How to become a good English teacher to non-native speakers of English


                                                                                                            Joseph Jin Jung


There are many ways to teach English, but it is cumbersome to find a perfect way to teach.  Maybe it is impossible to find the perfect and easy way to teach.  However, as we would consider(?) ourselves as decent educators, we just have to find effective ways to teach English well.  It will be ludicrous to say that native speakers of English are the best English teachers.  Just because one can speak English well does not mean that he/she is an excellent English teacher.     


To become a good English teacher, one must educate oneself to become one. In fact, a person has to have a desire to become a good teacher.  Of course you can not deny that there are some gifted people who may not need any education or enthusiasm to become a good teacher.  More power to those God gifted people.  Well, I am sorry that I am not one of those people.  I'll be afraid to use the word "gifted people".  But, I can say with my heart that I have a sincere desire of wanting to become a good English teacher and I trained myself to become a good English teacher.


Students can see if you are a good teacher.  They will have a respect for you.

It took me over five years to grasp what is needed to become a good English teacher.  What I have learned may not be the best way to teach and may not bring a huge interest to many, but it sure worked for me and many students whom I had a pleasure of teaching.


Now, I'd like to share my teaching methods and strategies with you.  The methods and strategies that I'm about to introduce maybe very basic and simple.  It may bore you to death, but please bear with me.


Suppose if I were to teach English to a 20 year old native Korean, what advise should I give him?  Let's first examine a 20 year old native English Speaker and look into the fact of how he can speak English well.  It is obvious that the native English speaker had been exposed to, spoken to and listened English for 20 years.  It does not take a miracle for any person to speak English well if he/she has spoken to and in English for 20 years.  Can you imagine how many times he said 'Good morning' or 'how are you' in 20 years.  Probably many, many, many times.  So, if a 20 year old non-native speaker of English wants to speak English well, all he has to do is do the same thing that the native speaker of English did for 20 years.  Did it bore you?


The moral of the story is that in order to learn another language




Learning Style


Types of learners (learning styles)

  There are basically three types of learners.

    1. Visual

    2. Auditory

    3. Kinesthetic, tactile


There are other facilitators that assist learning such as:


   1. Activity

   2. Investigation

   3. Experimentation and discovery

   4. Imagination

   5. Asking questions and searching for answers

   6. Using all of senses when possible

   7. Repetition and drill

   8. Sorting and combining objects

   9. Learning step-by-step and in sequence

  10. Modeling


To help students to learn, you need to be aware of these classroom learning facilitators.


   1. Class structure - Learning is best in a structured environment.

      It lessens student anxiety.


   2. Sequence - Learning takes place if in sequence.  You cannot learn to write a paragraph until you've learned how to write a sentence. Ask yourself if you've taught all the parts to the new learning.


   3. Pacing - Ask yourself three questions: a) How long (time) should be spent on the new or old learning. b) How often should they practice the new learning.  Students will forget if practice sessions are too far apart.  If they studied it in October, does this mean they will remember it in May?  c) How much of the new learning do they study at a time. If they have 20 spelling words to learn, you might consider having them study five at a time.


    4. Closure - In humans there is a powerful drive towards closure.  You shouldn't leave too many things open.  Incomplete work and work never getting done lessens self-esteem.  You need a beginning and an end.


    5. Opportunity to gain competence - Students should learn and practice a new learning until they are competent with the new learning.


    6. Concrete - abstract - Many learnings need to be made concrete for better understanding.  The term furniture is abstract.  To make concrete you must father chairs, tables, etc.


    7. Self-concept - Self-concept is very important to learning.  Students need to feel         self-worth.  Build success into your program.  What we are successful at we like to do.  What we are not successful at we don't like to do.  If we think we can't do it, we usually don't.  Assist students in feeling good about themselves.


    8. Guidance - Guide a student to correct answers.  The student should hold the pencil and be doing the work, not the instructor.  If you always tell the student how to spell dog, he doesn't need to learn it for himself.  Provide ways of assisting them to find the answers.


    9. Practice - Practice small parts.  Make them meaningful and add more only after those have been learned.  Make practice periods short enough to meet student's attention span requirements.  Do a great deal of practice at the beginning.  Once the material is learned then review practice to retain material.   

