Posted on July 24, 2019 | By Jenni Fogg
All Things TEFL
29th Mar 2019
There are many different types of learner in the EFL classroom – including those who meticulously file every worksheet at the end of a lesson and those who chuck the worksheets in the bin on their way home. As their teacher, it’s your duty to encourage your students to become better learners – not simply developing their English language skills but helping them to study more effectively too. This blog will cover the top 4 ways you can do this.
#1 Recording language
Writing new language in a notebook is one of the simplest and most obvious things learners can do to help them develop their English. However, you’ll need to make sure this is being done in a genuinely helpful way.
Rule number 1: ‘no single words’. Get your students to write any new language in a book specifically for vocabulary, sometimes called a ‘collocation book’, if not in a full example sentence.
Example: Overdue – not paid or done by the required time
Her baby is rent.
My eye test is …overdue…
Here the learner has included common collocations for this word – and the table is a lot more useful than simply writing the word itself on a blank page of a notebook. It might be quite personal for your students as to how they organise this language. For example, they might simply write language as they come across it chronologically. You could also encourage students to organise language by topic, e.g. money, personality, education, etc.
In the classroom, you might find that you’ll need to provide (or elicit) these collocations when you’re teaching new language. Alternatively, you may take the opportunity to provide a few uses for a certain word when new language comes up organically in the lesson. If you struggle to come up with collocations off the top of your head, use the collocations sections of online dictionaries or a dedicated collocations website.
Instead of a notebook, students might prefer to use flashcards. They can dedicate a flashcard to the new language and organise them into topics by colour. Flashcards can also be digital. Quizlet is a fantastic resource for this – you can create language banks for your students or they can make their own. Students can learn, review and test themselves on the new language on their laptop, phone or tablet.
#2 Go over the basics
When you meet a new class or if new students are joining your class, it’s a good idea to review some basic terminology. Depending on the level of your students, you might want to review some “grammar words”.
This could be anything from noun, verb, adjective and adverb to present perfect continuous, mixed conditionals and cleft sentences. Ensuring your students know the language they can use to talk about language will ensure their learning, both in and outside the classroom, is more efficient.
When your students are recording language, as recommended above, they can use codes to help them remember the form of the word. For example, you could encourage students to record language with the following codes:
adj. = adjective
adv. = adverb
#3 Set goals
In order to help your students to progress with their language learning, set class goals every week. Students can then discuss whether they achieved these goals with their classmates. By setting goals, students will be forced out of their comfort zone, which will help their skills to develop. Possible goals you can set for your students include:
#4 Encourage self study
There are plenty of ways that your students can continue studying outside of the classroom. As we mentioned earlier, Quizlet is a really useful tool to get your students playing around with new language outside of the classroom.
Some coursebooks also have online resources, which go over the work you’ve recently studied. These are usually quite fun, interactive quiz resources, often including listening and reading components too.
You can also direct your students to useful websites to complement their learning, such as BBC Learning English, News in Slow English and the myriad YouTube videos where learners can pick up endless language, such as phrasal verbs from Cork English Teacher.
We hope these tips and resources will help you to help your students become better learners. It’s not just the work the students do in the classroom that will help them make progress, but the time and effort they put in outside the classroom too. By teaching your students how to record new language effectively, you’ll be sure that your students have the skills to continue learning when the course ends.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like: 5 Fantastic EFL blogs for teaching tips and advice.