Teach English in Wusutu Zhen - Wulanchabu Shi — Ulanqab

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There are some key differences in teaching monolingual and multilingual groups. In a monolingual class, all students share the same first language (L1) and also the same culture to a large extent. The classes normally take place in the learners' home country whereas multilingual groups are mainly found in English-speaking countries where the students live or have come to improve their language skills. Multilingual groups comprise students from a variety of home countries and cultural backgrounds which means that they have no common language other than English and speak a wide range of different first languages. The fact that all students in a monolingual class speak the same first language has certain advantages for both the teacher and the students themselves. As all the students are likely to face very similar difficulties with the English language, conditioned by their shared first language, the teacher is more easily able to anticipate their problem areas and can dedicate the necessary time and attention to them, such as pronunciation issues, spelling, grammar points, layout, etc. The students' shared background also makes it less difficult to find teaching materials and topics that are interesting to everyone. Furthermore, the teacher is faced with less diverse cultural expectations which affect students' understanding of the very role of the teacher, teaching standards and what may be considered culturally offensive in a classroom environment. Additionally, for example in a business environment, a shared language can be used as an aid to help accurately understand some complex business terminology. The very fact of students sharing a common language comes with its obvious drawbacks too. Rather than try to communicate in English, there are many situations when students prefer to speak their own language or inadvertently revert to it. This is after all completely natural, as in a way, speaking English to someone who shares your mother tongue, does not come naturally and communicating in English with one another may seem simply unnatural or even plainly artificial. Therefore it is important for the teacher to explain the importance of speaking English only in the classroom to students from the beginning, preferably on day one, and give them a reason to communicate in English. In particular students of Business English, who tend to be highly motivated, are likely to immediately understand the rationale and benefit. Especially with beginners, it helps to keep activities task-oriented, short and simple and first of all, ensure that they actually have the English to carry out the expected tasks. Students in a multilingual classroom speak a wide variety of first languages and therefore they automatically use English as their lingua franca when communicating with each other or with the teacher. This exponentially increases their use of English which is great practice for the students even if some of them may be initially shy. Therefore it is important for the teacher to make everyone feel at ease and be encouraging. As most multilingual classes take place in English-speaking countries, students are exposed to English in their everyday life out of class as well, which means that they learn far quicker and have a wealth of opportunities to develop their language skills in different situations. This all enhances their overall motivation and makes learning more relevant and enjoyable. Due to their different first languages, students in a multilingual classroom tend to make very different mistakes, for example in pronunciation, spelling and structure. Often, it is very difficult for the teacher to anticipate and prepare for the issues different students are encountering and obviously it is not possible to pay particular attention to the issues of any individual student during the class. Furthermore, students have different learning habits and styles influenced by their background and their learning speed may vary significantly. Due to the certain similarity of their own first language, for example Swedish students have an obvious advantage over Japanese, Thai or Arabic students who even use a different alphabet. Pair and group work should be encouraged so that students from different countries can feel comfortable and learn from each other. The many different countries and backgrounds mean that they will always have a lot of interesting topics! Both monolingual and multilingual classes have their own advantages and disadvantages and both of them can be very successful with the right attitude and patience. It is also important to bear in mind that the division is not always completely clear-cut. For example, an internationally operating company in Spain may have a fair number of foreign employees who only speak Spanish to varying degrees of fluency. When teaching English in such a company, the teacher would also be faced with some of the issues common in multilingual classes due to the mother tongue of some of the employees. All in all, as a teacher it is worth trying both options, teaching monolingual and multilingual groups, and find out what works best for you and produces the best results for your students.