   10. Motivation - Whenever a student finds his work too difficult or too easy or boring, he becomes passive.  Once the material is learned then review practice to retain material.


   11. Knowledge of results - Students are move sensitive to doing their work if they

       get immediate feedback of test and work results.  The more immediate the feedback, the easier it is for the students to improve his/her performance or correct errors.


   12. Length of study - It is better for students to study with sessions spaced with rest periods.


   13. Retention - Maintaining what has been learned.

        Retention factors:

         a. Meaning - Give learning as much meaning as possible.

         b. Original learning - Make sure the learning has taken place.

             Test for knowledge.

         c. Make learning pleasant, stimulating, and exciting.

             We remember pleasant things.


What is Motivation?


Motivation is helping students find the desire or need to learn a task.  It engages his interest, it does not just insist that the student try harder.


Suggestions to help you motivate students:


1. Tone of voice - The intonation of your voice can help.  Small amounts of pleasant or unpleasant tone will increase motivation. Too much tone, or toneless monotone help decrease motivation.


2. Tension - Tension in small doses will help motivate a student.  Too much tension may cause the student to think only of the tension and how to deal with it.  Be careful using tension and treat each student individually.


3. Interest - The more interest that is caused the more likely the student will learn.  Let students invent and create.  Use their interests.


4. Success - If a task is too difficult or a student is unsuccessful, it hinders motivation.   Make sure a task has the correct amount of difficulty.

5. Feedback - Feedback needs to be immediate (if possible) and the student needs to know the results of his efforts.


6. Reward - When a task is rewarding itself, motivation is intrinsic or from within the     student.



Motivation from a student's point of view


Suggestions from a student's view

 1. The instructor gives me a chance to answer as many questions as she does the other students.

 2. The instructor tells me when I'm right and corrects me when I'm wrong.

 3. The instructor spends time sitting or standing near me.

 4. The instructor gives me individual help when I need it.

 5. The instructor gives me praise when I've earned it.

 6. The instructor is courteous with me.

 7. The instructor waits long enough for me to think and then answer the question.

 8. The instructor listens to me when I talk to her.

 9. The instructor gives me clues and tries to help me get the right answer but, she doesn't do the problem for me.

10. The instructor tells me what I've done correctly when she praises me.

11. The instructor expects me to do well.  She/he gives me as many jobs as the other students have.

12. The instructor ignores or discourages poor behavior and corrects me without embarrassing me.

13. The instructor asks me questions that make me think things out.

14. The instructor likes and encourages my ideas and helps me add on to them.



Working with bilingual students.


1. Always speak in a conversational voice at a normal speed.

2. Don't exaggerate intonation patterns.

3. Students need to practice producing sentences in English, therefore the instructor

   shouldn't talk too much.

4. Use gesture, movements, facial expressions, objects, pictures, ect., to help interpret the     situation.

5. When talking to the students, stay reasonably within the vocabulary and sentence patterns they have learned.

6. Be sure all pupils have a chance to participate; don't allow the aggressive ones to monopolize class time.

7. Don't be tightly bound by the answers in the text.  If a student gives a correct, plausible answer, accept it.

8. If you are instructing English, speak English.  If you speak the student's native language, use it as little as possible.

9. Learning a language is difficult

   a. need continual repetition

   b. it takes time

   c. make it meaningful

   d. make it useful

   e. give them time to answer

   f. make it a good experience

10. Don't worry that they don't understand you.  They pick up a great deal.  Give them opportunity to converse back with you with no threats.  Use anything in their  environment to help them to talk.  The more you get them talking the faster they  will learn.

11. If a sound is not in their language, they will have difficulty hearing it in English.   Practice the sounds that are difficult for them.

12. Before starting a lesson, have a warm-up lesson.  Loosen up their speaking mechanism and remember drill and repetitive learning.

13. Give students time to answer.  They hear it in English, translate it to native language, organize thoughts into native language, think up a response in the native language, and then translate to English.

14. Learn about your students' cultural backgrounds. This will help you understand their needs, their responses, and how to respond to them.


