Teaching English As A Second Language

When teaching English as a second language or ESL it can be hard to communicate. Here are some techniques for creating a dialog between the student and teacher in regards to writing essays for class.

Most Americans haven't been taught grammar since elementary school, and this lack of non-intuitive knowledge of our native language can make the prospect of teaching English as a Second Language or ESL intimidating. Keep in mind that ESL writers need more help in everything: planning, brainstorming, outlining, structure, fluency, and accuracy. Some ESL students might find it hard to start the composing process, and therefore their writing can turn out to be difficult and restrained which can make the editing process even more challenging. However, equipped with basic tutoring techniques, and a little confidence, any teacher (or tutor) will be able to adeptly and efficiently assist ESL students.

Teachers, or tutors, should familiarize themselves with the assignment at hand before attempting to instruct students, as the directions can build a primary foundation of understanding for the essay. It is recommended that teachers encourage students to choose topics that are relatively narrow in scope in order to streamline the ESL student's research process. Rather than allowing a Baltimore student to write an essay on global warming, the teacher should persuade him to choose to write about pollution in the Chesapeake Bay instead. Topics with a concrete focus are much easier to research than vague generalized topics. Although large environmental issues are crucial and raising awareness and interest is vitally important, students should not feel as though they have to solve such large problems in three-to-five pages, such expectations are simply unrealistic. Local problems or more specific issues when dealing with a larger environmental topic are more workable subjects for a paper.

Furthermore, most students find it difficult to begin research at all""even if teachers designate class time for the activity. Students simply don't know where to start, other than Google, and conducting research from a non-academic search engine can lead to disastrous results. A student could end up quoting a personal online journal instead of a reliable news source. If a student has not begun researching his topic, then it is imperative for teachers to help the students become familiar with the wide array of research-oriented websites. Students will be able to utilize such websites for the remainder of the semester, and for the remainder of their academic careers.



Providing examples for ESL students can be a great instructing tool. It is most effective to demonstrate how to write essays by giving students good examples of professional, published essays that model the type of writing that is assigned. Although, some teachers find it valuable to read and correct examples of poorly written essays with ESL students. Instructors have found that showing students how to conduct a major revision has helped them learn more inclusively than simply reading and discussing an already perfect essay.

Finally, it is always best for students and teachers to engage in a dialog about the assignment. A teacher can ask the student leading questions about her essay, such as "What is your favorite part about your essay and why?" "Is there an area of the paper with which you are uncomfortable?" "What are your plans for revision?" In this way, an ESL student can discuss her essay and verbalize what she thinks she needs to revise without being intimidated, while the teacher can simultaneously guide the student to ideas for revision. It is best for teachers to avoid listing problems they assess in a paper, rather the problems should be brought up as up as neutral questions. This allows ESL students to recognize problems in their writing for the assignment at hand, but will equip them the skills for identifying problems in the future as well.

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