Sunday, December 16, 2007

ESL Teachers Using Students' First Language

Generally, ESL teachers are now trained to speak only English to their ESL students, regardless of the level of the English language learner (this usually requires using TPR for beginners). Since ESL students are from all over the world, this is fairly easy to do since the ESL teacher usually doesn't know all of the languages of his or her students. However, it's not uncommon for an ESL teacher to speak at least one other language at least to some extent.

When I have students whose first language is Spanish, I refrain from using my Spanish speaking skills. When a student has trouble expressing himself or herself because he or she does not know a particular word or phrase, then I encourage the student to use other words. And when I use a new word or expression that the student does not know, I also try to explain with other words.

Occasionally, I find myself "cheating" and using the Spanish word for a new English vocabulary word, but I do it rarely and only if I feel it's necessary (due to time constraints, etc.). However, I still believe it's best to try to stick to English for the benefit of the student.


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