The difficulties of teaching English grammar

While teaching ESL/ESOL, I realized that while learning English words may be easy due to a simple alphabetical system, English grammar can be extremely difficult. In Asian languages, there is no verb conjugation, no past/present tense, or prepositions. This summer, I worked with a Korean student for about 3 months. It was extremely taxing to explain the grammatical rules to her because in English, there are many exceptions to almost every rule. Many times I had to tell her that she simply had to memorize things, which was a little disheartening for her. It took a lot of explaining and many examples to help her understand the different tenses and how to use them. In English, there are so many- present, past, future, past participle, present progressive, etc...and also gerunds, which can act as nouns. Explaining the difference between these tenses was very hard, especially with the language barrier between us. I found that drawing out a timeline and giving examples with specific times worked the best. Also, when teaching ESL, one must constantly remind their students to use proper verb conjugation, and perhaps make a list of all the exceptions (ex: everyone/someone/everybody/somebody "is", NOT "are"). Using prepositions can also be very difficult for ESL students, so it is best to have a list of what each preposition is usually used for and practice fill in the blank ones (ex: "in December," "at 8:00 AM," "on September 5th," etc). Lastly, the most important requirement for teaching ESL is patience. My student took 2 hour lessons with me daily after her 4 hour classes at an English school. However, she eventually left her class and only studied with me because her teacher was not very patient with her and rarely devoted one-on-one time to each student in the class. Communicating with a language barrier was difficult but manageable because we were both patient with each other and tried very hard to find different ways to explain things. If one way did not work, we both attempted another method to explain our points.


Alice Q.

Patient and experienced tutor for math, English, and SAT prep

100+ hours
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