Intermediate ESL students are often the easiest group of students to teach. Usually, they have basic skills in the language while still having plenty of untapped upside potential to develop.
Unlike beginners who have no language skills and thus require a patient and thorough teacher and advanced students who need advanced knowledge minute knowledge of the language, intermediates have some skill without expertise. Therefore, for beginning teachers, it is usually best to start their teaching career working with beginners.
This post will provide some suggestions on how to approach and teach intermediate level ESL students.
Automaticity and the Role of the Teacher
By this level, students are somewhat automatic in their speaking process. This allows the teacher to back off from being the center of the classroom in order to allow more student-student interaction as the student are able to be much more creative in their learning experience. Therefore, the learning can now be much more learner-centered with a significant reduction in the amount of talking the teacher does.
Again, for beginner teachers, the students know enough to not require intensive hand-holding but not enough to challenge the expertise of the teacher. This combines to create an excellent initial teaching experience for many.
Focus on Perfection
Intermediate students begin to become obsessed with grammar. They want everything they say to be “perfect.” This focus on over analyzing everything they say can impair fluency and accuracy as they criticized themselves for every slip-up.
The goal of the teacher at this point is to help the students take their focus off of the accuracy of what they are saying and focus on the flow of the conversation. They should be accurate enough to be understood with more complex correction coming later. Grammar has its place in a limited manner but should not dominate the learning experience.
Learning Activities and Techniques
Intermediate students can learn in a more cooperative environment. Some examples of activities suitable for intermediate students include role-plays, discussion, problem-solving and interviews.
The teacher takes on more of a supervisory role in the learning of the students. The provides guidance as necessary as the students determine what to do themselves.
Teaching at the intermediate level is good for many people new to teaching a language. A new teacher can focus on working with students with some competency without the pressure of exit-examines are people have had no clue about the language.