Classroom Management Tip: Grading Your Language

stairs1.jpgWhat is it?
Grading your language means adjusting your speech to the level of your learners. This can include how fast you talk, how much you enunciate, and which words you use (phrasal verbs, slang, formal or informal language, etc.).

Why do it?
In general…so you students understand you! If you speak too quickly or use too much unfamiliar language, learners will not be able to follow your instructions or your marvelous grammar clarification.

Why avoid it?
I wouldn’t avoid it completely, but it’s worth bearing in mind that using some new language is necessary for the learning process. First of all, your students are exposed to the new language, but more importantly, they learn how to cope in situations where they don’t understand everything…which is the type of situation they will need to function in out there in the real world. They can either ask for clarification or focus on what they do understand and use their common sense to decide what to do or say in response.

And of course, part of the reason schools and students want native speakers is because they speak natural English (and don’t speak the students language). They don’t want you to give that up completely.

How can you get better at it?
Practice helps, of course, but so does planning and thinking logically You need to be able to put yourself in your students’ shoes to figure out what they need to hear and also what they expect to hear. If you’re presenting a point in a logical way, and it fits with what a reasonable person would more or less expect, your students are more likely to understand you, even if you use “new” words.

Find a thread about grading your language over at Dave’s ESL Café.