During my time at ADC College I have taught many different lessons to students of varied ability. There are various techniques that teachers use in the classroom to teach English and all are effective in their own way.
A technique which I always find works well with students is to introduce them to language chunks. This works particularly well when teaching written business communication. The students are given examples of language used for business communication in the form of letters and emails, and then given a series of tasks to consolidate the language. One of these tasks is to get the students to do a gap fill exercise for an email which, once corrected, the students are encouraged to memorise and rewrite.
It’s my experience that each time this activity is used the students write the language chunks, as opposed to the rest of the email/letter almost verbatim. Learning English in chunks is beneficial for students as it gives them language that is more natural and more easily understood, as well as alternative and richer ways of expressing themselves. It’s also easier for our brains to remember and use chunks or blocks of language rather than single words.
Students often marvel at how easy it is for them to remember chunks and their meanings, rather than trying to recall each word.
When the students rewrite the target language they sometimes have problems with prepositions, so as a follow-up task, the students do a reading race where they complete sentences with a partner, the missing words comprising mostly of prepositions. The students work in teams and compete against each other by taking the sentence to the teacher who sends them away again to correct it, until eventually everything in the sentence is correct. This activity is used as a way of checking the students’ understanding and use of prepositions, which in turn helps them to become more independent when recreating the language. I find that learners even at advanced levels can struggle with correct prepositional usage, so any opportunity to have students practise this part of grammar can be hugely beneficial for improving their language.
I have also found that while the students are learning I, as a teacher, am constantly learning from them ways to become a more efficient and effective tutor by listening to and gaining new understanding about what works best for them.
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