication is the key to entertaining teenagers, so plan activities that encourage students to speak to you in the language they are learning. Encourage your students to speak in the language as much as they can during lessons, even if it’s only simple sentences and phrases.
Teaching a foreign language to a beginner is a challenge. Though there can be frustrations and roadblocks, there are many things you can do to ease the difficulty. It doesn’t have to be a drag. We’re here to help make teaching fun for you, so you can make learning fun for students!