Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

First and foremost, knowledge of English is a vital necessity for people arriving in the United States. English is one of the most common languages in the world, with1.5 billion people speaking it and another billion people learning it. English is a universal language. A great number of people use it in international and professional communication. Without the knowledge of the English language, it is impossible to communicate with the different ethnic groups constituting the American citizens, live and work in migration, and become involved in the culture. In many cases, a durable stay abroad has a positive effect on language acquisition; however, it is not always the case. You can live in America all your life and never learn the language. Therefore, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of TESOL methods or Teaching English to speakers of other languages.

The abundance of teaching methods is striking: the grammar-translation method, the direct method, the audio-lingual method, the silent way, desuggestopedia, community language learning, total physical response, communicative language teaching, content-based instruction, and task-based language teaching (An Overview of the ESL Methods). And this is why it is important to identify the target learner and the teaching strategy that best suits the person. It is where the individualized approach is important. The decisive factor is the person itself, its mind, potential, and experience. Something useful to one person may be completely useless to another. Not a single method can guarantee success. One must keep in mind that the road to mastering any language starts with a strong motivation, along with the optimal training methods and approaches.

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One of the methods aimed at strengthening motivation is context-based instruction since language is learned “most effective when it is used as a medium to convey the content of interest to the students” (An Overview of the ESL Methods). This approach enhances the ability to adapt to the professional language environment. Students are introduced to a specific professional discourse, instead of learning separate structural parts of the language.

This method allows students to learn the language and the subject area while relying on their previous experience. The techniques used by the content-based instruction include dictoglos, graphic organizers, language experience approach, process writing, and dialogue journals (An Overview of the ESL Methods). One of the approaches within the content-based method which is mostly used for teaching children is sheltered instruction. Its purpose is to deliver grade-level subject matter content (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Health, PE, and Art) in a manner that is accessible to all learners (“Sheltered Instruction (SI)” par. 1).

Sheltered instruction is implemented by a subject teacher, or in some cases, a teacher with additional training in a specific subject area. To achieve the goals, the students’ level of language competence must correspond to the required experience in the field of subject disciplines. While the development of foreign language skills following the objectives of the course is the main feature of this model, it must be remembered that the main purpose of this kind of training is the mastery of the subject area, which makes it a perfect choice for schools.

Having reviewed the context-based instruction, we should note that no approach is good for everyone. Therefore, when selecting a method for teaching English to speakers of other languages, it is important to consider the aim of language learning, the person’s previous experience, the level of communication skills, and other characteristics.

Works Cited

An Overview of the ESL Methods. n.d.. [Powerpoint slides].

Sheltered Instruction (SI). Portland Public Schools. n.d. Web.

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