What are the basics of teaching English to non-native speakers?

You can’t be an ESL or EFL teacher just because you speak English as a mother tongue. This article explains some of the basics of teaching English to non-native speakers of English.

  • Get a grammar reference

Invest in a good grammar guide. If you are a native speaker, you will know how to speak and write good English. But knowing grammar rules is one thing; knowing how to explain those rules is quite another. When you buy a reference guide, try to get one especially designed for ESL / EFL students. Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage published by Oxford University Press is ideal for both teachers and learners. There are several other books too.

  • Keep It Simple

When teaching grammar to ESL students focus on one specific point at a time. Trying to teach too many rules at a time will only confuse your students. Say, for example, you are teaching the uses of the verb have. Have, as you probably know, has many rules. It can be used to form the perfect verb forms. It can be used to show possession. Have can be an auxiliary verb. It can also be a principal verb. Instead of teaching all of these uses of have at all once, focus on one at a time. Once you have taught those rules move to the next.

  • Slow down while speaking

Native English speakers often speak too quickly. Slow down, otherwise your students may find it difficult to follow what you are saying. Keep your vocabulary simple. Use words and phrases that your students are already familiar with.

  • Limit the use of idioms and phrasal verbs

Native speakers have no difficulty understanding idioms or phrasal verbs. It comes naturally to them. Most ESL learners, on the other hand, have a tough time understanding these peculiar word combinations. By limiting the use of idioms and phrasal verbs you can go a long way in helping students learn more effectively.



Let's learn some culture today and learn something about LONDON TUBE.

The London Underground (locally known as the Tube) is the biggest and oldest metro system in the world. It’s also one of the most convenient, serving about 20 hours on a daily basis. Each of the Underground lines has a different name and colour. This helps you easily follow your route on the map.

Upon your arrival at a station, you should have a look at the colour-coded signs that will direct you to the line you’re looking for. The London Underground system is divided into 6 different fare zones. The London city centre is of course in Zone 1. Your ticket price depends on the number of zones through which you travel. You can easily buy your ticket from an automatic ticket machine or alternatively at the ticket office at any station. Both single and return tickets are available and they are valid only on the date shown.

If you know where you want to go, I recommend you should use the ticket machines because they can save a lot of your time. The instructions are easy to follow. The ticket machines usually give change, but I would suggest that you use the correct money if possible. By doing this, you will help keep change for other passengers who really need it.

Most London Underground stations have ticket gates. You need to pass through them quite a few times throughout your journey. Upon your arrival, just insert your ticket into the slot of the machine through which the ticket will pass. You can then take it from a slot at the top and the gates will open to let you through. When you have completed your last journey, the gates will open and let you through but your ticket will be retained by the machine.

As far as I’m concerned, London’s Tube is probably one of the most famous in the world. However, I feel that there is something about being underground I am not very keen on. For instance, the massive crowds swarm towards the train platforms, rushing up and down stairs, following the signs and the annoying ‘Mind the gap’ thing. Based on my experience, the trains are also absolutely packed. I have so many times been pushed up against someone really stinky. It’s never easy to find yourself a seat, and you can hardly see anything. Having said that, I still believe it is the cheapest and quickest way to get around London though.

Don't forget to mind the gap!!!

To sum up, The London Underground is really easy to use so long as you are equipped with a map. To avoid wasting your time, simply validate your ticket and pass through the gates, stand on the right hand side of the steep escalators, or just walk down on the left if you are in a rush. The Tube normally arrives every few minutes so you don’t need to run. In summer the tube can be really hot and smelly, but again it is another part of travelling around the capital of England.


ESL Teaching Tips

  • Let them talk

Gaining better communication skills is the top priority for most ESL students. Pay careful attention to the most common errors your students make during an exercise. Once they have finished doing the exercise, correct them. If a teacher corrects every mistake the students make, they will become hesitant to speak because they are afraid of being corrected. Frequent correction will also disturb the natural flow of conversation. By correcting their mistakes after they have finished their exercise, you can give them more confidence.
  • Create the right setting

Setting the right mood is extremely essential because it helps students to concentrate. Many teachers recommend playing music in the class to improve the spirits of students.
  • Get your students more physically involved in the lesson.

Get your students physically involved in the lesson. Give them short breaks every now and then and ask them to get up and walk about. These short breaks will help rise their energy levels and improve learning.
  • Put special focus on developing communication skills.
Foreign students learn English because they want to be able to communicate in English. Each exercise should have a communicative aspect connected to it. For example, while teaching tenses, get students ask each other questions about their experiences. Ask them to use the specific tenses.
  • Keep a folder of great lessons
If you find a great lesson, make an extra photocopy for future use and keep it aside in a special folder.



