It’s Time for Language Learning to Embrace Individualized Instruction

students in college lecture hall

We know from copious amounts of research that instruction works best when it is personal. Yet daunted at the prospect of sorting this out, many language programs revert to the outdated approach of just assigning everyone the same thing. However, maybe incorporating individualized instruction into a group curriculum isn’t as hard as it might seem.

Immigrants’ Top 10 Language Learning Needs: One Size Does Not Fit All

globe on desk

There are over 43 million immigrants in the U.S., and more than 20 million are adults who are what’s called “Limited English Proficient,” or LEP. This means that on top of all the struggles they face to provide for themselves and their families, they have a huge and staggering additional barrier–not understanding English. Yet our ESL programs often don’t address the multitude of needs of this population in solving the real-world problems they face in their daily lives.

Why Authentic Content Is Important

man ordering at coffee shop

Authentic content gives learners exposure to the kind of language that they ultimately want to understand and create for themselves. If you don’t use authentic content, and teach learners with scripted dialogs or simplified materials written by language teachers, you’re not giving them models for how to produce or understand the language they’ll encounter in the wild. Not only is this ineffective, it’s also inefficient.

Five English Lesson Ideas Based on Authentic, Real-World Content

lightbulbs in a line

We know that using authentic content is important in English language instruction, and there are dozens of ways to do it, from having students write Yelp reviews to watching YouTube videos. However, the bigger question is how to use authentic content in a way that is needs-based, personalized, and relevant.

Eliminating the Foreign Language Requirement

In the U.S., we force students to sit through mind-numbing grammar lessons and stilted dialogues, leaving them unable to order coffee at a French bistro. But that doesn’t mean we should eliminate language instruction. It’s incredibly important for everyone to speak more than one language in today’s interconnected world.