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-   -   5 Steps to an English Only Classroom (http://www.eslhq.com/forums/esl-articles/5-steps-english-only-classroom-256/)

mesmark Dec 21st, 2009 07:35 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
Maybe so, but I actually think it's more of an issue with intermediate level teachers.

At beginner levels in a non-native environment, like Korea, students don't have much exposure to English to acquire working knowledge of grammar use. So, many teachers explain language using L1. However, there comes a point when students could benefit from learning English in English. It's at that point that teachers who have become comfortable with using L1 (even native English speakers) might rely on it rather than English only.

Where are you teaching, Steve?

revel Dec 21st, 2009 10:58 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
Hey all!

Here in Spain, the majority of the teachers in the regular school system are non-native teachers. They may have more or less control over the spoken language, but the problem is that they teach their classes exclusively in English, which leads to the problem that I face as a "review" teacher.

Students need clear explanations of grammar and vocabulary. If these explanations are given in a language that they do not understand, they never come to grips with the basics and the problems accumulate through their learning of the language.

Though, as I mention in my earlier comments, English-Only in certain activities is the best way to go about those activities, the idea that the kids will learn somehow through osmosis just because the teacher only speaks English is (IMHO) just silly and a waste of time and the cause for my having had to explain these concepts in Spanish to kids who are failing their English classes.

These non-native teachers are working under the false assumption that using English only in the classroom, not using L1 to explain and clarify, is the best way to go about things. The incredible failure rate is proof that such is not true. I am a native speaker and am very very against the "English Only" philosophy except in cases where students are able to defend themselves in English and need conversational practice.

peace,
revel.

flpsde76 Apr 10th, 2011 11:13 pm

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
It is easy to say and write to enforce your "English only rule" but the class becomes a battlefield rather than an educational setting. Think of a time when you had to learn by force. Not because you wanted to but because you had to. Did you really retain that information or just did what you needed to in order to get pass that time period or that day? Now think of a time when you learned something because it was interesting and you wanted to learn it. I bet you still remember it up to now. The key is not in ruling the class with an iron fist, but rather making the class with an atmosphere where the student's interests are peaked, and at the same time having ground rules that are realistic and achievable. Telling your class to speak "English only" when the class is not equipped to do so only sets them up for failure and frustration on both sides. Once they break the rule, confidence goes down in their learning abilities, and you've loss that student. Of course, you'll have success with students who are average to above average in English, but that is not the case with most ESL students, specially not in Korea. But as educators, our duty is to help every single student and not just the advance few. It is easier to rule and force the class into submission with iron fisted rules like "English only" than to come up and actually think of ways that might improve learning for everyone. It's not that difficult, it just requires a little bit of research on the educators part and all the information in this day in age is on the web. So definitely have ground rules, but make them rules that students can achieve and research methods of teaching that are effective, that will peak students interest, that will make learning fun, and that will create an atmosphere that is beneficial for everyone.

abarboza Sep 24th, 2011 11:21 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
These ideas are very insightful but I think they only work on theory. I don't see myself applying these tips in my classes here in Colombia. Groups are 45+ students in some rural areas where they had never had an English class before.

Thanks anyway :)

arielhud Dec 9th, 2011 08:14 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
Quote:

Quote Stevepaint (Post 25446)
Hi
I read the article and posts (briefly, thereis a lot of info here) but I get the feeling that that it is the non native English speakers who are anti the English only concept. Is my assumption correct?
Regards
Steve

Not at all. :) I am a native English speaker and I believe a mix between "English Only" and some L1 support is fruitful for students. Building a rapport with your students is about as important as the actual teaching process, in my opinion.... once they trust you, it is much easier to implement such things as "English Only" on certain days. Also, English Only is entirely unhelpful for classes that only meet between 50 minutes and 2 hours a week. The children, especially, don't get enough practice outside of class to justify it, especially at lower levels.

dijemaru May 16th, 2012 08:45 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
now I am teaching at private school in Turkey.
being esl teacher is not easy indeed, moreover when you haven't mastered it's mother language at all.
can u give me a suggestion of how handle children (10-12 years old) to stop taking in their mother language??

