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Teaching beginner students An almost natural first reaction to most teachers on teaching english to beginners would be that it?s a difficult task. This reaction is understandable considering the many obstacles that one will encounter when teaching a whole new set of language to students who for example have only known their mother tongue language for the past 30 years. However, big challenges obviously comes with big achievements and this is also why it?s not surprising that many teachers who have been exposed to teaching beginners, eventually find themselves growing very attached to their students as they witness their development and progress. I personally would very much prefer to teach beginners especially in a country where english is a second language to the locals because normally in such countries for instance thailand, Cambodia and vietnam, having the english language ability can have a direct relationship in improving one?s life such as a more promising job prospects. The term ?beginner? in the Teaching english as a Foreign Language context is broken down into a few categories and it is important and beneficial for both the teacher and students to identify these categories at the first few lessons of the entire course. These categories start with firstly the absolute beginner. These students basically have zero knowledge on the english language. Absolute beginners are usually young learners but in some cases, can also be working adults. For young absolute beginners, it is important to keep lessons fun to stimulate their curiosity and varied as they tend to have shorter attention span. Teaching older absolute beginners will require a different approach as they will probably have different objectives such as learning specific words and greetings for work-related purposes. Time factor is also taken into consideration here. The second category will be the false beginner. Students here may have studied or been exposed to english previously but have not retained much language. They will probably be able to produce a few simple structures. Although this category of beginners may be easier to teach, but may still be necessary to go back to the basics. As such, teachers should be using different evaluation tools such as questionnaires, diagnostic tests etc. to find out students? level at the beginning so as to prepare lessons appropriately. In this category, constant reviewing, practicing and homework are essential. The third category identifies beginner as adults or young ones ranging from ten years old and above. This group usually has different needs based on their age. Adult beginner could be learning english as a requirement of their company for work-related purposes. Motivation level varies depending on their reason for learning but most of the time they would have made their own decision to pursue english language learning and therefore motivation level will be relatively high. Young beginners tend to pick language up far more easily than their adult equivalents but their motivation level is usually low. The reason being they haven?t usually made the choice to study or they do not see the benefit of learning the language. The role of a teacher in teaching adult beginners will take on a less active role compared to teaching young beginners. The reason is because adult beginners have more specific needs and normally the teacher role is to supply for what they require, even though at times, the teacher do need to go back to some basics in order to deliver the correct understanding. The teacher will require a different teaching approach for young learners. More effort will be required to get students engaged in topics for discussion due to interest level. It will be effective for teachers to choose topics that this group of students can highly relate to so as to arouse their interest. Using a variety of activities will be effective in helping young learners to create lasting impression and retain information in a faster way. The last group of beginners to identify will be the beginners without roman alphabets. In some countries such as thailand, roman alphabets are not used in the native language, as such, having to recognize words and remember spelling will no doubt be a problem. In such classes, students will need a lot of initial work on basic literacy skills. Teacher will need to expose students to many reading and writing activities. Even though the course work did an excellent job of categorizing beginners into different categories for easy understanding of new teachers, it should be noted that no category are mutually exclusive. This is especially true when teaching private language classes, where one class can have a mix of false and adult beginners. All in all, there are some common grounds to teaching beginners regardless of which category they are in. Teachers should always display patience and understanding towards their students. A good teacher will also take the effort to educate himself/herself on the students? cultural background. This is especially essential when teaching a multilingual class. It is also worthwhile spending time to build rapport between teachers and students as well as among students in a classroom so as to encourage students to ask questions and speak in front of the class. In addition, a well-paced lesson as well as good planning and teacher?s flexibility are also important in teaching any class. With all these in place, it will create an intimate learning environment, one which will boost students? confidence and allow them to optimize their learning path. As mentioned, teaching beginners should be taken up as challenge and new teachers should be more than welcome to accept such challenge. Sources: ITTT Unit 19. http://esl.about.com/od/teachingbeginners/.