Strategies for Teaching Elementary ESL Students

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) students can be extremely challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. This lesson outlines strategies teachers can apply to elementary ESL learners.

An Elementary Approach

One of the greatest advantages of teaching elementary ESL students is the curiosity of these young learners. They are typically open to new ideas and tend not to question the widely accepted English grammar rules the way older students justifiably do. Another advantage of teaching young ESL students is that their youth makes it easier for them to learn a second language than mature learners. One of the quirks of second language acquisition is that young minds seem better able to absorb and retain linguistic information.

Remember that your elementary ESL learners are at the beginning of their language journey and need plenty of support. If possible, set aside time each week or month to meet with students individually. Individual attention enables students to ask questions or raise concerns they may be too hesitant or embarrassed to raise in front of peers. During these personal meetings, you can update students on their progress, offer encouraging feedback and make suggestions for improvement. Additionally, individual attention from a teacher can inspire confidence in students that they matter and are viewed as individuals rather than simply members of a larger group.

Classroom Work

When preparing a lesson plan for ESL student, be sure to select level-appropriate content for classroom use. Material that is either too easy or too difficult can cause your students to become bored or discouraged. Once you've identified level-appropriate content, consider these guidelines for learning strategies.

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