Teach English in ChengguAn Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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In the classroom, students may face challanges, especially when learning a new language. These problems may sometimes go unnoticed, and can frustrate students and teachers alike. We shall have a look at some learning difficulties students may have in the classroom, and a few ideas on how to overcome them. Learning difficulties occur when learners have problems with receiving and processing information. These should not be confused with learning disabilities, but learning difficulties can develop into disabilities. Sometimes, learning difficulties may have nothing to do with the student's intelligence level, and may be due to external or internal factors. Firstly, the learner's language may be significantly different from the English language, and students may not only need to learn a new way of speaking, but a new way of writing as well, from the basics such as the English alphabet. Both receptive (reading and listening) and productive (speaking and writing) skills have to be adjusted to the new language. This may lead to challenges with comprehension when reading a text or listening to an audio recording, pronunciation when speaking and spelling when writing. It is important to note that, while there are some learning difficulties caused by disorders or disabilities, some challenges can be overcome if teachers pay attention to the fact that students have to learn a whole new way of communication, and the peculiarities of the English language can further complicate the learning process. Two words may sound the same, but have completely different spellings and meanings (for example knead and need), while other words may be spelt differently from how they are pronounced. This may confuse students, especially in the early stages of English language learning, as their inclination will probably be to write words phonetically. Another challenge learners may face occurs outside the classroom, where students may encounter English speakers and try to interact with them. Other people's use of slang and colloquialism can prevent students from fully practising their skills if they are not aware of the meaning of the terms used. Students may also find themselves using informal language or slang in formal situations. When it comes to writing, the teacher should always monitor how the students write so as to avoid misunderstandings when someone reads their work. The aim is not to get students to write perfectly, but neatly and legibly. Teachers need to exercise a lot of patience here, especially with students who's first language isn't written using the Roman alphabet, as it could take learners a while to have a satisfactory handwriting. There are no shortcuts to a good handwriting, therefore the teacher must dedicate enough time towards helping students practice and improve their handwriting. Spelling is also a key issue for students when writing, and teachers need to make it clear the differences between how words are written versus how they are pronounced. Phonetic writing, as mentioned before, will probably be what students resort to, and this is understandable, considering how many different ways similarly sounding words can be spelt. However, learners need to be made aware of such differences from the onset, so that the phonetic spellings do not become engrained in their minds. There are a few ways through which teachers can help students overcome the learning difficulties mentioned above. Communicative language is vital, especially for non-natives looking to learn or work in anglophone countries, and English, as with any language, requires a lot of practice outside the classroom. However, if students are not living in an anglophone area, the teacher will have to be a perfect language model for students. Drilling exercises can help learners improve pronunciation, but the teacher may not be able to get every student to say each word individually. It could be useful therefore, to prompt dialogue among the students after the drilling exercise, be it through group or pair work so that they're exposed to the correct pronunciation of words. In order to find specific difficulties that certain students may have, teachers may have to conduct a diagnostic test to determine the areas that are most challenging for them. A diagnostic test should cover listening, speaking, writing and reading sections in order for the teacher to have a full scope of the challenges learners may be having. If all avenues at the teacher's disposal have been tried and failed to help a learner overcome their learning difficulties, it may be helpful to get a professional to evaluate the student (with the student's or guardians' permission, depending on age and school procedure) as the student may have developed or been born with a learning disability if they continually have problems with memorising things, following directions, staying focused or have poor social skills for example. Such issues could point to a learning disorder or disability which cannot be resolved with merely giving extra attention and patience on the teacher's part. While learning a new language, students may encounter a number of problems, be it with reading, writing and spelling ,speaking or listening skills, or a combination of two or more skills. This can demotivate the students and slow down progress in the classroom, and can even lead to students developing learning disorders or disabilities in some instances. It is therefore necessary for the teacher to take steps to address any learning difficulties that students may have from the start in order to boost the learners' confidence, increase productivity and thus improve both the learning and teaching experience.(903 words) References https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/detecting-learning-disabilities https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/diagnoses/learning-difficulties/ https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/59495-The-problems-that-are-faced-by-non-native-speakers-of-English https://omniglot.com/language/articles/englishlearningchallenges.htm