Effective Strategies for Teaching Second Language Learners

It is important to have varied ways to help students memorize the vocabulary and then use the words correctly.

Themes

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Teaching second language learners can be challenging. There is nothing easy about simplifying words for students who are learning a language. The basic forms of words have to be explained to them in order for them to comprehend deeply, and pronunciation of each word form is also essential. It is important to have varied ways to help students memorize the vocabulary and then use the words correctly. Some activity types I have found useful are:

  • Silent Minute. Students read silently and think about the passage given to them. Then they identify the main idea of that passage.
  • Video clips. Students watch a video clip, look for the theme of the specific topic, and give a summary of it.
  • Expressive approach. Students are divided into groups and given activities to work on together.
  • Think aloud. Students share ideas inspired by what they have read in a passage.

For specific activities, I try to select activities that allow students to participate, have fun, and learn, all at the same time. Some activities that work well include flipped activities, pair work, sharing with a neighbor, role play, mix and match, grid activities, and pictures representing words, as well as impromptu oral presentation. These cooperative learning activities not only encourage better understanding of vocabulary, but also allow students to mingle with each other and get to know each other well. The social aspect makes the class more enjoyable for many students, so these activities can help them boost their learning and enthusiasm.

As second language teachers, we have to adapt and adjust to the learning and teaching environment. As you teach, remember the wise words of Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

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Carol Linda Kingston served as an instructor at the English Center of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines (AIIAS) for five years. She is currently a PhD student in Educational Administration with TESOL as the emphasis and served as the Asst. Dean of the Women’s Hostel and English teacher for elementary through junior college level at Spicer for ten years.

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