10 Ways to Teach English to Your Spanish-Speaking Students
Do you need to know how to teach English to Spanish speakers? This post gives you 10 answers to that question. These language methods are an assistance not only to Spanish-speaking students but also to teachers.
So, if you’re asking yourself how to teach English as a second language, this article is ideal for you. Read on to discover the most common missteps that Spanish speakers take when learning English and how to help them out in the process.
¡Descubramos cómo enseñar inglés a hispanoparlantes!
Let’s discover how to teach English to Spanish speakers!
How to Teach English to Spanish Speakers
Check out these 10 tips which apply to Spanish-speaking children learning English.
1. Language Immersion
So, how do you teach English to Spanish-speaking children? The best way is through language immersion. This method may be extreme, but it is the fastest way to gain confidence learning a new language.
Language immersion is a technique similar to the ones we all used when learning our native language: by being exposed to it constantly. If everything you listen to, read, and write is English—in this case— eventually, you will start to pick up words and contextualize them.
You will experience conversations instead of merely memorizing words. Learning to speak English with language immersion also gives your students the self-confidence they need to participate.
There are many benefits to this language method. To learn more about it, read How Spanish Immersion Is the Answer You’re Looking For!
2. Learn Their Language First
Is it possible to teach ESL without using the student’s native language?Yes, but it will take a lot more time for you and effort for them. Learning Spanish before teaching students English may seem like it requires too much effort, but it will give you a common ground to start from. The students will appreciate it, and you’ll make a faster and better connection with them.
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3. Teach Them Words They Already Know
Is English difficult to learn for Spanish speakers? Somewhat. While it’s easier due to the simplicity of verb conjugations, it is also challenging in terms of sentence structure and non-phonetic pronunciation.
Why not teach your students some words they already know to get started and to give their self-confidence a boost? In the process of learning how to teach English to Spanish speakers, you’ll learn to start with the easy parts.
Vocabulary lessons can start with cognates—words that are similar or even identical in both languages. For example, adorable, flexible, correct, product, difference, and academic. Your students will benefit from a basic pronunciation lesson. Check out these handy word lists and Rules According to Word Ending.
4. Teach Them the Similarities and Differences in Structure
Now that they know that Spanish and English are similar in many ways, show your students how they’re different. Here are a couple of examples:
a) The structure in adjectives is reversed. While in Spanish, the adjective goes after the subject, in English, i’is the other way around:
El conejo blanco
The white rabbit
b) In Spanish, we use a lot of possessives and prepositional phrases.
For example, the English sentence, “We might have to go outside to see the artwork from last week” has the following literal Spanish translation:
Es posible que tengamos que salir a ver las obras de arte que se hicieron la semana pasada.
It is possible that we have to go outside to see the artwork that was done last week.
5. Make Your Students the Teachers
Learn how to teach English to Spanish speakers by making them the teachers! Give your students lessons about word confusion when translating Spanish to English and then give them fake tests for them to correct.
Some examples of how we express ourselves in Spanish that are incorrect in English are:
In Spanish: She introduced the needle slowly.
In English: She inserted the needle slowly.
In Spanish: Let me tell you this history.
In English: Let me tell you this story.
In Spanish: I love that library!
In English I love that bookstore!
6. Pronunciation and Rhythm
Spanish words are pronounced exactly as written. When my favorite teacher was learning how to teach English to Spanish speakers, she told us to take a napkin and to put it in front of our mouths when we spoke Spanish. It didn’t move. But while pronouncing English correctly, it did. Try this exercise with students in your classroom.
Rhythm is another difference between the two languages. English rhythm depends on stress and Spanish on syllables.
Also, some word endings are difficult for native Spanish speakers. See this list of Commonly Mispronounced Words for English Language Learners.
7. Teach Phrasal Verbs
Although phrasal verbs exist in Spanish, we don’t use them as often as English speakers do. When they taught us sentence structure at school, teachers divided it into words not phrases. So the concept of phrasal verbs is not something we are aware about.
8. Watch Educational Movies with Subtitles
Have your students watch a movie, listen to it in English, and read the English subtitles. After it ends, have a conversation with them about the film content. Have them write about their favorite part or summarize the movie, as well.
The movie or show doesn’t have to be complex—it could even be about colors. Start with subtitles in Spanish as a first step so your students will relate the word in English to the one in the subtitles in Spanish.
9. Promote Parent Involvement
Are you teaching ESL to students with Spanish-speaking Hispanic parents? Try involving them with occasional family reading events and encourage the parents to help their kids with the subjects they struggle with the most.
10. Keep Them Talking
The most important part of this learning process is that the kids feel comfortable speaking English and making connections with the teacher and other students. This mixes well with the fact that Hispanics are typically talkative and joyful. We like to share anecdotes, experiences, and stories.
When your students discover that they can communicate their thoughts, they’ll feel reassured and start participating more.
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