The following are some teaching strategies that EFL teachers should use to help students in the classroom develop their proficiency in English especially when faced with new structure and vocabulary.
1. Encouraging the use of the language:
This should be the key component of each EFL class. Teachers must make sure that the language items are used correctly. To facilitate language usage, teachers must encourage different kinds of language practice. Individual words need to be put in sentences and students should be encouraged to express themselves using the learned language structures, too.
2. Doing behavioral activities:
Students must constantly give the teacher evidence of learning. To provide the teacher with evidence of learning, students must do some observable actions or behaviors that the teacher has requested. Throughout the lesson, the teacher must plan behavioral activities or tasks that give students opportunities to:
Observe, Recognize, Locate, Identify, Classify, Practice, Collect, Distinguish, Categorize, Repeat, Match, Show, Select, Construct, Assemble, Arrange, Put things in order, Etc. Name, Recall, Give Examples, Draw, Organize, Decide, Describe, Tell, Imagine, Restate, Create, Appraise, Dramatize, Contrast, Compare, Question, Map, Discriminate, Etc. List, Underline, Review, Interpret, Compose, Dictate, Point out, Record, Report, Predict, Express, Plan and Evaluate. Relate, Generalize, Demonstrate, Outline, Summarize, Suppose, Estimate, Judge, Explain, Debate, Illustrate, Infer, Revise, Rewrite, Assess, Justify, Critique, Etc.
All of the above are observable actions that teachers should encourage students to do within certain activities so that they can show evidence of their learning.
3. Activating prior knowledge:
Teachers must become very familiar with the background knowledge that students bring to the learning situation, so they can always emphasize what students already know, and build on this prior knowledge. Visuals, realia and all kinds of connections to previous lessons should be become essential components of all lessons.
4. Working in groups:
Teachers should plan the behavioral activities in ways that give students the opportunity to work in groups to achieve specific purposes. Teachers should encourage students to implement these varied activities in heterogeneous groups.
5. Dealing with aspects of culture:
EFL students have their own experiences and cultural backgrounds and they may come from different geographical parts, so teachers should acknowledge that first. Then they should affirm the value of difference among different cultures. Next, teachers should expand the limited cultural knowledge of students by tackling with different aspects of English-speaking people’s culture showing how these aspects affect their behavior and their ways of expression. While teachers are doing so, they should develop students’ awareness of their own culture.
6. Demonstrating and modeling:
It is another most important component in all English language lessons. The key role of the teacher is to demonstrate and model all the behaviors to be learned in the lesson, especially the verbal behaviors expected to be mastered by the students. All teachers must remember that for most English language learners, teachers are the only role models that students will ever come in contact with for the language items. In today’s world, few parents have the time or the energy – or the knowledge – to present the content of the language lessons. Only teachers can provide that.
7. Introducing the meanings:
All words must be understood before students listen or read. Thus, teachers, must help students acquire, practice, develop, learn, and master the new vocabulary before they listen or read. Visuals, realia, dramatization, or any other means can be used to help students master the new vocabulary before listening or reading begins. Graphic organizers are very important in this case, too as they can be used to help students become aware of the new words they are about to learn. Graphic organizers that group words in categories by meaning are the most effective means to introduce new words. Word definitions or looking up the meaning of words in a dictionary are not the most effective means to introduce new words. For younger learners pictures can be used with printed words.
8. Integrating the four language skills across the curriculum:
Students should have opportunities to:
- Listen to the new language of the lesson as the teacher uses visuals, realia, and other means to physically convey the meaning of the language.
- Speak the new language through active learning activities.
- Read the textbook or parts of the textbook or reading selection, and they should do that with understanding.
- Write about what they have learned answering the textbook questions in their own words.
When students have been provided fully integrated listening, speaking, reading and writing activities, they would provide clear evidence of learning the target language.
9. Developing higher order thinking skills:
In strategy No. 2, above, I indicated that students must be engaged in suggested behavioral activities that students can perform to give evidence of learning. These activities (listed in No. 2 above) describe simple to complex or higher order thinking skills. Students who can perform these observable behaviors are giving evidence that they are operating and developing from simple to complex or higher order thinking skills.
The most effective tool teachers use to implement all of the above strategies is the question. Every time a teacher asks a question the student must actively respond. Through questions, teachers can monitor student use of the language. Questions help assess prior knowledge and provide the most effective tool to obtain evidence of learning. Through questions teachers can provide new information to students while demonstrating and modeling the use of the language. Questions can be asked at the lowest – knowledge – and the highest – evaluation – levels of thinking skills. Questions help teachers provide opportunities for students to listen and speak. In fact, questioning techniques allow teachers to have control of their classroom while helping students succeed. How? By controlling the level of language difficulty of the questions. A teacher can choose which question to ask a student depending on how much knowledge the student has. By choosing the right question appropriate for each student, teachers can promote learning while at the same time allow students to experience success.
These ten ELT strategies characterize effective EFL lessons and guarantee effective language learning and achieving different language learning objectives.