18 ways to enhance your language skills

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– Tips for teachers –

You are probably aware that learning a language can be achieved easily id you are determined to learn it. With the available resources in the libraries, schools, and online courses it is only an excuse to postpone the learning of a foreign language that can improve your skills, help you find a better job or boost your self-confidence.

Here are 18 strategies that are offered for enhancing language skills and managing language challenges.

This listing is by no means exhaustive, but it is rather meant as a place to begin with and further improve your determination to succeeded in your efforts to teach your students a foreign language.

1. Take the mystery away.

The first and perhaps most important strategy is to learn the components of the language, the common language challenges and language strategies,. This will help you understand the language strengths and challenges – or taking the mystery away

2. Simplify directions.

Students with receptive language challenges might need directions broken down into their simplest form. They can also benefit from a comic book-type illustration of steps to take for the completion of a task.

3. Give written exercises of directions and examples.

Students with receptive language challenges will need directions given to them at a relatively slow pace. They may need the directions to be repeated several times. Most often, it is beneficial to have written directions that are given orally. Examples of what needs to be done can be also useful.

4. Provide frequent breaks.

Students with receptive language challenges may use up a lot of energy listening, and, therefore, tire easily. Short, highly structured work times with frequent breaks or quiet periods may be helpful, so that they can have a rest and proceed refreshed further on.

5. Give additional time.

Students with receptive and expressive language challenges will most likely have a slower processing speed. This is why they should be allowed an additional time for written work and tests.

6. Sit Close.

You might have cases in a traditional classroom when a student may want to sit close to the teacher, so that she or he can watch the facial expression of the teacher when s/he is talking. This is good as it may also help diminish interference from other auditory distractions. The convenience of the online classroom is that everybody is sitting in the first raw and the attention is not distracted by the “last raw” rebels, distracting the other students.

7. Allow voluntary participation.

Students that have language processing challenges, should not be put on the spot by being required to answer questions during class discussions, especially without being forewarned. Their participation should be on a voluntary basis. This advise goes both for traditional and for online classrooms

8. Teach summarizing and paraphrasing.

Reading comprehension can often be enhanced by summarizing and paraphrasing. This will help students identify the main idea and supporting details. Provide key words such as who, what, when, where and why to orient attention to the appropriate details is also helpful.

9. Teach a staging procedure.

Students find a staging procedure beneficial when writing paragraphs, essays, poems, reports and research papers. This is why they should generate ideas, and then should be asked to organize them. They should attend to spelling and grammatical rules. It is useful if they list their most frequently occurring errors in a notebook or a word document and refer to this list when self correcting.

10. Encourage renewed investment of energy in older students.

Older students with experience in reading failure from an early age, must become convinced that a renewed investment of energy will be worthwhile. Louisa Moats, an expert in the field of reading, states that older students who are very poor readers must have their phonological skills strengthened, because the inability to identify speech sounds erodes spelling, word recognition, and vocabulary development. Phonological awareness, spelling, decoding, grammar, and other language skills can be taught as a linguistics course in which instructors use more adult terminology such as phoneme deletion and morphemic structure. Phonemic drills can include games such as reverse-a-word (ex. Say  – teach – then say it with the sounds backwards – cheat.)

11. Give Foreign Language Waivers

Students that have experienced problems with their primary language are more likely to have difficulty with a foreign language. Foreign language requirements may need to be waived for these students and special attention and if needed additional classes offered.

12. Use echo reading for fluency development.

In order to develop fluency, it is helpful to have a student in the lower grades echo read and also read simultaneously with an adult. The adult and the student may take turns reading every other sentence or paragraph. Additionally, the adult may model a sentence and then have the student read that same sentence.

13. Amplify auditory input.

You can use multisensory techniques to increase phonetic skills and to memorize sight words. For example, if a student sounds out a word or write sight words on a dry erase board, using different colored markers, all while using Hearfones, a Phonics Phone or a Toobaloo device to enhance auditory input. These devices amplify and direct the student’s own voice straight back to his/her ears, causing increased auditory stimulation to the brain.

14. See, say, hear and touch.

Multisensory strategies are helpful for learning the letter names. Examples include: 1) spreading shaving cream on a table top and having the child write letters in the shaving cream while saying the letter name out loud and 2) cutting out letters from sandpaper and having the child “trace” the sandpaper letter with his or her finger while saying the name of the letter. These are also available in online educational sites for teaching language through games.

15. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” may become especially important for the visual person students, who have difficulty expressing him/herself verbally. For example, a student may make diagrams, charts, or drawings to help him/her remember what he has read. If he is good at art, the student may draw or paint pictures to explain his/her ideas.

16. Teach active reading.

In order to help with comprehension of the material, it may be helpful to underline key words and phrases with a pencil or highlighter and to paraphrase them in the margins, thereby making reading more active. If the student is not allowed to write in the book, he/she can write the main words or ideas on Post-It notes. These tools are available in online versions.

17. Guide students to read between the lines.

When first teaching students to infer while reading, you should first guide the thinking by using a whole class activity. After the class as a whole has identified a logical inference, the teacher should facilitate the examination of the process by which they arrived at their inference. Leading questions may be, “What is the author trying to saying to us? How do we know the author meant this?” Remind students that authors provide clues (imply), so that readers can infer.

18. Provide individual evaluation and intervention.

You should be aware that many students with language challenges benefit from individual evaluation and remediation by highly qualified professionals. It is critical to use assessment tools designed to pinpoint specific skill deficits and to provide individual or small group remediation/intervention using explicit, evidence-based strategies and methods that directly address each student’s individual needs.

I hope you will find the above given tips useful and will introduce and expand them further in your future teaching lectures.


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