Teaching English as a Second Language

1. Students need to: hear it, say it, read it, write it.

2. We normally do the least with hearing it.  We mishear a great deal, even if we speak English.  (i.e. milk of amnesia, social plunders, I found it excellerating, Pullet, Surprise).

3. Do whatever it is you want them to do (model).

4. Commands are a good way to begin. "Mrs. Forgey puts on the green sweater"; "Mrs. Forgey takes off the green sweater".  Now have the students do it.  Do not ask anyone to speak unless ready to do so. Students can act out until they're ready to speak.

5. Work on prepositions.  They are one of the hardest things to learn.  Act them out  while you are saying them.  do them several times.  Then have the students act them out while you say them. Then have the students say them as you act them out and say them and so on.  It is good to do a ten-minute exercise each day.

6. Students have problems in hearing vowel sounds.  We have five vowels that have approximately eleven sounds.  Give them many experiences in hearing vowel sounds.

7. Bring as many real things to class as possible (or use pictures).

8. Students need rhyming activities.

9. Before students should learn to read and write they need a good oral base.

10. Even as students become more advanced, if it's new, model it outloud.

11. When helping students read a sentence you might try starting with the end of the sentence.  This usually helps keep intonation patterns correct plus gives them many times to say it.  Start with the ending word then add next word, etc.

12. Writing comes last.  Students can comprehend written words and sentences before

    they can write their own.

13. In writing start with printing (that is what they read) then cursive writing. Many students do not know where and how to join letters.

14. Give exercises in writing where you leave out one word for them to fill in and then progress to leaving out every seventh word in a paragraph.

15. Have students (mo matter what age) dictate a paragraph to you.  Assist them in more correct ways to say it.

16. Give them experiences (as they become more advanced) in writing paragraphs with set vocabulary words. Tell them when (today, yesterday, etc.) and singular or plural.

17. Strive for at least an 80 percent accuracy before going on to the next step.

18. Keep a record of what you have covered and how they have done.  File cards for this purpose.

19. Give useful pronunciation guidance; isolate the syllable where the error occurs, pronounce it correctly, and then model the entire sentence for the student to repeat.

20. Drill each sentence pattern (listening and orally) until students can automatically    

    (without thinking) use it.

Strategies for better classroom discipline

1. Set your standards early.

2. Learn students' names immediately.

3. Be consistent.

4. Follow through.

5. Be fair - but ever firm.

6. Go over class rules and reasons for them.

7. Stress positive approaches.

8. If a problem continues to occur, talk with the student alone.  Share your concerns.  

  Ask the student how he feels and talk together about possible solution.

9. Don't talk at, talk with him.  Let students know you like them.

10. Trust and respect students as unique individuals.

11. Please do not hold grudges.  Treat each day as a new start.

12. When a student misbehaves, there is a reason.  Try, if possible, to find the cause.

13. When disciplining, let the student know you are disappointed with his behavior, not with him as a person.

14. Watch your temper - You might say something you might regret.

15. Treat students with respect.  Remember that you are an instructor and they are learning from you.

16. Look directly at the students to whom you are speaking.


17. Speak in a moderate or low voice. Let your voice be pleasant and controlled, not angry and harsh.

18. Do not tolerate "begging" or "teasing" for special privileges.

19. Smile often, but genuinely - you won't get away with syrupy, sweet, habit smiles.

20. Watch your health. It is not fair to snap at students and punish them when you are the one who needs attention.

21. Keep yourself neat and attractive.  The students have to look at you for an hour or two, so make it as pleasant for them as possible.  Use deodorant and ladies need a light perfume, and dress in as good tasted and as attractively as you know how.  

22. Watch yourself for mannerism.  Frowning, squinting, pacing the floor, twitching your nose, using a slang expression repeatedly, may incite the students to pay attention to the mannerism, rather than to the classwork.

23. Develop a sense of humor, and laugh with, not at, the students.

24. Stop unwanted noise as soon as it starts.  Don't make the mistake of thinking the students will get quiet later.

25. If the entire group seems "to squirm", stop and play a simple action game; or have a stretching, jumping or bending exercise for a few minutes.

26. Give every students an equal chance.  Some instructors favor the smart ones.  The other students notice these things.

27. Don't punish the group for the actions of a few.