Part 1 — Helping English Language Learners


An increasing proportion of expatriates’ children are being educated in English even though it is not their first language. Many schools for expatriate children use English as the language of instruction. Many schools, learning centers, and home educators are expressing a need for help and advice with English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teaching.

Teachers need to have an awareness of the educational background and culture from which their students come. Some students will come from an educational background in which the learning environment is more student centered. There is less teacher talk and more student involvement in their own learning. Rote learning is rarely done. Instead of dwelling on facts, students are taught where to find information, how to use/analyze the information and how to present information to others. These students are challenged to think and ask questions of the teacher. These students may become frustrated if they are only required to learn facts and not be able to be more hands-on in their learning.

Some students will come from an educational background in which lessons are much more teacher-centered. This means they will expect much more teacher talk, memorization, and learning by rote. They will be more used to fact-based learning and less used to analysing information and forming their own opinions. It may take time for them to adjust to a different style of learning—although learning by rote can certainly be used to advantage for picking up new vocabulary.

A large percentage of TCK schools are in English. This means that both teachers and TCKs from countries where English is not the mother tongue will need to learn English as a foreign language. This will result in them spending most of their teaching/learning day not in a language that they know best.

Now, think about students you’ve worked with whose language of instruction is not their mother tongue. In our home countries, the dynamics of this is a bit different, because one of the purposes is to help them transition and assimilate into the country in which they are living. But, for the TCK, they need to learn the language of instruction so that they can be successful in the school. The goal in a TCK school is not assimilation, but rather to help the TCK eventually repatriate to their home country. These different approaches can affect how the teacher works with students in their classroom/boarding home/youth group.

Continue on to Part 2 — Helping Young Students Learning a Second Language

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