Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Speaking Slowly to ESL Students

ESL teachers go round and round about the issue of talking slowly to ESL students. Some teachers think you should speak slowly and some don’t think you should slow down your speaking at all. I lean more towards the speaking-at-a-normal-pace side of the issue.

With advanced ESL or EFL students, I think it is especially important for teachers to speak at a normal rate. When ESL learners are out in the real world, native-English speakers usually don’t slow down their speaking. So if I’m able to get my English language learners used to fast speaking, then I believe it benefits them when they are outside of class. I also make a point of teaching them the many reductions that native speakers use, so that they can figure out what the heck we are saying.

For my beginning level students, I do tend to slow down my speaking more often, especially when I am explaining some English point. I tend to speak quicker when we are “just talking.” Of course, if the ESL student just can’t understand what I’m saying after a couple of tries, I will slow down my speaking.

I tend to think that ESL teachers and tutors who always speak slowly and clearly to their students are actually doing a disservice to their students. ESL learners need to be prepared for how the “real world” (of native-English speakers) speaks. I think it’s helpful for them if they are able to practice their listening skills in a safe classroom or tutoring session.


1 comment:

Terry Kaufman said...

I agree with you.

I think it is important to speak appropriately. Adapt your speed of talking and use of English to the student's level.

To me, as an ESL teacher, it is vital to create a "communication-friendly" environment.

You have a fantastic resource here and I thank you!