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Effective TEFL Methods: Teach English as a Foreign Language

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 8/2/2012

Learning styles used for children can also be effective TEFL methods for adult learners. It's important to speak in the target language always, and incorporate some games into your lessons.

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    Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Styles of Learning

    Most students learn a foreign language through visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. Visual involves watching a video, TV, or reading a story. Auditory involves listening to a story, telling a story, or having someone explains a procedure. Kinesthetic learning involves taking a trip to the mall or grocery store, writing a poem, attending a play or singing a song in English. How does the teacher apply these methods in the classroom?

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    Speak In The Target Language

    The first thing the teacher should have in mind is to avoid explaining grammar. Speak in the target language (English) only, and if even if you know the native language of your students, avoid using it to explain. Using the student’s native language will encourage him to fall back on their language for translation, and this can result in many errors in the new language. Students can study grammar on their own at home; in the classroom they should concentrate on speaking the language. When they make a mistake, gently repeat the sentence correctly, and they will realize this is how it should be said. Use examples rather than explanations of grammar.

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    Listening Activities

    Listening is very important for the student’s comprehension and eventual ability to speak. Read stories or short paragraphs from newspapers or magazines. Stop at certain points and ask students questions to test what they understood, and also to encourage them in discussion. Chose topics of current interest. Research on the internet news stories of what is currently happening in their individual countries; this should spark a certain level of interest. Have the students tell stories about interesting episodes in their lives or interesting happenings in their country. Have them talk about books they have read.

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    Use Role Play

    Use role play to get them up and moving and using the language in real-life situations. If you are only operating in a classroom setting, have students bring different items of clothing and other items found in different types of shops to play games of shopping in the mall. Have them bring food items to practice shopping for food. Everyone listens to and knows at least one English song, even if English is not their language. Tell your students you are having an English Idol Contest, for example, based on the popular American Idol contest. Ask them to sing their favorite English song in competition; have students volunteer to be judges, including yourself as chief judge, and award first and second place prizes for the best singers. Even adult students should enjoy this activity.

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    Be Flexible and Motivating

    It is important that you make your classes relaxing, flexible and comfortable. Many students learning English as a Foreign Language feel intimidated and regard learning a language as a challenge. Your methods can make the process glide smoothly and motivate students to lose their fear and relax and enjoy learning their new language.