How do we improve ESL students’ learning experience in the States?

| June 17, 2011

In addition to the common  academic challenges that all students have, English as a second language (ESL) students suffer from additional challenges such as English learning difficulties and social adjustment difficulties. Many of them have not had any experience interacting with Americans and have not learned much English and American culture before coming to the States. To ensure ESL students’ academic success in the States,  educators need to help ESL students overcome their difficulties.

Being an international student at TC, an ESL student and an ESL teacher in the past, I am always interested in trying out different approaches to improve ESL students’  learning experience in the States. In this post, based on my own personal experience and the research I reviewed, I would like to highlight some of the most common English learning difficulties that ESL students have and provide some suggestions to address those difficulties.

English learning difficulties:

-speaking and listening (pronunciation, phone conversation)

-little vocabulary makes reading difficult

-grammar (tense, preposition)

-writing. Difficult to write formal sentences

-little opportunity to practice English speaking, no American friend

-difficult to think and speak in English

How do we help ESL students with their English learning difficulties?

-grammar tricks

-compare English to students’ first language (give examples of mistakes that foreigners usually make)

-give students more drills and practice (role play, presentation, writing assignments)

-more challenging lessons and assignments

-correct students’ mistakes

-be understanding

-give students authentic real life examples and explanations (real life situations, current news and topics)