English as Second Language Teaching Theories and Principles

One of the most important aims of an ESL classroom is to create a learning atmosphere that distinguishes students’ various cultures in a momentous way. A student from an ESL classroom gets an opportunity to embrace and comprehend new culture while celebrating his/her existing culture. Today, studies prove that large numbers of adult teachers enter the profession of ESL teachers without proper awareness about teaching and learning theories. Principles of Behaviorism, Cognitive Psychology and Social Constructivist theory are the major teaching and learning theories for elementary classrooms. Behaviorist approach gives more emphasis on drills and trials. For the effective understanding of a foreign language, an ESL learner requires language exercises and games. Each and every teacher has his/her own teaching style and techniques which are based on the principles of his/her life’s philosophy. The journal article entitled ’the importance of theory to practice in ESL teaching’ by Jubi Williams gives relevant information about the implementation of teaching theories in a classroom: “The first step in this self-assessment process is to understand and state one’s own philosophy of education.” (Williams, 4).

Cognitive psychologists encourage exercises in the classroom. Exact cognitive development is possible through practices. Language projects and group discussions help an ESL student to overcome the difficulties of new language and culture.

Through contextual learning, an ESL teacher can create opportunities for his/her students to practice new language in an explicit life context. Exponents of Social Constructivism underline the use of classroom interaction and knowledge construction. In an ESL classroom, students come from different socio-economic backgrounds. An effective teacher should have the ability to find out the needs and problems of the students. Cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget contributes various learning and teaching theories for children, such as assimilation, accommodation, schemas etc. A teacher in an ESL classroom should concentrate on the learner’s external behavior and appearances. Correct responses are rewarded and wrong ones are punished. Teaching theories provide numerous help for teachers, especially beginners for constructing lesson plans, designing classroom activities, and proper evaluation in an ESL classroom. The principles of multicultural education provide innovative ideas and information for teachers to improve their teaching career. In an ESL classroom, students have the problem of language acquisition. Intellectual level of each student is different and the teacher has a serious job to make the students ready to receive knowledge. Structured learning/teaching theories are essential for a classroom. The web article named ‘Seed-germination teaching and learning theory net-distribution tissue methods’ remarks: “The process of teaching and learning needs to know students’ backgrounds, their knowledge, their interest, their ability, in a word, their tissue.” (Seed-Germination Teaching and Learning Theory Net-Distribution Tissue Methods, 107). An innovative teacher of an ESL classroom should know his/her students’ physical backgrounds, interests, and abilities. This is essential for preparing the classroom activities. Various teaching theories help the teacher to become an effective teacher.

In the case of an ESL teacher, classroom interaction is more important than any other activities. Knowledge is acquired through the course of constructing lesson plans. Organization of teaching materials, structuring of their lectures, pushing the students to a profound understanding are essential for an ESL teacher.

To conclude, the aim of an ESL teacher is to create a good learning environment which promotes student’s individual thinking, concept formation, and mental and physical developments. For that, teaching theories and principles are essential for an ESL teacher.

Works Cited

Seed-Germination Teaching and Learning Theory Net-Distribution Tissue Methods: Interaction. The China Papers. 2003. 2009. Web.

Williams, Jubi. The Importance of Theory to Practice in ESL Teaching: Applying Theory. Pennsylvania Able: Field Notes for Able Staff. 2007. Web.

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