Luna

What's the best way to teach English to my partner.

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My partner needs to learn English because we will be traveling to the United States soon. We want to get our CDL's and become truck drivers. What's the best method of teaching him? He took conversational English with me in collage but honestly the class was too advanced for him, the professor would give all instructions in English and without me translating I'm sure he would have failed.

I acquired English when I was a kid. I don't have perfect pronunciation and I'm a little slow speaking it because I've never lived in an English speaking place, but English is almost as natural for me as my native lenguage. I know how it works but not how to explain it to him.

What are the best methods for learning ESL? Is a payed school the only option or are there at home methods I can try?

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Considering that I live in the U.S., I wish I knew more about free English learning opportunities in other countries.  If you have any colleges or universities near where you live, perhaps you could contact them to see if there are any students who are earning English teaching degrees because they often need to interact with English learners for their classes or if they have any other resources for English learners.  Or if any of those places have exchange programs with students from countries that speak English natively, maybe some of the students would be willing to become a conversation partner with him.

Also, have him watch programs and movies with English audio.  He can watch the shows with subtitles to help out.  And if he likes to read, see if you can find any books written in English that he might like and are of a good level of difficulty.  It doesn't have to be fine literature--anything of interest or use to him is good.  Comics, magazines, cookbooks, newspapers, and whatever else are good.  People often neglect writing in their language studies, but writing is helpful, too.  Keeping a journal or a blog can help him practice his skills.  Really, practice, practice, practice is what it boils down to in the end.

Of course, seeing that you both want to earn your CDLs, make certain that he learns what will be beneficial for this line of work.  He may even feel more at ease focusing on this at first, too--it's certainly best for him not to over-extend himself.

I'm actually earning an MA in TESOL, so while I'm definitely still learning about teaching others English, I'm hoping I can be of some help.

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Thanks. I have him watching English tv and movies but he tells me he really doesn't get it. He needs more help than that. I'm going to look into the university. That's a great idea.

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Get him an audio course or an online one, there are several good option online that are completely free.  Other than that all you can do is support him and answer all his queries.  He needs to take a course tho, so at least he gets some guidance  and direction.

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There are a number of ways he could learn but it all comes down to which he would grasp more easily. My suggestion is, have him do a short course on line and watch a lot of TV. Also try to correspond with him in English more often.

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My wife is Spanish and she had the same problem, what I came to realise is that in her head she was always trying to translate from English to Spanish and vice versa...

I think that it's is due to the fact that in the majority of the Spanish high schools English teachers teach English while speaking plain Spanish...

I don't know if that's your case but I'd say that the first thing you should try to tell him is to stop thinking in Spanish...

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Reading comic books is how I learned the most of my English vocabulary and grammar from and I think it's the best method because you get to review past panels easily and see them in context whereas with a movie you'd have to keep rewinding and you won't have the benefit of having an overview of the whole story as context.

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Although this might be a bit extreme, I think that forcing him to speak solely in English will help him tremendously. Even when he doesn't know how to express himself perfectly, he should still try to express himself in the target language. That way, he will be forced to learn new words and think in the target language. You can also fill in the gaps for him and he will definitely pick up on it :). Good luck!

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My wife is Spanish and she had the same problem, what I came to realise is that in her head she was always trying to translate from English to Spanish and vice versa...

I think that it's is due to the fact that in the majority of the Spanish high schools English teachers teach English while speaking plain Spanish...

I don't know if that's your case but I'd say that the first thing you should try to tell him is to stop thinking in Spanish...

Yep English is thought here while speaking Spanish. We take English from Kindergarten to 12th grade but a lot of people never learn to speak it in all those years, they just memorize whatever they need to past the test.

Getting him to stop thinking in Spanish is probably the best way in the long run, but his English now is so basic that I'm sure he couldn't think in English even if he wanted (he's vocabulary is super limited).

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I personally took a long time to learn the language as I've done it slowly on the internet, gaming and speaking to other people, but, after a certain point, you learn faster because you already have the basics. I suggest he starts by the basics, do some translations of important words and terms, listen to audio due to the accent and then start on sentence creation and how to compose them. It's important to know how to pronounce certain terms and letters too.

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Find out what his interests are, and subscribe him to different mailing lists in English. If he likes a certain TV show, have him watch it in English with subtitles, and after repeated viewings take the subtitles off. He should be able to follow what's going on from memory.

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I think there are several ways you can help your partner improve his English. 

First, expose him to English as much as possible.  You can find some English resources online that has daily lessons.  You can study these things together.  Look for ones that introduces new vocabulary.  Then you can practice these words in your daily conversation.

Second, you can try to have an English-speaking home for a while.  Communicate with him in English only as much as possible.  This is your way of 'forcing' him to think and speak in English.

