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Teachers need to be aware of the differences between EFL (English as a Foreign Language) and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

There are clearly transferrable skills between teaching both subjects, but as ESOL students live and work in the UK: ESOL should be taught as a life skill and not a hobby.

But what are 5 key skills for teaching ESOL students how to speak fluent English?

5 tips to consider when teaching ESOL students

Tip 1: Know your students

ESOL students could come from anywhere and be at any level. Understanding as much as possible about your students, means you are in the best position to meet each student’s needs.

Approaching topics relevant to real-life situations may help pick up understanding.

ESOL students realise that being unable to speak the language may hamper their daily life. Motivation among ESOL students may be very high, and skills may be required to manage students with the highest work ethic and motivation.

Tip 2: Understand cultural issues

The education system in some countries can vary significantly to that in the UK. In some countries, own learning is not something that comes easily, and some students may be solely dependent on learning from the teacher. The tutor can avoid this by utilising monitoring targets. To improve the student’s confidence, it may be worth setting up an initial assessment if they have some understanding of English.

Also, role models in different countries can be quite different – so using celebrities that the student knows who they are is valuable.

Tip 3: Tailor to their needs

Discuss practical skills that the students will require on a daily basis. High levels of grammar aren’t perhaps as important as ordering a taxi or making a payment. Concentrate on real-life subjects such as jobs, money, cars, how to fill in forms and how to make conversation.

The beauty of students being part of the language which they are trying to learn, is that they have access to unlimited amounts of resources to study.

Tip 4: Use lots of visuals

Students will benefit from seeing pictures, videos and real-life examples of the objects and concepts being studied.

Pictures are great at presenting nouns, adjectives and simple sentence patterns. By asking questions like “what do you see?” you can meet all suggestions with positive feedback. Using personal, relatable pictures engages the student.

Tip 5: Encourage confidence

Confidence is key for students trying to learn new languages. By practicing a safe, encouraging learning environment means pupils feel more comfortable making mistakes and learning from feedback.

Try to avoid correcting students in general conversations, instead modelling the correct usage of vocabulary and grammar in a slow and simple manner.

You can read more about supporting ESOL students in the classroom here.

How EDArcade can help with teaching ESOL

EDArcade supports ESOL pupils through games-based learning. The platform features 23 different languages and games which can be changes to any provided language – as well as the conversations and responses.

EDVille is a virtual world of learning, and encourages student responsibility through games-based learning. It is ideal for teaching ESOL students topics including bullying, cooperation and British values. It can be downloaded from IOS and Google Play Store.

You can browse EDArcade on the App Store here.

For more information on EDArcade, call 01909 776 906 or go to