Do you make assumptions about beginners?

Do you make assumptions about beginners?

Dear Teacher,

Teaching beginners can be a lot of fun, but as I talk to more and more teachers about how they teach, I’m uncovering some misconceptions.  Here are 3 that I’ve uncovered that I hope can help you (or the teachers you work with):

  1. I shouldn’t focus on vocabulary right away

It’s true that vocabulary is best taught in context, as you go. However, with A1 learners, everybody wants to learn what words mean.  As students get more advanced, some will be more interested in global meaning and less in individual words, but at the low levels, it can help students get excited to learn the English words for random things in their environments.  Indulge that!

2. I need to do every single exercise with my students

You’ll find out quickly which students are false beginners which are absolute beginners.  It takes a few lessons until you can find the pace that a class or student can go.  You might do the first lesson in 15 minutes, the second lesson in 20 minutes, then suddenly you get to the stuff they don’t know and hit a wall.  False beginners will go through what they know quickly and then it suddenly stops, so keep an eye out and be flexible!

3.  My beginners don’t want to focus on grammar 

Culture plays a role here.  Some cultures more grammar-focused and you shouldn’t ignore that.  It’s up to the teacher to determine just how much grammar that means, but it makes some students more comfortable with the language if they interact with grammar from the very beginning.

I’m continuing to put together more resources for teaching beginners, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you.  Please feel free to reply with your own thoughts — I love to read them!  

Happy Teaching

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