Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Speaking Slowly to ESL Students

Should ESL teachers speak more slowly to ESL students than they do to native-English speakers? This is a question that often comes up for ESL teachers and ESL tutors. All the teachers I’ve spoken to about this issue have different thoughts.

Some ESL teachers believe it is important to slow down when speaking to ESL students. Some teachers feel it does a disservice to the learner of English as a second language if the teacher speaks slower than usual. In the “real world,” people don’t always slow down for non-native-English speakers. If they do anything different, they usually speak louder, as if that helps.

I lean more towards the thought that speaking slowly to ESL learners doesn’t help them to make progress and participate fully in English-speaking culture. I find that I change the speed of my speech depending on what I’m teaching my students, and the level of my students. I do believe that it’s necessary and helpful for my ESL students if I speak at my normal speed at least some of the time. Allowing learners to hear a native-English speaker speak at a “normal” rate of speed sharpens their listening skills and helps them to be better prepared for communication outside of class.


No comments: