Do write to us with
your views about the English language and any questions you
I teach English in a company in Rouen.
My students - management staff from various departments
- work extremely long hours
and are often absent on business trips. Weekly group lessons,
two hours in length, are scheduled for all the students.
Most of them studied English at school and can speak English
reasonably confidently even though they make many mistakes.
Several of my students who, for reasons of work, cannot
attend every lesson, have asked me for some English work
to do on their own. From past experience I have found that,
although students ask me for "plenty of" self-study or
homework, they often fail to do any. What advice should
I give them?
The Editor's reply
Self-study, homework, however it is named, involves a lot of hard work.
If your students express interest, then, of course, encourage
them to do extra language work on their own. However, do ensure
they realise that self-study requires some commitment.
Your students should not expect too much of their self-study.
Of course, there are many activities which will help them: they
can strengthen their understanding of grammar and functions,
build up there recognition of vocabulary, and improve their reading,
writing and listening skills. In addition, they can focus on
their pronunciation of English.
You can help your students by identifying for each of them the
language areas s/he needs to work on in order to improve. It
is extremely useful if you not only specify material but also
set each student targets which are realistic in terms of both
time and content. (It is a good idea to do one hour of concentrated
self-study every week and complete specified tasks, rather
than to work in a haphazard irregular and unfocused way). You
should aim to check on a regular basis how well each student
is progressing with his/her self-study.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to help your students to
study. How will they learn new vocabulary? Will they be able
to find it again once they have noted it down? How will they
work with audio cassettes? How can they best exploit reading
material? Time is not wasted if you provide such guidance
in a lesson - training your students to be aware of efficient
learning strategies will help them both in and out of the classroom.
Finally, as regards materials for self-study, I would be happy
to send you a list of up-to-date ones, if you require such information.
Do not forget, however, POSTSCRIPT! This magazine is an enjoyable
and practical way for busy people to work on their English language.