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Discover How To Appeal To Your ESL Students' Learning Styles
Learning English as a second or foreign language can be
difficult for some students. There are several different
ways to learn, and many people benefit from a wider
approach than the traditional methods employed in most
classrooms. Adding games and activities that appeal to all
the different ESL learning styles along with your standard
curriculum can transform your lessons and make the time
more productive for all!
Most authorities in the field of learning styles agree
there are four basic ways people take in and process
information. These are known as the four learning styles
and consist of Auditory ESL Learners(students who respond
best to lectures, tapes and verbal instructions), Visual
ESL Learners (students who benefit from more traditional
methods such as written material, pictures and video), and
Tactile and Kinesthetic ESL Learners (treated together here
as their styles involve either hands- on or whole body
Many of the following games can easily be implemented in
your classroom and adapted to best suit the ESL learning
styles of any or all of your students.
AUDITORY ESL LEARNING STYLE
These ESL students will enjoy verbal games in a group
setting; introducing repetitive chants using previously
demonstrated words is a good way to start. EFL learners
from Japan particularly appreciate Karaoke Night as a
learning tool and this can be a fun idea for marking
milestones as your class advances.
After a group activity, students can retire to separate
listening stations for a Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt;
multiple tapes with different key vocabulary words can be
rotated to increase the number of words each student
learns. Cloze Passages can be used with tapes as well to
enhance the lesson's effect.
Quizzes are a fun way to encourage a mild spirit of
competition in your classroom; you can divide the students
into teams and allow them to confer with each other to find
the answers. Listen to a taped TV or radio broadcast and
have them take turns answering questions about the content
- you may be surprised at how well they pick up on the
VISUAL ESL LEARNING STYLE
These students can absorb information from common classroom
tools such as books, flash cards, and video footage. Many
language games work well with this type of student, and
worksheets are a must - they will retain more from reading
material than from verbal instruction.
Board games such as 'Parts of Speech Path Finding' (based
on the Candy Land Board) are easy to laminate onto a manila
folder, and the game accessories can be kept in an attached
baggie. You can use color and images to make your board
interesting, but remember your adult students may be turned
off by a childish motif!
You can adapt Jeopardy and other popular games to use
picture prompts. Current entertainment and media events can
often be humorously discussed, and provide a real world
aspect that will help students take their English skills
outside the classroom.
Reading is of course expected from all students, and Ten
Important Sentences with Watermelon is an excellent game to
promote teambuilding, working under pressure, and
summarizing. This is a game that crosses over to appeal to
Tactile learners as well, as teams send representatives to
put sentences in order.
TACTILE and KINESTHETIC ESL LEARNING STYLE
These students make up the last two types of learning
styles. Tactile learner projects focus more on model
building and crafts. Games for the Kinesthetic learner
include group participation and physical use of the whole
body. Activities originally developed for these learning
styles have been discovered to assist all types of ESL
learners, which is encouraging news for those trying to
introduce new elements into their classrooms!
A good vocabulary game with a strong tactile element to
appeal to this learning style is the old 'items in a bag'
game. Students can describe the items by feel and the class
can venture guesses as to their identity. Be prepared, this
game can cause a degree of hilarity as students grope for
words to clue their classmates in!
Spatial games involve rearranging items (a tactile
variation) or people (a kinesthetic approach). Population
Punctuation can be played by handing out cards with words
and punctuation marks to all but one class member who is
designated as 'it' This student then tries to make a proper
sentence complete with punctuation by lining up as many
people as possible.
Crafts and model building sets are invaluable as they
combine auditory or visual elements with the tactile as
students read or hear project instructions. Investing in an
extensive Legos set will prove well worth it! Brightly
colored pencils are another fun way for the students to
proclaim their individuality as they follow directions for
drawing or labeling maps.
Variety can bring success to your classrooms and help all
of your ESL class members to broaden their learning styles.
Games that make learning fun are a great way to foster
independent thinking patterns, and create a relaxed,
creative atmosphere where every student can find the tools
they need for success!
Shelley Vernon has helped 1000s of teachers be an
inspiration to their pupils and achieve results 2x as fast.
Improve the effectiveness of your lessons by up to 80%.
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