tianfengyi Nov 14th, 2012 10:32 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
there's an esl strategy that works well for me and the kids if they really aren't getting it. "sandwiching"--say the word or phrase in english then native language then english again.
if you don't know the native language and you have a co-teacher or TA, have them do the sandwiching too.

a TA that translates everything without giving the students a chance to process is doing a great disservice to the kids and to you as the teacher. In my experience, the local staff don't expect the kids to know anything and therefore give them all the answers are the worst! I've sent many of them out of my classroom so the kids could learn and grow because they "had" to do it. It's amazing how the brain can fill in the gaps when it has to be understood.

also, keep the sentences SIMPLE and routine. "bathroom, please." works well for 3-5 yr olds. "may I go peepee?" can be the next step. I never let a student leave my classroom without asking first. and I never let them leave more than 1 at a time. otherwise, bathroom time becomes play time with friends, etc.
"help, please.", "paper, please.", "water, please.", "pencil, please.", "here you are.", "thank you.", "you're welcome." are also very useful phrases.

many people (including teachers) don't expect a lot from kids and therefore, they don't get a lot. the more you baby them and translate, the more they will act like a baby and wait for the translation before responding.
kids are so flexible and absorb everything like a sponge. they can do it! i believe in an ESL classroom that uses english 99% of the time. this is also how students learn in the US. imagine a big city with lots of immigrants. all the kids must go to school together. the teacher doesn't know all those students' native languages. s/he uses TPR and simple language to communicate until the student understands. after awhile, the kids all know the routine and expectations and they all comply because of the need to communicate with the teacher and each other.

abarboza May 23rd, 2013 10:36 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
Quote:

Quote tianfengyi (Post 73800)
there's an esl strategy that works well for me and the kids if they really aren't getting it. "sandwiching"--say the word or phrase in english then native language then english again.
if you don't know the native language and you have a co-teacher or TA, have them do the sandwiching too.

a TA that translates everything without giving the students a chance to process is doing a great disservice to the kids and to you as the teacher. In my experience, the local staff don't expect the kids to know anything and therefore give them all the answers are the worst! I've sent many of them out of my classroom so the kids could learn and grow because they "had" to do it. It's amazing how the brain can fill in the gaps when it has to be understood.

also, keep the sentences SIMPLE and routine. "bathroom, please." works well for 3-5 yr olds. "may I go peepee?" can be the next step. I never let a student leave my classroom without asking first. and I never let them leave more than 1 at a time. otherwise, bathroom time becomes play time with friends, etc.
"help, please.", "paper, please.", "water, please.", "pencil, please.", "here you are.", "thank you.", "you're welcome." are also very useful phrases.

many people (including teachers) don't expect a lot from kids and therefore, they don't get a lot. the more you baby them and translate, the more they will act like a baby and wait for the translation before responding.
kids are so flexible and absorb everything like a sponge. they can do it! i believe in an ESL classroom that uses english 99% of the time. this is also how students learn in the US. imagine a big city with lots of immigrants. all the kids must go to school together. the teacher doesn't know all those students' native languages. s/he uses TPR and simple language to communicate until the student understands. after awhile, the kids all know the routine and expectations and they all comply because of the need to communicate with the teacher and each other.

The sandwiching technique! Very first time I see it named that way. But it can work wonders :)

abarboza Jun 22nd, 2013 09:23 pm

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
Old article, I know, but still very relevant. I agree with others who have stated that English only is not 100% necessary, at least at the beginning. Some students may get anxious if they only listen to English when they do not know the language so i guess that a little bit of their own language may be used if necessary.

sheeba k anil Nov 8th, 2013 12:40 am

Re: 5 Steps to an English Only Classroom
 
:rapture: I am teaching communicative english in a very reputed school in kerala with a strength of 3000+ students. I have tried several measures to make the campus an english friendly one. but I am desperately sad to say that the students still speak in their vernacular language. Please help me out to find a solution.


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