Techniques for Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)

I taught at an ESL school for several years. We had a high percentage of ESL students but there was usually one parent who spoke English. One year, however, I had two boys who came from another country and spoke zero English and had never been in school. They were placed in second grade because of their age. That was a challenge!

Here are some good techniques I used that are great for teaching ESL children:

  • Face the children when you are speaking.
  • Speak clearly at an average to slow rate.  Do not exaggerate your words.  Speak normally.
  • Avoid using idioms or confusing phrases.
  • Explain things in more than one way.
  • Repeat key words, phrases, and ideas.
  • Use comparisons, similes, analogies, and opposites when appropriate.
  • Brainstorm using a white board or chalk board or if you’re at home then a piece of computer paper works great.
  • Build upon the children’s experiences.
  • Use visuals and props as often as possible.
  • Use culturally appropriate materials.
  • Demonstrate whenever you can (act it out).
  • Provide a print-rich environment.  Label objects all over the room with the name of the object written on an index card. I like to use colorful, neon cards when available
  • Ask children questions often to determine understanding.
  • Have the children role play.