English as a Living Language
One of your main challenges as an EFL teacher is presenting English as a living language. By living language we mean a way of communicating, the doorway to a new culture and a bridge to connect gaps in our understanding of this world we all share. Most students of English will only know English as a dry subject in a textbook. Students may know aspects of English and American pop culture, but may not be able to draw any connections to the language they learn in school. As an EFL teacher, you can really engage your students in their learning by making English useful to their everyday lives as well as a means to achieve greater goals.
Our Top Four Tips:
1. Relate to Culture and People
One way to present English as a living language is to relate English to the people and cultures who speak it. Present your students lessons on American, Australian or Irish culture. Talk about the history of the English language and how it spread across two oceans. Play a game of cricket, watch some Irish dancing or sport your kilt in the classroom. Who are the type of people who speak English on a daily basis and what do their lives look like? What are their interests?
2. Talk about Pop Culture and Media
One way to create an instant connection with your students is to associate the English language with pop culture and media from English speaking countries. Young people are much more likely to know about One Direction than the six wives of Henry VIII or their favourite football club than the royal family. Elicit movies, shows and celebrities your students know which come from English speaking countries. Your students may not realize Disney is an American company or the Beatles come from Liverpool. Once you draw these connections, you can use what they already know to relate to the English language and culture.
3. Role play, role play, role play
Role plays are a great way to present functional language, that is, language used in real life scenarios. More often than not, a student’s use of the English language extends to writing two page essays about what he or she did over the weekend – not so useful for everyday life. Have your students set up a restaurant, one student can play the waiter, the other the guest. Maybe your students are going to the mall. What different types of shops would they visit? What questions would they need to ask the employees? Have your students create their own roleplays as well, this way they will practice exactly the English they feel is useful to them,
4. Sing songs, play games, do sports
This is pretty self-explanatory. Get your students out of their seats and using English in fun and interactive activities. Build vocabulary with a catchy tune students cannot get out of their head. Play a game in English, so English suddenly becomes their means to reach the other side of the game board and win that piece of candy. Play sports in English so students realize that English is a language that they can do anything in. The more your students use English in exciting real-life scenarios, the more they will see English as an asset and learning English as an endeavour worth taking on.