Best practices in Teaching English

There has been a lot of commotion regarding the best practices in teaching English. Before you sit to reflect on ‘What are best practices in teaching English?’ think for yourself how you yourself would like to learn English (or for that matter any other language of the world)!

You certainly would not like to be bound by the rules of grammar and phonetics, rather prefer to learn it, (best usage here will be ‘imbibe the language’) naturally.

As a teacher, teaching English to non-English speakers, the best answer to the question ‘What are best practices in teaching English?’ for you will be creating an environment conducive to fostering the students’ communicating skills. And this because, teaching English as a second language is not limited to helping your students acquire reading and writing skills, but is also about helping them communicate (listening and speaking) with others.

Coming as a rejoinder of this answer to this question is the condition that as a teacher you should encourage your students to engage in conversation. Encouraging them to the extent of not correcting a student’s speech for grammatical or accentual errors (a standard practice usually adopted for the initial stage of all English teaching curriculums). A teacher’s disapproval, at this stage, is usually enough to demoralize a student, to harm his/her self-esteem, hampering the learner’s improvement with the language.

Remember, once your student is able to overcome the initial shyness, it will not be all that difficult to aid his development. As an instructor, you will have enough time at your disposal to sharpen his/her speaking and writing skills, helping him/her with grammar, pronunciation and expressions.

So, get your students to communicate – with you and even with their fellow students on different issues through different class activities like debates and dramatic plays, internet chatting sessions and so on and so forth.

A little more of introspection will give you the second clue to the issue as to what are the best practices of teaching English, and the second clue for you is listening. And indeed, your students do benefit from listening exercises!

Cassette tapes, listening-oriented videos and CDs, happen to be good listening practices for your students. Initially, your students might find these listening practices (with no accompanying printed text) a little problematic and might not respond well. With a little bit of help from you, however, they are sure to pick up proper accents, grammar, vocabulary even mastering contextual use of words and phrases.

Whatever be the practice you adopt for teaching – a listening exercise or a communicating exercise – you will need to properly plan your course if you are really expecting good results from the teaching sessions. Start with evaluating your students’ learning aptitude and exposure to English.

Once you have a clear understanding of what you can expect from your students and what really do they expect from the teaching sessions, you can mutually decide on the specific lesson plans, methods, materials and practices for teaching. Setting goals for your teaching plans will also help your cause.

In a concluding vein, we can say that planning your course is the most vital issue in deciding what are best practices in teaching English. Remember, no teaching practices can benefit your pupil if they are not familiar or comfortable with the thing being taught to them.

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