Teaching ESL to Students from Day One; a Workshop

A short workshop in holistic/non-translation techniques for teachers, to bring beginning and more advanced ESL learners to functional levels in English, without textbooks, or use of native languages.

Suggested prerequisite: "A Short Workshop in Applied Phonology." Contact me for more information.

Introduction: The quickest way to drive an ESL teacher to a total sense of frustration, is for the teacher to walk into a class, introduce him/herself, and get responses in three or four languages, which the teacher either doesn't know, or has been asked by the administration not to use. The most comfortable methodology for many instructors, is to have the students open their textbooks to a certain page and read out loud. I have been offering bribes to teachers for many years, if they could give me one GOOD reason to have students read out loud, unless they plan to be radio announcers or preachers. So far, I haven't heard a satisfactory reason. Most of them either respond, "to check their reading ability" or "to check their pronunciation." The ability to read out loud does not indicate reading ability. Reading is something normally done alone, to assimilate information. I can read several languages out loud and have no vague idea what I'm saying. English spelling is farther from the spoken language than any language with which I have had contact.

The pronunciations of "through, rough, and sought" have little to do with their spelling, which reflects the complex history of English, rather than its phonology. Millions of dollars are spent all over the world every year to educate teachers on language acquisition. However, many of the graduates of these programs are still not quite sure what to DO. I am not an educator. I am a trainer. I do not spend years teaching my students "bicycle engineering" and then have them fall off, when they finally get on a bike. I teach my students how to ride a bicycle. If they want to know how bicycles stay vertical, then they should study bicycle engineering. Language training is really no different from any other skill-based training. Many persons in the academic community, with their serious efforts to do research and publish their results in prestigious journals, will disagree with me. Some of these scholars even say, "teachers don't teach, however learners learn." I have cheated for decades. I teach.

I started teaching English to speakers of other languages in 1961, because I needed a job. Now it's what makes me happiest. I have been involved in many aspects of this field since that time. I have seen a multitude of methods and techniques come and go, often based on the latest theories to come out of the academic community. However, all along I have noticed that some teachers consistently get results and that others sometimes get results. I have been watching and listening to really effective ESL instructors for a long time and find that they are different in one way. They are performance oriented and are most interested in giving their students the creative-performance tools with which they can truly become functional in English. They are less inclined to stuff their students with information about the language. During my long career in ESL I have had teaching, management, administrative, consulting and advisory jobs in several countries.

I have trained teachers, written textbooks and worked with students with over 60 different language backgrounds. I am back to teaching bottom level ESL classes and continuing to learn what works, from my students. I can train other teachers in one morning on how to get away from some of the ruts they may be in and get their students to a certain level of what I call "automaticity," rather than dwelling too much on what they are about to say and having to translate it first in their minds. If you want to learn what to do the first hour, the third day, and the first month, contact me and we can arrange a workshop to show some of the simple tricks that seem to cause language to happen. I will teach you how to make a "bag of tricks," that will teach listening and speaking and structural skills. I will show you how to give your students "the best listening skills in the West." None of this is that difficult to do if you are willing to relinquish a little of the methodology that may have been tried on you, when you studied French, semi-successfully.

There are people all over the world who have studied English and other languages for years and who still can't communicate. We can fix that. The cost of this four-hour workshop will be in line with current trainer/consultant rates paid by the Texas Education Agency for similar workshops, plus transportation and housing when appropriate. I have recently developed a textbook for this workshop. It will be provided for workshop participants at production and printing cost. It is the "ESL Criteria Performance Measure (ESLCPM)." It is coil bound and contains an Instructor Guide, a Performance Measurement Form and an Instructor Manual. The performance measurement system is based on measurements of the accomplishment of twenty-key classroom skills that lead to faster and better language acquisition. It is based on the belief that language process is as important as language content. The Instructor Manual contains numerous exercises that can be copied and used in the classroom, including a release for their duplication. All of these materials have been successfully used in adult education classrooms in recent years. This system in no way interferes with mandated final objectives, but instead accelerates them, by getting your students to start thinking in English.

Theodore A. (Ted) Klein, Jr.