The First Day with Adult True Beginners- The Alphabet Teaching adult true beginners from day


Teaching adult true beginners from day one is an interesting challenge and requires a strategy which must be formulated in advance. Do you begin with phonics' Can you start with rote memorization' How can you approach people with different learning styles' What has been the students experience in school previously' There are many considerations but in the end a good plan smoothes the way to the first day. When teaching the alphabet the issue of using phonics comes to the forefront. Many programs use a system of phonics instruction along with grammar and vocabulary topics. Teaching the sounds rather than the letter names per say has advantages and disadvantages. The learner will make more progress in speaking skills when he starts by learning the sounds. He will be able to imitate words and phrases more easily. Beginning with the names of the letters will help students in the future with skills such as using the dictionary and more advanced writing requirements. It may be wise to begin with a mixed approach where the alphabet is taught as a series of 26 letters by name and the beginning phonics is added to teach a set of corresponding sounds. (Possibly with a set of native language cues in a monolingual setting) 1, 2 Memorization is essential in a language program. With true beginners all the basic material must be memorized to build a foundation upon which language skills can grow. Adult learners need even more repetition to imbed the information in their minds. Learning the alphabet in order, as well as letter names and sounds will be the basis of the first day's memorization. 1, 3, 4 Learning styles and multiple intelligences are fields of study themselves but do apply to teaching. In brief, the teaching style used in the first days need to be varied in order to effectively reach each kind of learner. Using action activities, music, art, pair work, etc. will engage a variety of students and enhance the learning experience as well as the amount of the lesson retained. The multiplicity of activities will help students develop in areas where they may be weak as well as enhance areas of their strengths. The theory of multiple intelligences is worth investigating for anyone who wishes to improve their teaching. 5 Adult learners come into the classroom with a set of experiences from their previous educational situations. They also have a conditional response to learning, expectations of themselves and the teacher, and assumptions from their worldview that they bring with them to the lesson. It is one of the responsibilities of the teacher to bring the students to the material. Knowing the students and their educational system helps you to know how to motivate and hold the students attention. As a teacher of adult true beginners you have the opportunity to use their past experiences to best advantage. If they are good memorizers then use memory games to increase their confidence and enjoyment at the same time. If they are good story tellers then increase the amount of speaking exercises to take advantage of this skill. The past can enhance the present if approached in a positive way. 6 The first day of class can be the beginning of a great year! When approached with a plan of how the alphabet will be taught, the students will receive maximum benefit. Memorizing the letters and using basic phonetic sounds will form the basis for both productive and receptive skills. Using a wide variety of activities will enhance the learning experience of a range of learning styles and intelligences. Previous experiences of the students can be used to their advantage by a sensitive teacher. All this leads to a rewarding and successful first day with the alphabet.

Bibliography 1 Wiley, Kay, Fast Track Phonics, New York, Longman, 2002 by Pearson Education 2 Orion, Gertrude F., Pronouncing American English: Sounds, Stress, and Intonation, 1988, Boston, Heinle & Heinle Publishers

3 Rost, Michael, Basics in Speaking, Hong Kong, Longman, 1998 by Pearson Education

4 Rost, Michael and Uruno, Munetsugu, Basics in Listening, Singapore, Longman, 1995 by Pearson Education

5 Viens, Julie and Kallenbach, Silja,Multiple Intelligences and Adult Literacy, New York, Teachers College Press, 2004

6 International TEFL Teacher Training On line course, www.http teflonline.net