What is an ESL Class (For Students & Teachers)

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Did you know that English is the most spoken language in the world? There are more than 1.5 billion people who speak English either natively or as a second language.

Children as young as two years old start learning English to get the best opportunities in life. Adults need to know English to travel, work internationally, and climb the corporate ladder. Due to the high demand to learn English for school and career life, many people take ESL classes.

What is ESL?

ESL is a commonly used acronym when teaching English to students from other countries. ESL stands for “English as a Second Language.”

The students are native speakers of a language other than English. However, many have to learn English as English is the lingua franca between nations.

What is an ESL Class?

ESL classes are designed for students who want to improve their English language skills. The classes typically focus on grammar, vocabulary, and speaking practice. ESL classes can be found at many community colleges and online. They are usually offered at different levels, so you can choose the one that is right for you. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced English learner, taking an ESL class can help you improve your language skills.

What is an ELL?

English Language Learners, or ELL for short, refers to the students in the ESL classroom. The students are not yet proficient in the English language. They may be adults, teens, or kids and are collectively called ELLs.

ESL for Kids and Teens

ESL classes are offered to kids at all grade levels and take place in private and public schools. They often start learning from kindergarten and continue this journey throughout their elementary, middle, and high school years.

Language programs can also take place in summer schools. Learners take a language learning assessment so teachers can place them in the correct class level.

ESL for College and University Students

Students may enroll in ESL classes in college and university for academic credit and to help build their confidence. There are specialized courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students.

If students want to study at a university abroad, they will need a minimum score on the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams.

ESL for Adults

Adults may wish to learn English for their career or to travel.

Adults can learn English through adult education classes, online language programs, or community colleges.

There are many English programs available. Check out these English courses that you may enjoy.

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Is an ESL Program Right For You?

An ESL program is an educational curriculum designed for those who want to improve their English language skills.

Taking ESL classes can help you improve your English language skills significantly. It is helpful to look for a program that offers an interactive approach, such as one-on-one instruction or small-group activities. This allows you to practice your language skills in an engaging way.

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What Are The Advantages of Taking an ESL Class?

Taking an ESL class offers numerous benefits.

An ESL program allows you to practice speaking English in a relaxed atmosphere. This can help you become more comfortable with the language and increase your confidence.

The classes are conducted in a way that allows you to practice using English in real-world situations, such as ordering food or asking for directions.

Of course, you’ll gain valuable insight into the grammar and vocabulary of the language at your proficiency level. The classes are catered to fit your needs and goals.

You’ll also be able to form relationships with other students and practice real-life conversations. This can help you learn the language more quickly.

At the End of an ESL Program, What Will I Have Learned?

By completing an ESL program, you will have improved your understanding of grammar and vocabulary in English. You should also be able to express yourself more confidently and accurately. Additionally, you’ll be better prepared for conversations and may even find that you can converse fluently with native English speakers.

Who is the TESOL Teacher?

A TESOL teacher prepares lessons suitable for the language learner. It stands for “Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages.

A TESOL teacher is someone who teaches English to students who are non-native speakers. This is an umbrella term to describe the teachers in the industry; they can also be referred to as EFL or ESL teachers. They teach them how to read, write, listen, and converse effectively.

These teachers are usually native English speakers or non-native speakers fluent in English. Teachers don’t need a degree; however, it is advantageous to have one. They usually complete a TEFL or TESOL course so they can work abroad or online.

Here are the differences between the types of teaching certification available and the ones I recommend for those who want to travel abroad or teach online.

In-depth, internationally-recognized, and accredited TEFL courses for those who want to teach English online or abroad. Read The TEFL Academy review.

How Do Teachers Prepare for an ESL Class?

To prepare for an ESL class, teachers need to ask the following questions:

  • What are the students needs?
  • What topics are the students interested in learning? What is the theme?
  • Can I connect the lesson to their personal experience or the wider contexts of the world?
  • What are the students’ level of English?
  • What are the lesson objectives?
  • Do we need to focus on grammar, pronunciation, reading, or speaking activities?
  • What warm-up activity should I prepare?
  • How should I give them feedback? Formal or informal assessment?
  • What follow-up activities should I prepare?

