It is a truism that the world is increasingly shrinking into a little village connected by technology. This has created a certain sense of awareness of the seemingly superior technology in certain countries when compared to others. This often has created an atmosphere of comparison and the consequent stratification of countries into the camps of the “developed,” “developing,” and “least developed” countries. The developed countries, until very recently, were all domiciled in the United States and Europe. And since all development is first mental before they are concretized into their physical or machine equivalent, it is safe to say that these “developed countries” are far mentally and knowledge-equipped compared to others. Hence, the motivation for foreigners to travel to these climes for educational purposes. It is against this background that international students coming into the US and Europe are often required to master the English language, which is the primary language for studies, specifically, and communication, generally. This paper aims to provide a clear guide for ESL (English as Second Language) students and Tutors.
Who Are ESL Students?
ESL students are persons who do not speak the English language as their first language. For such students, mastering the English language can be a tedious endeavor. It is important to note that there are different proficiency levels for the English language, and the ESL student must gradually learn the language from the most basic level and work his/her way up to the most sophisticated levels with test results to prove proficiency. The ESL learner starts out at the beginner level, where he/she has no understanding of the language and moves to the Elementary Level (A1) where individuals begin to grasp the language, build very little vocabulary, and understand instructions. The next level is the Upper-Elementary (A2) where the understanding of the individual is still limited. Still, he/she can use simple sentences, engage in a conversation, and write simple sentences and phrases. Further, the student moves to the Lower-Intermediate (A1-B1) where students can comprehend basic general information through listening and create the same through writing but finds it hard to take part in a specific discussion and then on to the Intermediate Level (B1-B2) where the individual can understand and produce difficult text without preparations and to Upper-Intermediate (B1) where the individual can speak the language fluently with little mistakes and then to the Advanced (C1) and Proficiency (C2) levels where individuals understand almost everything and where individuals have achieved full mastery of the language. As new English learners, students are often confronted with unfamiliar acronyms that often leave them confused. These include EFL: English as a Foreign Language, TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language, TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language, ESOL: English to Speakers of Other Languages, and ELL stands for English Language Learner.
Three different designs are available for learning the English language which the learner can choose from. These include the Pull-Out Program where the learner is separated from his/her native environment and placed in an English-speaking environment to adapt to the language. The idea here is that placing the learner in an English dominated environment will put the learner in a position where he/she is bombarded with the language every day and then is forced to consciously and unconsciously pick it up. Secondly, the early Exit Program prepares learners for entering into the English-only academic environment. Lastly, Content-Based learning where the English language is integrated into any lesson students is taught. Hence, the content-based approach makes English a part of all other subjects, increasing the language study and practice time and, consequently, mastery. For ease of learning and mastery of the language, there are a host of resources that can help the students in their journey to studying the language. Some of these resources include the 20 Minute ESL Lessons, Quizzes with pictures, Rong Chang, Common errors, ESL podcasts, Real English, Talk English, Learn English Today, and many more valuable resources. The above resources and many more aim to teach and strengthen students’ mastery over the language. On the other hand, Tutors can also take advantage of several resources in the transfer of knowledge to the student. These resources help make the task of teaching seamless and amplify students’ ability to catch up faster and gain mastery in less time. Some of these resources include ESL library, Busy teacher, TELF tunes, ESL printables, ESL video, ESL games world, etc.
Mastery of the English language for foreign students is vital if their academic pursuits must be smooth. The process often presents enormous challenges and seems complicated. However, with the right resources and tutors, combined with the right strategies, international students can master the English language in less time and with minimal setbacks.