I do not know what kind students you are teaching. I am a Chinese who is learning English, I would like to share my experiences of learning English, particularly spoken English.
When I came to the UK several years ago, spoken English and listening comprehension were the major challenges for me (even now), as normally most Chinese students have been trained a lot in grammars and remembering vocabularies. When I was speaking in English, I tended to think about the grammar and vocabulary first, namely the structure, tense, and words. I tended to organize them in my mind first, and then I spoke them out. Somebody said that practice makes perfect. It is true, but how? Based on my experiences, two methods helped me a lot.
The first one is watching TV with English subtitles on. I bought many DVDs of the famous drama, ‘Friends’, and watched them with subtitles on. I found it worked. After I finished watching the whole series, I felt like being soaked in English. Both my speaking and listening is improved quite a lot. Actually, I am still watching it over and over. I tried to watch BBC news with subtitles on, but not that good, as the subtitles are displayed a little bit later to the voices (any idea to solve this problem?).
Another effective method to improve my speaking and listening is getting familiar with English in different occasions, such as in kitchen, hotel, shopping, religions, politics, wedding, football, culture, whatever topics you are interested in. In this way, I am getting familiar with more vocabularies and expressions. You will know how English express themselves and what vocabulary they tend to use in a certain occasion, in another word, know the real and living English rather than English from books. This is very important, as I found the English I learnt from my real life is different from what I learnt from books before.
This is my experiences of learning English. From a student’s perspective, I would like my English teacher to help me in these two ways. Hope it helps
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