Teaching english to second-language learners
Copyright © ProZ.com, 1999-2021. All rights reserved.
Many translators and other well-versed in English people around the world engage in a form of language-related labour: teaching English to second language learners. This activity can be both rewarding and pleasurable and off-course produce income.
Those who engage in this activity do it either with professionals willing to learn English for work or with students of various grades needing improvement in this subject. Some people even learn it as a personal project. Most of the time you’ll end up teaching one person or a very small group, which means that the material you consider how you consider it and the media you use will have to be tailored to each of your clients. Thus we’ll make general remarks on how to teach two groups: professionals and students. Let’s first talk about the latter.
Many a time you’ll encounter a desperate mom or dad seeking help for their child needing to improve his English or a student needing to improve in this subject. What you will absolutely need to bear in mind as a teacher is what you client is looking for: better grades, and not becoming fluent in English. This has to be stressed as mush as possible because you don’t want the student entering in conflict with the teacher who thinks in his native tongue and translates this incorrectly as he teaches.
Thus a good way of getting started is study how the teacher teaches by looking at books being used, the student’s annotations and speak with the student to understand the teacher’s methods and what is expected of your client. Once you’ve cracked how the teacher thinks you can get to work.
Having understood the teacher, now you need to understand the student, evaluate his abilities as a learner. Get him to show you his work and say a few of the sentences he learnt at school.
Having assessed your student’s abilities, what you can try to do is get him to help you. How so? By getting him interested. Why ? Well, if you’re student is interested, that’s half your job done, he will be curious, focus more and by investing himself in what he learns, results will definitely be better which guarantees you happy parents speaking well of you around them. So, in the end, more work. How to get the student involved? Ask him what music he listens to, give him some interesting facts about the lyrics of his favourite songs, what’s the significance of the name of his favourite band and so forth. Use whatever you think we’ll get him intrigued and make him see that knowing English can be useful to him.
And now you can and have to adapt: select appropriate material, set appropriate goals and work pronunciation. Get him to write too. And in a little while, satisfying results should come about.
This is probably the most enjoyable and rewarding of these activities. Again to get started you’ll need a good assessment. Talk with your client to see why he is endeavouring to learn English and what results is he expecting from his being your customer. Try to understand exactly his position at work and how he will use his second language, whether oral or written or both. Another important factor to consider is time, how often and for how much time will he be available?
Apart from his circumstances, try to evaluate his abilities, has he got some level of English, does he know the alphabet? Get him to speak and write. When assessing estimated progress speed, bear in mind his age, the older the harder to learn. Try to get a feel of his motivation, is he forced to learn English by his boss, or is he eager to learn. As always, if you find ways to motivate him and make him curious, you’ll have better results.
To adapt, then, you’ll need to study his line of work to master the vocabulary he’ll use i.e. electronic components, prosthetics and so forth… See if he has some documents you could use, or search the web to this end. Making flash cards (small card bearing a picture of an object or its name or both) specific to his field should prove successful.
And important thing to determine is the media you will use to teach him. Some do it over the phone, or through internet connections using web cams. See if he accepts homework. But if he is looking for good conversational skills, there’s just one way to get there: Speak, speak, speak!
As your student improves, he’ll be happy and more efficient in his endeavours. And as he sees the results, maybe he’ll want to reach higher goals in his language skills, which may make him a client for longer.
As a general rule, to be successful, you’ll need good understanding of your client, whoever he may be and you’ll need to adapt and work hard at your teaching. If you do, both your client and yourself will benefit from a productive partnership.