I've not taught language before, and would welcome views on some pretty fundamental (or moot?) questions.
1. What are the main differences between teaching English to native and non-native speakers?
2. What are the main differences between teaching English to young kids (who are still learning language) and to someone who already speaks another language but is learning English as a new language?
3. How effective is incremental learning for teaching ESL to non-native adults? Is there too much piecing-out in this approach, both in terms of the parts of speech, and in terms of skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking)?
Re: Teaching Approach
As we speak, there are Masters and PhDs sitting in universities all over the world writing books, the first pages of which start with sentences similar to your questions 1 through 3. That is, Wow! What a feasty topic for discussion you've chosen!
Originally Posted by jwschang
In brief, here's my peace:
1. ESL = English for Survival, whereas EFL means, English for Fun, for the majority of people. Especially children, who in this day and age, make up the majority. As for EFL adults, who are not in it for the Fun, I'd say their learning track follows pretty much the same as young L2 learners (i.e. Language transference issues, see 3, below), with the exception that adults are by nature more analytical than children. Adults tend to want to know why this or that works before they even try it, whereas children listen, use, and learn. They just do it. Adults think about it first and then may do it. It depends really. Adults are not as flexible about making mistakes as are children. Fluency requires use, no matter the grammaticallity of the utterance. We see that in kids, in both L1 and L2 learners. Kids communicate for the sake of communicating; they have a great deal of opportunity to play with the language and try it on for size (i.e. if this word doesn't fit, if it's wrong, I don't care. I'll use it anyways until I am ready to change it to the other word), whereas adults tend to feel self-conscious in communicating in an L2; they may feel their use of the language makes them appear less X (i.e. X = important, intelligent, male, feminine, etc.) than they are. Adults who see the world through the eyes of a child (e.g. I exist only. So who cares what people think.) tend to pick up fluency much faster than adults who don't.
2. Depends on the living situation. Are both young learners in a native English environment? If so, one difference would be that L2 (i.e. second language) learners have more to do in terms of organizing cognitively which bits of linguistic info relate to learning their L1 and which bits relate to learning their L2. They've more input to organize. But, that's not to say they differ cognitively from a young L1 learner, say, one who is learning music for example.
Would you explain 3. again, but this time by using examples or different terms.
Re: Teaching Approach
I asked the questions mainly because I'm writing that handbook (not textbook) of mine.
Originally Posted by Casiopea
You've given something more than I expected! Many sincere thanks, Cas. ESL as English for Survival is exactly the purpose of my current humble effort. You have encapsulated my endeavour (and the purpose of a lot of what is being taught and learned in the forums on this site as well) in those words.
I can't and don't intend to produce a textbook. English grammar is really for the specialists to write about, and the non-native, however well-versed, is not best positioned to do that, I believe.
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