As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
ELL Teaching Tip #42: Teach Verb Conjugations
My oldest son is going to school in French and Arabic, and he spends long hours memorizing verb conjugations. (And I do mean long hours, in and out of class, in third grade!) While this seems excessive to us (or at least to me), it is done because verb conjugations in both of these languages are complex and difficult and are required for students to be able to speak and write correctly in these languages. In English, we tend to gloss over verb conjugations because there is so little to them. However, our language learners often have a hard time with verbs for two reasons:
1.) In their heads, they have 5 or 6 different words for a verb and so they expect there to be 5 or 6 different words in English to correspond to the words they have, even when there is just one.
2.) Different languages conjugate verbs differently for male and female and place a male or female tag onto inanimate objects. Many English Language Learners then expect this to carry over to English and can’t figure out why the eraser isn’t a “she” and why the verb for “falls” doesn’t change because of this fact.
Now, I don’t suggest spending hours memorizing English verb conjugations, but I do spend time conjugating English verbs so that they can see the similarities and the differences. I also point out the similarities and differences that I know and encourage my students to find as many similarities and differences as they can, so that they will cement in their minds. My students show those differences by filling out on a sheet that shows 1.) the connection between the past, present and future tenses and 2.) allows them to compare the conjugations of these verbs in their home language and in English. You can download this sheet free from Google Docs if you would like to use it with your class.
How do you work on verb conjugations with your English Language Learners?
Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just $3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.
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