Improving Speaking Skills in the ESL Classroom

Students that have english as a second language are often at a clear disadvantage in a regular classroom. They may have difficulty following classroom instruction and find the local slang, dialect or lingo difficult to translate and understand.

Teaching by Flickr CC Paul Sobczak

There are several methods that teachers can utilize to promote language interaction on a regular basis. One of the most effective methods is to get peers involved in aiding ESL students with language exercises. Activities such as role playing and partner reading will allow them the opportunity to interact with others in a small group or on a one-to-one basis.

As an instructor, attempt to make eye contact with ESL students often. Use clear hand gestures and easy-to-read facial expressions several times throughout the lesson. Make efforts to be encouraging and supportive by smiling and nodding often when they speak or read aloud. Avoid negative body language such as shaking your head, frowning or sighing, and looking away from the student. Other students will observe and mimic your actions and become more helpful to and supportive of the student as well.

Summarize the lesson materials often throughout the classroom period. This will help ensure that the student is absorbing the information effectively. Ask the student questions about the materials throughout the time allotted. Not only will your ESL students learn and absorb more but so will his classmates.

ESL Class by Flickr CC Renato Ganoza

Use props and technology as much as possible to support and clarify classroom instruction. For example, when discussing a particular country, use maps to identify the geographical area and slide shows to show the customs and culture of the area. Ask questions of all the students so conversation is generated.

Lastly, allow the ESL student extra time to speak and converse throughout the class period. Over time, he will gain understanding and confidence in his new-found language skills.

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