Here at Optimus our adult ESL classes are designed to help our students become proficient in conversational English. We do teach them technical things like Grammar, vocabulary, and writing, but the primary objective of the class is to help them better speak and understand English.
The reason we teach this way is that we believe this is what the students most need. Many of them have already taken English courses in their native countries and know the basics of grammar. In addition, most of them desire to learn English because they want to live competently in America. Understanding every grammatical rule is not necessary for this end. For example, many native speakers actually know less Grammar than some of the ESL students do and they get along just fine. It is much more valuable to teach our students how to listen and speak. These are the skills that will help them live comfortably and successfully in this country.
We have a few different policies that help us teach in this way. The most important one is our 70/30 policy. Our ESL teachers are asked to only speak 30% of class time. The remaining 70% of speaking should be done by the students. This, obviously, has the students speaking and listening to each other, which are the skills we are looking to develop. Another helpful policy is our correction policy. When students speak they make many mistakes. However, we do not correct all of them so as not to discourage them from speaking again. We typically correct the most frequent and most glaring mistakes, and we do so by repeating correctly what the student said. For example, if a student says, "It cold this morning," the instructor might reply, "Yes, it IS cold this morning." This allows the student to hear what they did wrong without being too critical or embarrassing them. These policies, among others, help create an environment in which are student quickly progress in conversational English.
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