Teaching a foreign language is a complicated process. It helps if you have been in the student’s shoes. There is, however, a kind of stage-by-stage process to learning a new language.
If you are aware of how humans best acquire language then you can adapt your teaching methods to suit. The steps involved in learning a foreign language, then, are:
1. Listen - get a feel for the language and note it’s pronunciation
2. Imitate - copying fluent speakers is a necessary step in mastering a foreign tongue
3. Remember/repeat – words, sentences, phrases, and idioms can only be acquired by first memorizing them, and then repeatedly using them
4. Read - reading helps you to understand more complicated sentences, and reading aloud will improve your pronunciation and fluency
5. Study grammar – knowing how the language is constructed is an essential step in attaining fluency
6. Speak up – constant use, particularly of new language, is perhaps the best way to learn, and for many it’s the reason for learning a language. This is best practiced in conversation with native or fluent speakers.
There to help
We are fortunate to be living in age when access to information is so easy. If you are learning a foreign language, you have books, audio recordings, possibly the opportunity to practice the language with native speakers (thanks to globalisation/cheap travel), and the Internet at your disposal.
Your duty as teacher
As a teacher you can encourage your students to improve on any of the steps above. Helping your students attain fluency is a task not to be taken lightly, but hopefully being aware of the language learning methods will help you in your quest!