What do I mean when I say I teach English?

English Teaching

I teach English in Australia to adult students from other countries. I work in language schools in the city and I occasionally teach individual students in person or on video calls.

I have been thinking about the ultimate goal of this teaching and this is to help people to communicate in English for their daily life and their future.  

Students need  to learn many things about English.  There are two sets of English skills:  receptive – listening and reading; and productive – speaking and writing.

Pronunciation.   First of all they need to learn the sounds of the language and how to pronounce consonants, vowels and dipthongs  (eg:  early).  Students will have unique challenges depending on their  first language, so I would  help Japanese and a Brazilians in different ways.    Pronunciation also includes teaching syllable stressword stress in a sentence, connected speech (joining the sounds of adjacent words) and intonation – the raising and lowering of pitch.

Vocabulary.  Any language has the challenge of learning and remembering vocabulary. How to spell the word is also important.

Grammar.  Students need to know how to form sentences and questions. I spend a lot of time teaching verb tenses (especially the difference between present perfect and past simple), modal verbs, conditionals and phrasal verbs.

Teaching is usually done with a text – written word or spoken on a particular subject. This allows developing vocabulary and to explore the subject with discussions and speaking activities.  The student books I use have some good texts for study but can be irrelevant by being too specific to UK culture or they are dated, for example talking about a Walkman or a VCR player!   That is why it is good to use my own materials based on news stories and Australian culture.

Additional areas of English teaching include Australian slang, idioms and language based on culture, sport and history. I always like to include Australian language in my teaching particular if students ask about Australian English they have heard in their daily lives.

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3 Comments

  1. This is a profound article on teaching English, only an English teacher like you on the job can write about.

    I am an English teacher and I have learned some things from this article. Thank you for your publication!

  2. Learning any language is a two way street, and agree with you that current resources is a good way to learn a language more efficiently, and also to encourage interest in learning it. Breaking down learning a language like how you mentioned in this post is wise – it’s less overwhelming and at the same time, students gain more fun out of practising languages with each other and their teachers.

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