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Everyday Words Exercise for Beginner ESL Class

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 8/2/2012

There are many similarities between languages which belong to the same family. This is the first concept which the student should understand in an introduction on second language acquisition.

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    Similarities and Differences

    In presenting an introduction on second language acquisition, the student should be made aware that while there may be some similarities between his native language and the language he is learning, each language has its own vocabulary, its own word order and its unique sound system among other features. The student should avoid at all costs translating from one language to the other. He must learn that each language has its own way of expressing an idea, especially where idioms are concerned.

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    Latin and Indo-European Roots

    Focusing on the similar roots of the language can be very helpful for the student in acquiring vocabulary. When a student learns Latin roots, it helps to build his vocabulary not only in English; it also helps in French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese, since these are all Romance languages. Students will also be able to recognize vocabulary in the second language. Spanish and English also share Indo-European roots and as a result have a similar grammar structure. However, the use of verb tenses like the Present Progressive Tense, can for example, confuse the Spanish speaker studying English; and these differences must be carefully explained.

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    Everyday Words

    Linking words in one’s native language to words in the new language is only one of the effective ways to teach a second language. Another way to get students speaking quickly is to make a list of some of the most important words used on an everyday basis in a language. These for the most part are also the most important words used in the new language. Also make a list of survival words. After learning the words, students can play a game of guessing words. Give for example to native Spanish speakers learning English, clues such as “it begins with g, it is a verb” or “it begins with b, it is an adjective used to describe the sun.” Here are some random words which you can use:

    a, and, are, ate, been, can, cannot, could,

    do, don't, drink, eat, evening, excuse, fine, from

    get, give, go, good, goodbye

    here, have, hello, help, how

    I, is, it, know

    let, left, like, live,

    mean, me, meet, more, morning, my

    name, nice, night, no, not, nothing

    our, please, repeat, right

    slowly, sorry, speak, stop

    take, taxi, tell, ten, thank, that, the, this, understand

    very, want, we, well, what, when, where, which, who, why,

    yes, you, your

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    Additional Vocabulary

    In addition to these, students should also learn the numbers, names of countries, nationalities and languages spoken. They also need names of places in a town; these they can use to practice giving and taking directions. They should learn words like bank, hotel, restaurant, school, town hall; and words like airport, harbor and port.

    Use these strategies for introduction on second language acquisition, and create some of your own. They should go a long way in helping students to achieve success with a new language.