Tips for Learning Languages

I’m asked A LOT of questions on EFL Classroom 2.0. One of the most common is “How can I learn a language? Got any tips?”

If I had to say my number one tip for teaching languages…..I couldn’t. There is no No. 1, top dog, big cheese. Why?Well, I think us teachers are all so different. What works with one, with another it bombs…… All depends is the defining language….

But if I were forced to state something, I’d probably first say — “Make it necessary”. There has to be a need and a teacher can go a long way in providing that fundamental emotive drive and desire. How?

Well, just by being exciting for one! No, you don’t have to stand on your head but make sure you “engage” the students. Language is such a broad sweep of territory, there is always some topic , some angle from which to approach it and make it engaging, fun, interesting, “necessary” for the students. Games, competition, songs, dance, smiles, laughter, ……… however you can, really impress upon learners some “expectancy”.

Further, you can make it necessary by communicating WHY? they are learning language. It isn’t that hard and this video will help. Students of all ages need a rationale.
Further, you can make it necessary through cheerleading. Students want a teacher’s respect despite the appearance otherwise. Make sure you reward great work with a great smile and yahoo!

Make things necessary by letting students put the “necessary” into the lesson. Let them design materials and games, let them choose the topic and questions. Let them learn for their own sake and in the way of their own interests….

Here is a great rundown of things you can do with technology to teach languages….I’m sure you will like many of these…


* Never use technology for the sake of using technology. Ensure instead that the use of technology is warranted within your schemes of work and that it will help you achieve your lesson objectives.

* Use streaming video in your classroom. The advent of broadband has facilitated the inclusion of video straight from the internet within lessons. Authentic video material from sites like YouTube or national TV broadcasters’ websites, such as TVE or Canal+ are a fantastic way to expose reluctant teenagers to the popular culture other reluctant teenagers enjoy in their native countries.

* Use more music. Teenagers are fanatical about music. The likelihood is that they use iTunes and so should you! Find out what type of music they are into and try to get similar music in the target language, which you can then use in your lessons.

* Use teleconferencing tools, such as Skype, to put your students in touch with students in partner schools abroad. They’ll realise there are other people in the same situation in other countries and might even end up establishing relationships they can follow up using MSM Chat, Hotmail, etc.

* Create your own interactive exercises. You know your pupils’ strengths and weaknesses better than anyone, so why be stuck with exercises done by other people for other people? Make your own using tools such as Hot Potatoes or game makers from or LanguagesOnline Australia and then get your school teccie to put them on the school’s website or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You can see my interactive Spanish exercises here.

* Use your interactive whiteboard more effectively. Go on a course and learn the basics. A little knowledge goes a long way helping you create more effective interactive classroom activities for you and your pupils. I have posted some tutorials here.

* Create your own podcasts. They are technically easy to do and once they are done they can be downloaded again and again, year after year. Think about them as lessons to take away. Alternatively get your pupils to make them! You can get started using Audacity.

* Start a subject blog, a class blog or a wiki to showcase your pupils’ work and achievements, providing a focus for their efforts and adding an extra dimension to your teaching. Perhaps you are feeling adventurous and want to make use of some of the online social networks your pupils frequent, such as Facebook, as an educational tool.

* Use internet tools more often to help you prepare lessons or to help your pupils with their class or homework. Using tools such as Voki, Wordle or Animoto, just to name three I have been exploring this year, will help motivate you and your pupils.

* Make the most of your pupils’ gadgets. They all have iPods or other mp3 players and mobile phones, most of which come with a camera nowadays, so why not set them a video task using their mobiles or create or find resources they can put on their iPods?

Read this original blog and hundreds more from EFL Classroom 2.0 members here!

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. Learning and teaching in teleconferencing is a great deal and it affect more than we can see some times you can’t believe your self that what you are getting I remmeber the movie time machine in which there is a digital librarian who could be the most who guides and solve many problems at the spot It is not so difficult to believe that senario it is the most interesting activity in studies now a days and I am in great favor of that.

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