Of course, nothing beats attending an English course or having an English tutor, but I think these are simple ways you can support your partner in his language goals.

Good luck!

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I agree with the other members. Some of the best free ways to learn conversational English is by watching movies with subtitles and videos on YouTube. There are many tutorial videos there. If you have the money to spare, then you can enroll in an English class. There are different levels there which can cater to your partner's level at the moment.

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Hi! You failed to mention your partner's interest in acquiring the language.

I understand that both of you have a goal of acquiring a certain certificate. The reason I brought up the question on interest is because I believe this is the KEY to him acquiring the language. As many of the members pointed out, there are A LOT of means to help one improve their English, but I believe no method is good enough if the person is not interested enough.

But I assure you that what the other members suggested are effective, if the right amount of interest is present.

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If getting a tutor for him is a good idea for him, maybe try to get him one English tutor. :)

I agree that better to expose him to the language as much as possible like talking to him in English. Practice will eventually make him pick up more English words.

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I don't think that paid schooling is the only way to go. There are some surprisingly good online resources for beginners, and once he gets a little further along with it you can go a little "immersive" with it and do things like conversational teaching, movies/tv and music and audiobooks are great ways to get regular exposure to it as well. There are plenty of resources out there and formal schooling isn't a necessity anymore =).

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Well, he might not be as advanced as you but he's at least taken it in college. This means he probably knows the basic fundamentals of the language, which is important. You could probably try YouTube channels or make him listen to audio recording or even audiobooks.

I remembered a lot of the Spanish I still retain from watching Spanish cartoons too. I know it sounds childish to make him do so but it might help to sit him down and make him watch English cartoons. The thing about cartoons is this: Characters have a fluid animation and body language to help a child understand the emotion or wording that the character is trying to convey.

Although, to be fair, I did this with Spanish cartoons and don't know how well it will work if used in conjunction to learning English.

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Make them speak it! For the love of God!

I've seen so many people make this mistake. They hire tutors, they study endlessly. Then you talk to them and they freeze up! It's so important to make sure they practice speaking. Try to slowly shift your conversations with them to English as much as possible. Just like you can't improve your spelling without writing, you can't improve your speaking without having conversations in that language!

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What's always been frustrating about online courses for language learning is you don't get that interaction with a teacher that you would in a classroom. And for language learning, having a native speaker who you can get immediate feedback from is very important to good understanding. I've tried both routes of buying an online course/guide and going to a physical class several times a week, and I had a much better experience in the physical class than I did on my own.

Other than that, everyone else's recommendations are excellent. Immerse him in as much English learning opportunities as possible and just be there to help him along as another resource.

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It sounds like YOU are his best method of learning English.  Higher education doesn't seem to be helping.  I know it's a little trickier to learn as an adult than as a child.  Try relating as much as possible.  Try things like "In America they say (English word or phrase here) instead of (native word or phrase here)." Maybe that will help.

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I've always suggested people trying to learn English to start with listening. You don't need to understand what's being said, you just need to familiarize with the words being said. You can try musics, movies or tv but the point is constant exposure. He can listen to music when he's working out, he can plug his earpiece and listen to some audio when he is sleeping (I've actually done this during my university years). It will help a lot if you know which activities he enjoys, e.g. if he likes playing game then introduce him to some with lengthy conversations; if he likes movies then get him to watch some classics...The point is to help him feel like he's progressing, which is why finding words more familiar than before is important.

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You should try to communicate with your partner in English only so that your partner can be habitual to it. Ask your partner to read some good books, novels and you should help your partner to understand it. Watch some movies with subtitle so that your partner ca understand the correct accent of the language.  

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First, you both have to focus on mastering the American English and, if possible, the American accent. YouTube is a great way to master the listening skills. A lot of amazing YouTubers come from the US. They talk a lot in their videos. Analyzing their speech is key, not the grammar exercises. Listen, memorize, repeat.

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I hope the OP has already solved his problem about his partner learning English since it has been quite some while since this thread was started. However, for those who are facing a similar problem, here's something I have used when I teach English as a second language.

Sing songs in English.

Yes, sing songs. Never mind about the meaning of the lyrics. Just sing. It's fun and it gives an idea of how the language flows. That's important. It's not just a matter of being able to speak English. It's also necessary to speak English as it should be spoken. Otherwise, the learner speaker will always be held back by the feeling of inadequacy. Is it very difficult to speak English as it should be spoken? No, not at all. Just sing songs in English. That will get you started.

So what songs to sing?

I always recommend singing country songs. These songs are slow and the melody is easy to follow. Besides the words are clear. One of my favorites is "Blowing in the wind". I used to teach this to all my students. The melody is repetitive and the lyrics are very meaningful.

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