Words Worth Blog

Involve Learners to Accelerate Language Learning

Don’t you as an English language teacher want your students to learn and use English with enhanced proficiency? Do you think it is possible for students coming from non-English backgrounds to acquire or learn English and be at par with students from privileged environments in terms of English language use?

As much as a challenge it may seem to be, learning any language, even English as a Second Language, if the right kind of environment is built is possible. The adage by Confucius holds true even for language learning: ‘Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.’

Learners when taken beyond the monotony of bookish studies or the study of language fundamentals for the sake of the study itself, and when they get real exposure to using a language pick up the target language, in our case English, easily and quickly. Their learning and retention of the language increase manifold.

When learning English as a Second Language, the volume of opportunity the learners get to use the target language in their day to day life is the largest determining factor in their acquiring the language. These opportunities provide the learners appropriate space to use and internalise the language structures and vocabulary they learnt in a formal classroom scenario.

This desired outcome can be achieved by enhancing the involvement of the learners in the target language. To begin with, the English as a Second Language teacher can present herself as an English speaker, someone who comprehends no other language. The teacher in such a position is able to elicit responses in English whether the questions asked be factual or explanatory questions in the beginning or speculative and collaborative questions in due course of time.

Another effective strategy for enhancing the language proficiency is improving the vocabulary of the learners. Involving them in this process can be highly beneficial. To do so, for one they can be asked to identify etymological clues of unknown words, thereby adding many such words into their vocabulary. They can also be asked to identify and analyse morphology in sentences, thereby involving them in understanding various structures used in sentence and context formation. This ‘comprehension’ of the morphology of the given language and of the various linguistic units that give it form, allows the learners a ‘feel’ of the pulse of the language and are able to learn it faster and retain it better.

Given that the opportunity to participate and use the language is optimal, the learners learn a language better than they would under their normal circumstances of limited exposure. This also means that when learners see the same word or sentence structure used in different sentences or contexts, it helps them to appreciate the real meaning and use of such vocabulary. They feel more confident about the use of such words and sentences.

Involving learners in understanding the language surely proves beneficial for this objective. The learners get drenched in the fundamentals of the target language and this acts as a stimulus to learning language.