Sometimes teaching ESL can feel overwhelming. We feel responsible for a group of students who have travelled half way across the world for a good education, and we have the responsibility of being their teacher. The last thing we want to do is disappoint, either them or ourselves. With all this pressure for success, ESL teachers may feel frantic and frustrated when the teaching just does not happen the way they imagine.
When you are having one of those moments when you just do not have the answers, turn to one of these resources for what you just cannot put your finger on.
Top Ten Resources You Might Not Even Know You Have
These days, the internet is probably the first place a person turns when looking for information. With that in mind, there are many great internet resources for ESL teachers who are looking for answers to grammatical hurdles or who are in need of some quick lesson plans. If you are looking for some direction in your cyber-search, start with Top 10 Websites for the ESL Teacher for some great resources for ESL teachers.
Just because you are a technologically savvy teacher with one website after another at your fingertips, that does not mean that a good old book does not have some value once in a while. Take a trip to your local library and see what your tax dollars can do for you. The library is an especially great resource if you are teaching a thematic unit. You can find books, movies and other resources with no fee attached, and most librarians are happy to help you compile resources about a topic you will be teaching.
Speaking of books, there is a wealth of information in that old Webster’s dictionary. You will find information there on pronunciation, related word forms, word origins and even antonyms. The next time you are compiling your list of vocabulary, take a peek between those thin pages to see what information you may not have known about your native language.
A Native Speaker’s Instinct
Though that heavy book will likely give you some new information, as a native speaker you already possess a vast amount of knowledge about the English language. Even if you are new to teaching, the instinct that comes with one’s native language is invaluable. Trust that instinct when it tells you something is not quite right with how your students may be using English, and then take the time to research the grammar to explain the feeling.
Other Native Speakers
While you are at it, why not consult another native speaker for his or her opinion. Though our own instincts are usually reliable when it comes to grammar and language use, if you have been teaching ESL a long time you may have become used to some common misuses of the language. Ask your spouse, roommate or friend if a particular language structure “sounds right” the next time you are unsure yourself.
Other teachers are also a very valuable resource when it comes to teaching ESL. Your fellow teachers are articulating some of the best explanations of grammar right now, so the next time you have a question or a problem, ask the person in the classroom next door. He or she may be able to explain something you have not been able to put into words.
If your co-teachers cannot lend a hand in the great English mystery, why not ask some of your students? This is not to say that your ESL student should explain English concepts to another student in their native language. Even when the explanation is completely in English, your student, with understanding of the native language of another student, may be able to help. He is often able to explain a language concept in such a way that it makes more sense to another non-native speaker. If your overall goal is to get your students speaking English, they will be doing just that when they offer explanations of English in English to fellow students.
Another underrated resource is the daily newspaper. These short articles in clear language are easier for your ESL students to understand than other realia. In addition, there are non-pros writings in the paper that are valuable for your class including weather maps, movie schedules and comics.
Board games and card games are other resources you can turn to for your ESL needs. There are many games that are primarily language based, and these can be used as is or tweaked to suit your teaching needs. Games will not only challenge your students’ language use and teach them new vocabulary, they will bring an element of fun to the classroom. That levity can be just what you need when your class is getting stressed over the difference between the past progressive and the past perfect.
Worth listing on its own, YouTube offers an unlimited collection of videos suitable for use in the ESL classroom. With realistic language presented by native speakers from all over the world, you can find clips on YouTube for any content area. Not only that, the non-teacheresque speaking style and regional accents are valuable for your students to learn.
Teaching ESL is often a difficult and frustrating task, but you do not have to go at it alone. By using these and other resources, you can become a better teacher each day you step through that classroom door.
Not only that, you can feel better about what you teach and how you teach it knowing that you have given your very best to your students!