Numbers in english are a bit confusing , these are some tips not to get lost! / Los números en inglés son un poco confusos y podemos perdernos, aquí tenéis alguna información útil.

Fractions and decimals

We say simple fractions like this:

1/8 = one eighth

5/7 = five sevenths

2/5 = two fifths

3/4 hour = three quarters of an hour

More complex fractions are usually expressed by using the word over.

218/576 = two hundred and eighteen over five hundred and seventy six

We say and write decimals like this:

0.278 = nought point two seven eight (US zero point two seven eight)

(NOT nought point two hundred and seventy eight)

Nought, zero, nil etc

The figure 0 is usually called nought in British English, and zero in American English. When we say numbers one figure at a time, 0 is often called oh.

My phone number is nine three two five oh six (= 932506)

In measurements of temperature , 0 is called zero in both British and American English.

Zero scores in team games are called nil. In tennis and similar games, the word love is used for zero.

And the score is: Brazil three, Italy nil.

Forty-love: Nadal to serve

Telephone numbers

Each figure is said separately. There is usually a pause after groups of three or four figures. If the same figure comes twice, British people usually say double.

657 4481 – six five seven, double four eight one (British)

- six five seven, four four eight one (US)

Roman numbers

The names of kings and queens are still written in Roman numbers.

It was built in the time of Louis XIV.

Queen Elizabeth II

Henry V

Cardinal and ordinal number

The numbers one, two, three, four etc., are called cardinal numbers

whereas the numbers first, second, third, fourth etc., are called ordinal numbers.

Ordinal numbers are used before nouns. After a noun, we use cardinal numbers.

the fourth chapter – chapter four

the third act – Act Three


THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE USA /El Sistema Educativo en los estados Unidos.

The Education System in the USA

In the USA, children start school when they are five or six years old. Depending on the state, schooling is compulsory until the age of 16 or 18. Children younger than five can go to a nursery school or preschool.

At the age of five or six, the children attend elementary school (also known as grade school or grammar school), which last six years. The fist year at elementary school is called kindergarten.

After elementary school, students attend middle school (also known as junior high school) for three years. Then they continue at high school. In some states, students have to stay in school until they are 18 years old. In other states they may leave school at 16 or 17 with parental permission.

Age School

< 5 nursery school / preschool

5-11 elementary school

11-14 middle school / junior high school

14-18 high school / senior high school

When students in the USA say what year they are in, they usually use ordinal numbers, e. g. ‘tenth grade’. (In the UK students would use cardinal numbers, e. g. ‘year ten’.)


At elementary school pupils primarily learn how to read, write and count. There are about 20 to 30 pupils in one class.

At junior and senior high school, mandatory subjects are English, maths, biology, chemistry, physics, physical education and history. Schools also offer optional courses from which the students can choose, e. g. art, modern languages, computers. Physical education is a very important subject in the United States – many students participate in sports programs.

Gifted and talented students can take advanced courses in their schools or attend additional courses at community colleges in the afternoons or during the holidays. Often such courses are later acknowledged by universities, and can facilitate early graduation.

Grading Scale

In the USA (as in other English speaking countries) letter grades are used in reports.

■A > 90 % (excellent)

■B > 80 % (very good)

■C > 70 % (improvement needed)

■D > 60 % (close fail)

■E > 50 % (fail)

■F < 50 % (fail)

In general, only grades A to C are a 'pass' – a plus (+) or minus (-) might be added (e. g. A-, B+).

Different Kinds of Schools

Most students in the USA are enrolled in public schools. These are financed through taxes, so parents do not have to pay for their children's education. About 10 % of US students attend private schools, where parents have to pay a yearly fee.

Another option is homeschooling: approximately 1-2 % of parents in the USA educate their children at home. Some reasons for homeschooling are religious views, special needs (e. g. handicapped children), or problems in traditional schools (bullying, drugs etc.). However, there is also opposition to homeschooling claiming that the students have difficulties socializing with others, that homeschooling (often carried out by the parents) is of a poor academic quality and that (especially concerning religion) extremist views might be encouraged.

School Uniforms

It is not common for students in the USA to wear school uniforms, but many schools have dress codes telling students what kind of clothing is or is not allowed in school. Some schools (especially private schools) have started to require their students to wear school uniforms in order to improve school discipline and avoid 'fashion cliques'.