Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting to Know Your EFL Learners

English Classes are Beginning

It’s time to start a new round of classes. There are new groups of English as a foreign language learners, new classes and new schedules for the recently-started scholastic year, semester or course period. With that of course, comes the never-ending challenge of getting to know yet anothoer entirely new group of English language learners – essential information if you’re going to successfully motivate them through the rigors of language acquistion.

What You Need to Know About Your Learners

You need to know your learners’ likes, dislikes and preferences as well as their learning styles and characteristics. Why? It’s because these help you to plan and prepare more effective lessons that take full adfvantage of learner traits.

What to Do and How to Do It

During the course of the first few weeks of class you’ll quite likely develop a detailed knowledge of many learner profile characteristics. You can however, greatly accelerate phases of the process. The fastest, easiest and simplest way to do this is by conducting in-class surveys.

Survey Question Point Ideas

Here are a few ideas you might consider surveying your learners on:

• Favorite activity types
• Hobbies
• Likes and dislikes
Musical preferences
Television and movie preferences
• What types of digital equipment they own
Any preferred websites
• Favorite entertainers
• problem areas in English language learning
• Eating habits and food preferences, etc.

Using the Survey Information

Whether you choose to do one or several simple surveys or more in-depth ones, you might ask, “what can you do with the information you’ve gathered?”

You can use it to:

• Create graphs or charts
• Prepare lesson plans
• Make adjustments to class agenda and curriculum
• Identify a progression of activittes
• Prepare home assignments and online webquests and tasks
• Formulate effective teaching strategies for the class group

Conducting In-class Surveys

A final but all-important idea when conducting in-class surveys is for you NOT to do the work yourself at all. Have your English or other foreign language learners conduct the surveys among themselves – using the target language as much as possible, of course. This could done during a regular class session or for extra work in written and spoken language use or discourse. It’s a series of techniques I quite often use during the beginning of a semester with new EFL class groups. It works very well both for me and for my English language learners. It should be a valuable technique for you to use too.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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