The teacher covers the learning objectives according to the students’ level and monitors their progress. This allows the teachers to structure the course accordingly.

ESL classes should engage students and help them learn and recall the information. When preparing for an ESL class, teachers typically structure the class in the following way:

Pre-Activity

To establish the students’ interest, teachers may introduce a warm-up activity related to what they will teach that day.

This is a spontaneous activity and is up to the teacher to decide. For example, they could show them a newspaper headline or a photo of a person, place, or thing.

The teacher could even create questions about the topic and allow the students time to discuss these questions. The pre-activity is usually fun, spontaneous, and gets their minds thinking.

The pre-activity is also a good time to teach any new vocabulary they need for the next part of the lesson.

The Main Activity

The main activity may involve some kind of reading, listening, speaking, or writing exercise. There are many resources online that help teachers prepare lessons for free; check out some websites here.

Cater to the students’ level by asking complex or simple questions. The students can work alone or in groups.  

ESL classes involve working together to achieve goals and encouraging the students to speak English. The teacher can provide informal assessments, such as error correction and eliciting ideas.

Follow-up Activity

The follow-up activities should reinforce what the students learned in the main activity. This greatly enhances students’ learning by applying what they’ve learned in a different context. 

The follow-up activity should be fun to help them practice their learning. Perhaps this could be a debate, discussion, a fun game, or a competition.

For English Language Teachers or Those Looking to Get Started…

Get our teacher expert tips, new teacher checklist, teacher planner, and notes that reveal some great teaching techniques and strategies.

Homework

At the end of class, the teacher may give feedback and homework.

The feedback will cover what they have learned today, what they were good at, and general improvements the students can make.

The homework will help the students individually work on their English language learning.

How To Teach an Online ESL Class?

Teaching English online follows a similar procedure. The teacher may need to think of more creative ways to communicate their point. Teaching ESL classes online involves:

Read the Learning Objectives

The teacher understands the learning objectives. Vocabulary, questions, or picture pre-activities are presented in the lesson to prepare the student.

Game: Odd One Out
Which is the odd one out?

Optional: Warm-Up Activity

Warm-up activities and ice-breakers are great for setting the tone in the class. Teachers can play a guessing game, ask questions or introduce flash cards for example. There are so many games to choose from, but don’t get too carried away– remember, there is still work to do!

The Main Activity

The students practice their reading, speaking, grammar, listening, or writing skills. The teacher should ask the student comprehension questions and challenge the students’ abilities. 

Related: How to Teach English Online Guide

Follow-up Activity 

The follow-up activity may involve some kind of game, matching exercise, or making sentences with the new vocabulary. The teacher can be creative and introduce their own activities. 

Feedback

The teacher can provide feedback or summarise what they learned in the lesson. The teacher should actually be providing feedback throughout the session and correcting their mistakes, and then provide a gentle reminder at the very end if time allows for it.

The students can practice what they’ve learned at home by completing homework and taking notes.

ESL Classroom Mistakes to Avoid!

Here are some common errors teachers should avoid in ESL classes. Don’t make these mistakes!

Too Much Teacher Talk Time

The teacher needs to step back in the ESL class and give the students more talk time. 

In some online ESL classes, the total teacher talk time is monitored. Speak less and give the students more time to talk. 

Boring the Student

Not providing interesting activities for the students can produce a boring ESL class.

The ESL classes are typically designed to be fun and interactive, not boring. Be sure to grab the students’ attention at the beginning of the lesson, as this will help them adjust to the main activity.

Not Focusing on the Students’ Needs

The students’ needs are most important. They should determine the lesson’s learning objectives, goals, and outcomes. 

This is what the difference is between a good teacher and a great teacher:

A good teacher can create their own lesson plan.  A great teacher caters the lesson for the needs and interests of their students.

The teacher knows that whatever they find interesting may not necessarily interest the student.

Conclusion

An ESL class is a great way to learn English. They enable students to practice the language in a safe atmosphere while also improving their understanding of grammar and vocabulary. With dedication and hard work, taking an ESL class can help students reach their language goals.

What is an ESL Class?

I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!

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