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some questions about language teaching


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Hi there, 

I am a foreign language teacher in my country. I have some questions to you experienced teachers out there.


- 1.Should I teach the class only in the studied language? If I do, don't grammar explanations become too complex and overwhelming? You have to understand both the grammar and the new words, used to explain it. Especially in lower levels, and especially for students, who haven't learned the words well enough. Also, sometimes quite a bit of new words are given in one class visit; if you explain all the word meanings in the studied language, it will take too much time and we might not be able to take the material for the day. 

- 2.Should they translate the texts to their mother language, or not? Of course it's good to teach them to think directly in the new language, but I've noticed that without translation the students quite often don't understand very clearly the meaning of some complex sentences or idiomatic expressions. Is there a point in reading, if they don't understand? And if they can't understand a text, how are they supposed to understand when someone is talking to them face to face? 


Thanks a lot! Any responses appreciated. 




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  • 2 weeks later...


I think the best way to teach a new language is to have balance between the language you're teaching and your student's native language. It will be hard to learn something you don't have proper understanding of. It will be really helpful if they translate the text to their mother language and vice versa. It's going to be a long process and will take a lot of patience, especially if the language you're teaching them is very new to them. Also, I think it will be helpful to let them practice by using the language in class little by little. You can also try giving them with different phrases or sentences every day that they can practice when they go home. Hope this helps a bit.

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  • 7 months later...

Hi! I just read your post and I think that the answer also depends on the age of your pupils!!!

I teach in Primary School and I only use English in some classes of very young pupils because I think that this resembles the way they would have if they went to another country! They would be forced to get the language and everyone says it's the best way!!! It doesn't matter if they don't understand everything! They will eventually! Everything will fall into place! Of course you need to go slower but in the long run it will be better. As for translation, I give them the meaning in their mother tongue (writing it on the board) but I never ask for the translation of a whole text. It is not a good method as it doesn't encourage them to think in the foreign language!!! It is a bad method as languages do not match - structures are different, the order of words is different so it actually confuses them!!! 

Adult students need translation but don't give in!!!! 

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