Category Archives: ESL

This is the category for English as a Second Language (ESL). This category is suitable for articles that are addressed to both teachers of ESL and to students of ESL. Related articles can be found in English, English Dialects and Slang, Speech Styles and World Languages.

How to Teach English As a Second Language to Beginners

So you have a friend who wants to learn some English. You may be overseas and lots of people ask for help. Here are some ideas for the new teacher or tutor, especially of children.

Start with the alphabet and numbers for young students or absolute beginners. Lesson 1 for example could be to learn the alphabet letters to “g” or whatever you feel is within the students’ ability. For very young students consider bringing a lap top computer and printer to the class and as part of the lesson find, and print out the Flash Cards you intend to use. Likewise with numbers. Make or print out numbers up to 5, then 6-10 then 11-20 and so on. Another 10 minute component could be to print out some writing practice sheets so students can start learning how to write letters and numbers. Compliment the lesson with Flashcards with words starting with the letters you are teaching. For example Apple, Airplane, Air Conditioner, Ape, etc. To round out the lessons you could introduce a simple song, even make one up yourself if you are musical enough.

Play a game related to the topic at hand towards the end of the lesson. There are a variety of board games on the market related to English learning or you could design one yourself. Simple memorizing or guessing games using playing cards can be very entertaining to students if approached correctly and for the right duration. Use Flash Cards to gradually build your students vocabulary. You can set homework objectives within the material on our website, then turn off the sound and test students yourself during lesson time. If you have a group of students, divide them into teams and play a “who knows” game. Quickly display a Flash Card (either number, letter or photo). The student who answers correctly earns a point for their team. An incorrect answer loses a point for the team.

Use games for larger groups, as you can also build English repetition around the set-up of the game and how you divide the students. For example: Surrounding dialogue: “Ok we’re going to play a Do You Know Game. Put all the tables to the side of the room. Put all the chairs in three lines from the front of the room to the back of the room. Make three lines. The first line is all students who were born in either January, February, March and April. The middle line is all students who were born in either. May, June, July and August. The third line is all students who were born in WHAT MONTHS? That’s right. September, October, November and December. Ok, form the lines and let’s start. Who’s going to go first?”

Continue reading

Posted in ESL

How to Teach English Verbs

You need to teach someone English Verbs? Here’s some tips!

  • If this person knows a different language, learn each verb in that language. If not, follow these tips:
  • Do the verb or get someone who can do the verb if possible. If not, show a motion picture of someone doing this verb
  • Point to the action on yourself/the person/ the video and say the verb. Example: Point to a man walking and say “walk”
  • Keep doing this until your student can say and understand the verb. To make sure they understand, point to a person doing it and say something like, “what is that?” or “what is he doing?” The student should say the word
  • Find another student and start from step two


  • You can also (if they speak another language) say the word in their native speech so they understand
Posted in ESL

How to Teach English if You Aren’t a Native Speaker

So you just finished studying English, and there is an opening to teach it. You will have to take extra care as a non-native speaker, but you can still be an amazing teacher. English teachers are in demand these days, and you might like to try one of the most rewarding activities, teaching.

  • Get a certification. It’s true that you know English, but a certification can back you up. Ask around and see what certification tests are available in your country. CAE, TOEFL, ECPE, IETLS are some names to look for. Get the highest score you can.
  • Get a teaching certificate. Knowing English is a must to teach it, but having a certification is essential. Check the requirements for English teachers in your country to see what certificate you need.
  • Don’t worry about being a non-native speaker. While being a native speaker might provide your students a taste of “real” English in class, having learned English consciously gives you a better understanding of grammar rules and the difficulties facing your students.
  • Enroll in a training course. Whether you are a native speaker or not, get some training before starting a class. Learn the skills you need to manage a class and the methodology you need to plan your course in advance. That way, you’ll feel more confident about your skills.
  • Provide real English in class. The teacher is an invaluable source of natural English for their students, but since you’re not a native speaker, try to provide other sources like video, conversations, etc. Look for material that gives your students the chance to get to know real English.
  • Create a student-centered class. This approach will give your students the opportunity to talk, and become better while you talk less.
  • Get in touch with other teachers like you. This will give you support and help you to become better through interaction and exchange of ideas.

Continue reading

Posted in ESL

How to Teach English in China

Want to take a break from “real life” and teach English in China for a year or two? It’s easier than you may think.

  • Do some research and decide what part of China you would like to live in. It’s a big country and this will make your job search much easier? Would you like to live in a large metropolitan area (Beijing, Shanghai), a Chinese city with a lot of history (Xian, Nanjing), a provincial capital (Kunming, Chengdu, Wuhan), a warm place, a cold place, a place close to SE Asia, a place where they speak Mandarin, a place where they speak Cantonese, etc?
  • Do you want to work for a private language school, a university, or a high school? There are pros and cons to each. It’s probably the hardest to get a job at a high school unless you use some kind of volunteer agency (I don’t really recommend these kind of agencies because they usually charge large fees for things that you could set up yourself with a little bit a leg work). Private schools often pay a little more and have smaller classes, but university jobs provide you with housing and perhaps more help with getting your visa, etc.
  • Get contact info. Once you’ve decide on a couple of cities and/or provinces you’re interested in and what kind of school you would prefer to teach at, you can begin to do research and find contact info for specific schools/universities. If you want to teach at the university level, a good place to start your search is on Wikipedia. They have a of “universities in Mainland China”. Even if Wikipedia doesn’t have actual pages related to the university, you can type the name into Google. Many Chinese university have English language websites. For private language schools, it may be a little harder. If you know someone in China, they will be a valuable resource. If you don’t, try typing the city name + “English school” and variations of that into Google. You can also try search for ex-pat websites in various cities. (For example:,, These often have job listings. Several Chinese cities even have Craig’s List now!

Continue reading

Posted in ESL

How to Teach a Learner of English Correct Word Stress

You may have a friend or colleague from another country, who speaks pretty well, but seems to just sound wrong sometimes. You want to help, but don’t know what’s wrong or how to correct him. It might be the person’s incorrect word stress. Read on to find out how to help out.

  • Listen carefully to recognize the error. This kind of error will sound like this: instead of saying beHIND, he will say BEhind, or even BE-HIND.
  • Let him know that this is an error in a kind way. He may think he’s ok since he says all the right sounds, but the word stress is wrong
  • Show him how this is indicated in a dictionary. Any dictionary will show the syllables of a word (be.hind) and which one is stressed (be.hind’).
  • Keep a list of some of his most common errors and show it to him.
  • Help him say the word right by saying it slowly and letting him repeat after you. You may need to do this several times, and remind him often.
  • Tell him that we automatically know the correct stress as native speakers, but he must learn the stress for every word. There are no easy rules to memorize for word stress; it’s just something he must learn when he learns a new word, like the spelling.
  • Show him how to ask you if he’s saying a word with the correct stress. “Am I saying that word right?” would be a good phrase for him to memorize.

Continue reading

Posted in ESL