I have always believed English is an absolutely amazing language but also a very challenging one. It is my second language and I started learning it when I was 13. After living in the US for 4-5 months, I was fluent in speaking. But now, having spent more than 8 years in the US, I feel as if English is my native language. I’ve taught English for almost 7 years and I’ve developed some techniques myself while teaching. I would like to share them here with you. I think these techniques will help you better understand the basic concepts of English grammar.
But first, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to while learning English:
- Do not compare one skill to another. If you are speaking fluently, but making a lot of grammatical mistakes, that is not OK. Just because people understand what you mean doesn’t mean that you are good at English. You need to be equally good at writing, speaking, and listening. You also have to be good at vocabulary and grammar.
- You need to be patient. You cannot learn English in 2 weeks or 2 months. Learning a language requires a lot of attention and practice. But you improve it day by day. How fast you will learn totally depends on the effort and time you put in.
- Pay attention to exceptions. English language has a lot of exceptions and you need to learn them one by one.
- Pay attention to phonetics. English language is not pronounced as the way it is spelled. One vowel might have three different sounds or vowels can come together or in arrangement with certain consonants to make different sounds. You need to learn them.
- Involve English in your daily life. Either get a native friend to practice with, listen to English music all the time and try to get the meaning of the lyrics, watch English shows with English subtitles, Youtube videos, TED Talks, etc. Among my students, the ones who exposed themselves to English more in their daily lives succeeded way faster in learning English.
I believe that English as a Second Language learners have the common problems in following topics mostly:
- Prepositions (e.g. in/on/at)
- Phrasal Verbs
- Gerund and Infinitive
- Irregular Verbs
- Perfect Tenses
- Future Tenses
- Conditional Sentences (If/Unless)
- Collocations (For example: tell a lie – not say a lie or fast food not quick food, etc.)
- Inversions (Not only had I been to the wedding, but also I gave the groom a gift)
- Exceptions (e.g. Why if I ‘were’ you, not ‘was’?)
In this blog post I will give you tips so that learning (or teaching) these topics won’t be -hopefully- a pain anymore.
Before I explain anything here, I would like to tell you that my style in teaching has always been by introducing ‘Pairs’. Human brain can compare two things very easily but when the number increases to 3, things start to get complicated. Also, introducing a definition and giving an example is always a good start when introducing a new concept, but in order to solidify it, we need to compare it with a similar thing. This is how our brain works. It ‘compares’.
Some of the good ‘comparative pairs’ can be listed as follows:
- Present Perfect – Past Simple
- Present Perfect- Present Perfect Continuous
- Past Simple – Past Perfect
- Past Perfect – Past Perfect Continuous
- will – going to
- do – go (do yoga – go running)
- gerund – infinitive
- when – while
- if – unless
- although/even though – Despite/in spite of
- passives with one object, passives with more than one object
- 1st conditional – zero conditional difference
- 1st conditional – 2nd conditional difference
- 2nd conditional – 3rd conditional difference
- Moreover/Besides – However/Nonetheless
How to Teach With Comparative Pairs
When you present two familiar concepts next to each other and compare them, this will create a reference point, which will make the learner’s brain make correlations and learn the concept more quickly.
Let me give you some examples that I prepared myself:
How to Learn Irregular Verbs and Phrasal Verbs
- Technique for Irregular Verbs:
English learners need to memorize irregular verbs’ present (V1), past (V2) and past participle (V3) forms. My piece of advice is to study the similar looking/sounding ones together. Here is an example:
2. Technique for Phrasal Verbs:
Again, studying them in similar meaning groups will help you to remember when you use them in a sentence. Unfortunately, not all the phrasal verbs make sense in terms of the meaning of the preposition, but, most of them do 🙂
I hope you find these techniques helpful! Please share your opinions in the comment section. If you want me to put more interesting ideas up, please let me know.