Tips from an Irvine ESL Tutor: 5 Ways ESL Students Can Improve Their Everyday English

ESL students have a long journey in front of them. Any student learning a second language as an older child or adult will be using their brain at a more intensive level and putting their memory and comprehension skills to the test. Additionally, students who are, or will be, taking classes in English will also have to learn about English language jargon and be able to read information buried within an academic text. Once ESL students can master their speaking and listening skills, they are more likely to be able to move on to the next level of fluency. Learning a second language can become tedious early on, but there are a few ways students can work through this repetition to reach their goals.


1. Pick an everyday topic or situation

Most ESL students will be working with a classroom teacher or private Irvine ESL tutor. They should sign up for a speaking or situational class where they can learn about how to deal with everyday topics. Additionally, students can have a speaking companion to help them refine situations specific to their needs and lifestyle. For instance, one session may cover how to order at the student’s favorite cafe and the next might include how to make a friend at the local gym. Being able to chat about day to day topics makes life easier and more social.

2. Word of the day

English language students are also encouraged to pick a word of the day. They can choose from possible words that help them communicate with their peers, unique terms that will help them broaden their vocabulary or a word list selected by their tutor. Some ESL students will try to memorize 10 or more words every day but often become overwhelmed and end up forgetting all of them. However, learning just one single word per day is usually pretty easy to do. Students should practice using these words as part of their session or with their speaking companion to practice appropriate grammar and verb conjugation (READ: “ESL Study Tips for Taking the SAT”).

3. Get a ‘beach read’

Academic text can become dry and overwhelming very quickly. However, easy to read novels and magazines AKA ‘beach reads’ can be fun and informative on a practical level. Students who read a 200-word magazine article on a topic they enjoy or work through a chapter book with simple dialogue will be able to work on reading comprehension at a reasonable level until they become comfortable with more complicated passages.

4. Watch episodes of a comedy or drama with limited dialogue

Watching TV in a second language can also be a fun way to reinforce listening skills. Although sentences will be simplified and repeated when necessary during a tutoring session or in a classroom, ESL students will need to become comfortable with faster interactive dialogue before they can converse easily with native English speakers. Most situational comedies and some dramas will provide limited yet practical dialogue that can allow the student to comprehend a fair portion of the material in a visual format (READ: “Tips From an Irvine Academic Tutor: 5 Apps for ESL Students”).

5. Work with a speaking partner on a regular basis

ESL students are also encouraged to work with a speaking partner regularly. Although even one hour once a week can be helpful, students who wish to become comfortable with their fluency are encouraged to work with their group several times a week. If students can’t meet with their tutor that often, they can work with their peers who are also learning English or with a native English speaking partner. The more a student can vary their vocabulary and become comfortable making mistakes- and correcting them -in a small group environment, the more likely they are to get fluent within a reasonable period.

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