Choosing an ESL class can set the tone for how well you learn the language. Of course, studying and putting in effort is equally important. Learning a new language requires practice, listening, and reading. Because learning a new language requires various sets of skills, it’s good to choose a class that takes auditory, visual and spatial study skills. Many programs focus solely on memorization and grammar and although these are fundamental, they aren’t the only methods that can be used in ESL courses.
A good ESL class will list its goals for students, but won’t promise that you’ll be a fluent speaker off the bat. The right program will let you know if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. Some people are great at learning languages, but goals should expect students learn at a steady pace that allows them to put new lessons into real-world practice.
There is a time and place for textbooks, quizzes, and difficult tests. Classes should also incorporate authentic experiences such as listening to music, discussing current events in English-speaking countries, and learning the appropriate amount of informal phrases. Some advanced classes even teach students some basic slang words to better understand pop culture. In order to assist with this, a teacher or program may also allow for peer groups, have guest speakers, and encourage students to watch films in English. It’s okay if the teacher seems to be focusing on Taylor Swift, for example, as long as students learn how to effectively communicate.
Thinking in English
Translation from a student’s native language into English is never encouraged. Courses and ESL professors should be encouraging their students to think in English as much as possible. In a beginner class, a teacher can encourage students to read children’s books or even watch children’s shows. Even in an adult class this would be considered appropriate because it shows the teacher is looking for materials suited to the class’s learning level. Instead of constantly talking, a teacher or ESL program might encourage the class to play games, makes crafts, or narrate activities so that students are encouraged to learn English more naturally.
Use of technology
Technology is everywhere and ESL courses can incorporate it into the classroom in a constructive manner. A course can use videos, specific websites, and even apps in order to help you achieve your goals. These tools can also help shyer students that are more reluctant to speak up in class.
Investigate logistical matters
Choosing to study in an English-speaking country is always the best option. It will allow you to fully immerse yourself in that country’s culture, give you many opportunities to practice the language, and be a memorable experience. If you choose to do this then you’ll need to consider:
After deciding where you will study, you can and should ask questions about the specific program you’ve chosen and perhaps have a back-up plan. Ask about the current syllabus or to see past syllabi. Many schools also allow you to contact past students, and this will give you a better view as to what you can expect. Ask about where students come from. A diverse pool of classmates will force you all to speak more English and get out of your comfort zone.
There is no one formula to learn English as a Second Language, but examining these things will help you make the best choice about a program. Have fun, and good luck!