The Four Secrets to Learning a Foreign Language

There are basic best practices in learning just about anything. If you want to lose weight, you should burn more calories than you consume. If you want to save money you need to spend less money than you earn. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your English classes, here are four key components to think about.

Comprehensible Input

In order for learning to take place, language targets have to be at a level appropriate for learners. The key is to use English that is just beyond your students ability to challenge them to push forward and learn new things. Stephen Krashen calls this idea ‘Comprehensible Input’ while Vygotsky called it the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (ZPD). You may have also heard it as ‘Language Plus One’ (L+1). Basically, it is what students know now plus a little more.

This concept is integral to effective language acquisition. If English targets are too easy then students do not learn anything new. If targets are too difficult then students will not comprehend anything and will just get demotivated. Finding the right level for each class is essential.Continue Reading

7 Common Errors of English Teachers

Most English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers start teaching with very little training and often end up making it up as they go. I know, I was there. I made all the common mistakes and I didn’t even know I was teaching ineffective classes until I started studying more about teaching and had aContinue Reading

The Two Biggest Mistakes of English Teachers

Learning a foreign language is easy. All you need is lots of repetition at a level appropriate to your understanding. These two key factors; repetition and comprehensible input, are so important to language acquisition that they are also the greatest mistakes that foreign language teachers make. English Teacher Mistake 1 – Teaching at a WrongContinue Reading

Are Textbooks Effective in TEFL or ESL Classes?

I have personally shifted out of using textbooks in most of my classes, from children to adults. There are many reasons for this which I will mention in this article and in future posts. Textbooks have been the central focus of education for so long that even experienced teachers have trouble imagining any other wayContinue Reading

TESL and TEFL are NOT the Same

English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) are NOT the same. Many schools, teachers, authors and other professionals use these words interchangeably, which wouldn’t be such a problem if it were merely a lexical error. The real problem stems from the fact that most teachers continue to adhere toContinue Reading