The trend in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is no longer to mimic native speakers but to produce fully competent English-speaking interlocutors. Thus, ESL teachers who want to stay current and in demand must continue enhancing their adeptness at employing effective methodologies to create an engaging and relevant classroom experience for their students.

TalkShop Founder Dr. Sheila Viesca states, “It is increasingly being recognized that the teachers’ effectiveness in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is determined by their adeptness at using a variety of relevant methodologies together with their linguistic, teaching, and intercultural competence rather than their being a native speaker of English.”

Here are five of the most conventional yet still popular TESL methods:

1) Grammatical Approach

English grammar rules are taught conceptually in the student’s native language, with examples provided in simple English sentences that the teacher can translate back to the student’s native tongue so that a solid parallel can be drawn. This approach is best for students who speak a native language with a set of grammar rules different from English.  This approach works best if the instructor speaks the first language of the students in addition to English, because much of it is based on the teacher’s ability to translate.

2)  Aural Approach

The most natural way to learn a language is to hear it. The actual method involves a dialogue where the student is mostly spoken to.  Then, the student is instructed to speak the words themselves, in the process decoding vocabulary and basic grammar through hearing and speaking. This is an approach best used for younger students or students whose first language is of a writing system dissimilar to English, such as Mandarin or Arabic.

3)  English-only Approach

Neither the teacher nor the student speaks each others’ native tongue during instruction. All instruction should be done in English only.
Vocabulary is taught first. Then, the instructor begins introducing abstract words and elements of the language, but without explaining or focusing on the actual grammatical structure.

The complexities of the language will be learned inherently, with the student picking up on its patterns through practice and application only.
It is an ideal method for situations where there is a diverse set of students who do not speak the same native language, all trying to learn English. With this method, the barriers and constraints brought about by an inability to communicate natively can be minimized, and a stronger focus on the English language can be fortified.

4)  Translative Approach

This approach must be taught by an instructor who speaks the same language as their students, and all the students also share a fluency in the same language. This method will make strong use of notecards, where students can write English vocabulary and grammar concepts on one side, and then translate the word or idea on the back in their native language.  This rigorous approach is best for students who are interested in learning English because of an academic interest in the language.

5)  Immersive Approach

Using English through pure immersion and necessity is one of the best ways to learn it quickly.  The student of English is surrounded by forms of media using English and people who speak English in their daily interaction.  This is best for those who can travel to English-speaking territories and stay there long enough to develop a stronger sense of the language.

Each of these methodologies correspond to many different activities which
ESL teachers can employ to guide and inspire students to optimize the results of their language learning.


Dr. Viesca adds, “The right methodology must be carefully chosen according to the learner’s specific objectives and learning needs, learning style and context.   When the method or combination of which complement appropriate learning activities, meaningful learning experience happens for both teachers and students.”

TESL Philippines partners with TalkShop to respond to the requirements of teachers and professionals who want to be certified in TESL.  TalkShop is the leading communication training institute in the Philippines that offers corporate trainings and personal effectiveness courses for Managers. Educators, and Team Leaders across industries.

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