ESL Vs Bilingual Teaching

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After what it may appear at first glance, ESL (English as a Second Language) and bilingual teaching are quite different. They both involve learning English, but this is where the similarities stop. This article will examine both types of education.


English as a Second Language training is based around bringing a student up to speed in English. It usually involves classes that are related only to the subject of the English language and is almost always carried out in that language. This is probably the fastest method of learning English since it requires almost total immersion for the period of the class, causing the student to start thinking in the language he or she is learning.

ESL classes may be rented out one on one, in small groups or in a proper classroom setting with up to 50 students sitting in. Depending on the language level of the students, the teacher will offer instruction and examples of each part of speech. A large part of early lessons typically includes vocabulary to help students reach the point where they can actively participate in discussions.

Part of the reason ESL classes are so popular is because they are almost inevitably taught in English, forcing the students to learn the language if they want to continue. It is focused specifically on learning English and no other subjects are involved. However, some students do have difficulty with this total immersion method because they are unable to understand enough and get frustrated easily. It depends on the student, but some people are simply better suited to bilingual teaching.
Bilingual Teaching

In some schools, bilingual teaching is offered. This usually means that all classes can be taken in two different languages. These can be any two languages, but one is often English while the other will be the local language. For example, in Guatemala, a bilingual educational center will offer classes that are taught both in the student`s native Spanish and also in English.

Bilingual teaching can be useful because it allows students to use English in the context of a normal class. They will use a wider range of vocabulary since they are using it in Science, History and Math classes. Also, for anyone who has difficulties with the English part of the course, there is always a translation available to help them out.

There are downsides to this method of learning, of course. Since there is the native language option, some students simply won`t learn any English. Also, there can be an overall slowdown in the education of students if they are not able to understand the instructions and tests that are given in their newest language. While this might help them learn English, the delays in other areas of education need to be considered, as well.

This type of position is best suited to individuals who are native English speakers and who have a good grasp of the local language, as well. It`s not usually necessary to be 100% fluent, but you will definitely need to make yourself understood.

ESL is usually the most efficient method of learning English for students who are willing to put in some effort and work hard. However, some people will definitely find it easier to learn in a bilingual setting where they can have the lessons explained to them in their own language as well. This will slow the learning process drastically, but can be useful for students who need that extra boost. If needed, bilingual teaching can be offered in the beginning, with a switch to more English as time goes on and the student is more comfortable. It all depends on the student.

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