Published 11th April 2019


As teachers of English as a Foreign Language, it is our goal to help our students learn English. By now you probably realise that we can’t force our students to learn, and that teaching is not the same as learning. No matter how hard we try in the classroom, whether or not our students learn to speak English is up to them. Of course we can do as much as we can to make the classroom the most effective learning environment, but fundamentally it is up to our students to do the hard work.

Identifying good learning strategies

One way we can help our students is to show them the best ways to learn and help them identify good learning strategies that will work for them. Introduce them to these strategies and you should see a marked improvement in their language.

Use spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is a technique which helps you learn and remember vocabulary. How it works is that you learn a word and then you review that word at set intervals over a period of time. For example, a learner must be exposed to a word and focus on the word and learn it on the first day. Then, they must review that word on day three, day seven and so on. The intervals become longer the more often the word is reviewed.

Have a nap

During sleep, our brains move memories from short-term memory to long-term memory. When we study, we are putting the information in our short-term memory. After that it can go one of two ways:  either it will be forgotten, or it will be put in long-term memory. Having a nap after class or studying just before bedtime will help our learners remember the language learnt that day.

Make English friends

Online or in real life, making friends is a sure way to improve our learners’ language skills. Having a friend who doesn’t speak their language means they are forced to speak English in order to communicate. Because they are their friends, they are naturally motivated to speak to them, so they need to use their English. With time, their English will naturally improve.

Use authentic materials

Engaging with authentic materials will help learners not only because they will be exposed to natural language, but because their interest levels will be high. Authentic materials will be more interesting than coursebooks because the learners can choose what they want to read, watch or listen to. They are able to find materials on any topic they find interesting.

Surround yourself with English

Your learners shouldn’t restrict their language learning to the classroom. They need to engage with the language on a daily basis if they want to see an improvement in their language skills. Remind them that learning doesn’t only take place in the classroom but whenever and however they are using English.

Teachers can sometimes forget that learning English takes more effort than just being in our classes. Help your learners by introducing them to these tips and you will see a marked improvement in their language.