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Letters to the editor

Do write to us with your views about the English language and any questions you may have.

Dear Sirs

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?

Yours truly

Tina Dowell

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.




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