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  1. Member
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    #1

    Cool Teaching different levels

    Hi. I've been helping members of my Spanish family with English for some years (10+). However recently I've moved to Cadiz, Spain and found time to do a few courses. The aim was to do some voluntary work. Well that was the idea, but now friends and contacts are showing interest (and I have the time being almost retired) so I thought I might do a few paid for lessons as well.

    Basically I find it great fun and very rewarding.

    However as I get more deeply into the subject I'm wondering if the usage of my own language will be a limitation. The other day a course I'm doing, my third one, asked for a reading text for upper intermediate. So writing from experience I wrote:

    Money changed hands, and our trek into the cloud forests of Ecuador began with a taxi ride: two hours on dirt tracks, and for the most part in the dark.

    After a fitful night's sleep, basic ablutions and a mug of bitter coffee, we met our guide. I must say, it took a while to warm to Carlos, a one-armed, introverted and, as it turned out, underpaid local. But once he started to unveil his world our friendship blossomed. So much flora and fauna would have been missed had it not been for him.

    Now I hope that is not too bad but to get the grammar and punctuation to this level I had to review it several times and consult dictionaries and grammar reference books.

    Sorry wittering but to my questions:

    Should I do a writing course and try to improve my writing capabilities?
    Do ESL teachers focus only on certainly levels that are within their comfort zone?
    Do all ESL teachers start out with very high levels of language skills or do some develop these over time?

    Note: I do not intend to do academic teaching with exams being a key focus.

    Any thoughts will be gratefully received.
    Last edited by nigele2; 03-Jun-2017 at 09:07. Reason: error correction

  2. Skrej's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Until you get very high level speakers, writing compound and complex sentences isn't a major concern. As long as your own examples are grammatical,rarely will your personal writing capabilities limit your students. The exception would be if you were teaching academic level English courses for advanced speakers or something like that. Paragraphs such as your example are going to be unnecessarily complex for most levels of students who are just interested in daily communication.

    I can't speak for others, but my own awareness of the English grammar grew exponentially when I started teaching. Of course I inherently knew the grammar rules, but until I tried to explain the rules to somebody else, I often didn't know the 'why', just the 'how'. I still learn new things to this day, usually because some student has asked me "Teacher, why can't I say _____ ."


    I've also found this to be true of nearly any subject. I've also taught a lot of ceramics and metalsmithing, and even though I had the technical competency, I had some problems explaining basic fundamentals to students at first. I still forget sometimes to slow down on the simple steps for new students, or that I need to explain what I just did.

    Nothing increases your own understanding of a process as much as trying to regurgitate that knowledge for somebody else.

    Also, as far as reading texts goes, it's not like you need to write all your own. When you do need find texts at a specific reading level, there are all manner of systems for determining what level of text complexity a given book or paragraph is at. Various publishers also provide texts for different levels.

    As far as focusing on levels - that depends on your students. At my institution, we do some initial assessments when students enroll, and assign them to a particular class where students are approximately at the same level. As students improve, they advance up to different instructors.

    So while all my students are roughly (although they do still vary quite a bit) at the same level, I still have to tailor lessons to challenge the more advanced students, but not overwhelm the lower level students. In theory, they should transition from my level to post-secondary education, so I teach the higher level students, but I've also taught mid and low level students in years past.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  3. Member
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    #3

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    Until you get very high level speakers, writing compound and complex sentences isn't a major concern. .....................................
    Skrej thank you so much for that. You don't know how helpful that has already been and will be to me. I'll study all your points and see how they apply to me.

    I guess it is in part confidence which can only come by doing formal lessons (obviously my Spanish family members are not going to give me a hard time). However, I do remember before starting out on this route my step daughter introduced me to her college friend. She wanted help with her English as she had exams coming up. She asked me about - something like " How do I express gobble-de-gook in the second person" and I was out of the conversation at the first hurdle I reckon I could make a better fist of it now but there are still many gaps that as you say I can do automatically but would have a hard time expressing the rules.

    My concern with the reading texts is more from a marking/correcting viewpoint. That's why I thought I might steer clear of the upper levels.

    Muchas gracias amigo

    .

  4. Newbie
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    #4

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Hi nigele2,
    Am going to try to answer these two question to the best of my knowledge. Do ESL teachers focus only on certainly levels that are within their comfort zone? It all depend on the district, what are the expectation of the ESOL program in that particular area. In my district at the high school level, ESOL teachers teach all level, however, in the same district elementary and Middle schools focus on one level.
    Do all ESL teachers start out with very high levels of language skills or do some develop these over time? I speak for myself and co-workers we all try new strategies every time, we learn new things as we go and we gain experience as time passes by.

    c.ruiz10s

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Quote Originally Posted by cruiz10 View Post
    Hi nigele2,
    I am going to try to answer these two question​s to the best of my knowledge ability. Do ESL teachers focus only on certainly certain levels that are within their comfort zone? It all depends on the district, and on what are the expectation of the ESOL program in that particular area are. In my district at the high school level, ESOL teachers teach all levels. However, in the same district, elementary and middle schools focus on one level.

    Do all ESL teachers start out with very high levels of language skills or do some develop these over time? I speak for myself and co-workers when I say that we all try new strategies every time. We learn new things as we go and we gain experience as time passes by.

    c.ruiz10s
    cruiz10, please note my corrections above. Although your member profile does not identify you as an English teacher, your posts suggest that you are. Bear in mind that learners here will therefore assume that everything you write is correct. Please take care with your written English and make sure that you proofread posts before submitting them.

    On the subject of your member profile, are you sure that all the information is correct? Some of the errors in your post suggest that your native language might not be English.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 11-Jun-2017 at 22:20.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. VIP Member
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    #6

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Quote Originally Posted by nigele2 View Post
    Should I do a writing course and try to improve my writing capabilities?
    No, I don't think that's necessary. You seem to have quite adequate writing skills.

    Do ESL teachers focus only on certainly levels that are within their comfort zone?
    All the experienced teachers I know are reasonably comfortable teaching the whole range of levels. Some of the non-native-speaker teachers can sometimes feel a little out of their depth dealing with vocabulary at an advanced level.

    Do all ESL teachers start out with very high levels of language skills or do some develop these over time?
    Certainly not all start out like that, no. In the UK the typical entry requirement for an initial teacher training course is a C1 level of competence, which is one level below that expected of an educated native-speaker.

    I suspect that you deserve to have more confidence in your abilities than you do. Teaching ESL well is something that demands such a depth of knowledge and range of skills that it can only really be developed with experience. We all have to start somewhere, so go for it!

  7. Member
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    #7

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Jutfrank your encouragement, like many here, is very gratefully received. Un saludo

  8. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #8

    Re: Teaching different levels

    Quote Originally Posted by nigele2 View Post
    Should I do a writing course and try to improve my writing capabilities?
    I would say no- you're not teaching creative writing, and that doesn't seem to be a weak spot anyway. For most learners, writing is more pedestrian, about how to get to job interviews, etc.

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