English Language Teaching Pratices. Relevance to Indian Classrooms

Seminar Paper, 2021

14 Pages





Using the target language in the classroom

Understanding and adopting to students’ learning style

Using natural language

Using technology for language learning

Activating previous knowledge with English Language Learners

Encouraging students to adopt a hands-on approach to language learning

Building language skills through grammar

Consolidating language

Bringing language and culture alive in the classroom




This article covers some of the best practices I have come across in my experience as a second language instructor: Using the target language in the classroom, understanding students’ learning style and adopting teaching accordingly, using natural language, using technology, activating prior knowledge with English language learning, Encouraging students to adopt a hands-on approach to language learning, building language skills through grammar, consolidating language, bringing language and culture alive in the classroom.

Teachers are to be adoptable continuously to the best teaching practices to meet changing demands of learners. Since language teaching practice is cyclic and self-reflective, teachers have to practice and improve by adding new practices and eliminating not-so-promising practices. The routine classroom learning is not much appreciated. Students would like to have some innovatory practices. Using the target language as much as possible in the classroom is recommended. Students have to be provided exposure to the target language. Learning situations in the classroom act as model situations that give consolidated and continuous practice. Students need continuous practice and exposure to the target language. Technology provides varied natural learning environments along with the culture to learners. Teachers have to provide suitable environments and also adoptable to the learners’ level, style and demands. Learner motivation can be activated by rewarding students. Since grammar is the backbone of language, building students’ grammar is essential teaching practice. Student’s prior knowledge can be expanded by revising and rebuilding vocabulary and grammar for the reinforcement of learned skills.


Students’ learning needs are changing and their demands correspond to their needs. To meet the changing demands of students, teachers are to be adoptable. Learning demands have to match with the teaching demands. The best teaching practices are to be continuously updated by a teacher.

Planning is one of those essential skills of the competent teacher. In an English language lesson, every lesson and class is different. The content depends on what the teacher wants to achieve in the lesson. However it is possible to make some generalisations. Students who are interested in, involved in and enjoy what they are studying tend to make better progress and learn faster (British Council-Planning, 2018).

A lesson plan is a framework for a lesson. Effective lesson planning is the basis of effective teaching. A plan is a guide for the teacher as to where to go and how to get there. The teacher needs to be flexible in planning (British Council-Planning, 2018). Teacher’s plans should correspond with students’ needs, learning style and learning capacity.

Teachers’ knowledge should be updated through various resources such as, YouTube, Skype, educational videos and audios. The learned skills need to be applied in the language classroom from time-to-time and reformed as per the students’ performance. Thus, language teaching practice is a cyclic process (Fig. 1). Language teaching is self-reflective. Teachers have to practice and improve by adding new practices and eliminating not-so-promising practices.

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Fig.1: Language teaching practice is a cyclic process for finding out some best teaching practices

Students do not prefer to have the routine classroom learning (Pratibha, 2017). Outlined here are some of the language teaching practices, which I have encountered through discussion and observation in my teaching sessions.

Using the target language in the classroom

The target language is the language learners are studying, and also the individual items of language that they want to learn, or the teacher wants them to learn. In the classroom, lesson aims may be based around target language, e.g. ‘Learners will be able to understand the difference between ‘I didn’t need to..’ and ‘I needn’t have..’ (British Council, target language, 2018).

Dickson (1996) states that using the “target language promotes natural acquisition and that use of the mother tongue (L1) undermines this process by diverting attention from the object of pupils’ learning”. Thus as far as possible, I use the target language and also recommend the same. If teachers use mother tongue, students do not try to use target language- this delays learning process. But, teachers can give clues by showing gestures, maps, hints, etc. This in turn, enables learners to become impatient and use target language.

ACTFL recommends use of the target language at all levels of instruction. In classrooms, instructors use a variety of strategies to facilitate comprehension and support meaning making. For example, they:

- provide comprehensible input that is directed toward communicative goals;
- make meaning clear through body language, gestures, and visual support;
- conduct comprehension checks to ensure understanding;
- negotiate meaning with students and encourage negotiation among students;
- elicit talk that increases in fluency, accuracy, and complexity over time;
- encourage self-expression and spontaneous use of language;
- teach students strategies for requesting clarification and assistance when faced with comprehension difficulties; and
- offer feedback to assist and improve students’ ability to interact orally in the target language. (ACTFL, 2010)

Certain amount of freedom in the classroom with minimum monitoring during the classes helps students better space for learning by building confidence.

Using the target language as much as possible in the classroom is a very important best Practice (Sams, 2011) (Hardwick, 2015). The more you expose your students to the target language, the better. Immersing your students in the target language helps them use it more independently and this can lead to increased confidence and better vocabulary (British Council, target language, 2018). Exposure to the target language is necessary to learn it easily and naturally. Learning situations in the classroom act as model situations that give consolidated and continuous practice.

Understanding and adopting to students’ learning style

Instructors’ skill at altering their vocabulary to match the course level is another best practice. For example, in a lower-level course one may use just the word for “tree” in a language, but in upper-division courses use the more descriptive hyponym “pine,” “oak,” or “maple.” Therefore, if a student asks what a word in the target language means, rather than using L1, the instructor can use both gesture and description to explain the word. To extend the exercise, the instructor can give the antonym. This is helpful in that it can exponentially maximize the students’ working vocabulary (Sams, 2011). Thus, practice works well even for Indian conditions. I have practiced for engineering students.

Using natural language

Another issue in using the TL is using natural language. Some best practice to combat this is for teachers to incorporate slang in the classroom. For example, in French nickel and trop are currently being used in colloquial speech to mean “perfect” or “great” (Sams, 2011). Using idioms and phrases in the target language makes the language more natural. For example, ‘to keep one’s fingers crossed’ to mean ‘to wish for luck’.

To bring natural language into the classroom, inviting a native speaker in provides an excellent opportunity for the students to improve their listening and speaking skills (Sams, 2011). Inviting a native speaker, who may not be a language teacher, to the classroom works well. By inviting a native speaker to the classroom, students will be exposed to the target language with high interaction by improving listening and speaking skills simultaneously. They are exposed to the language as a whole with appropriate pronunciation and expressions.

Using technology for language learning

Language teaching can be enhanced by effective uses of educational technology. Based on research findings in language acquisition and computer‐assisted language learning, best practices take into account effective language pedagogy, and appropriate roles of technology. Best practices in using technology to support language teaching and learning see technology as a tool that can enhance teaching and learning by augmenting input, providing additional opportunities for language practice, and serving as a platform for interaction and tasks‐based learning activities (Hoopingarner, 2009). For example, 5-Minute Film Festival: 7 Videos for ELL Classrooms-Larry Ferlazzo’s videos (Edutopia, 2015).

Linguascope, is an interactive language teaching and learning website which students really enjoy. Use YouTube also for clips and TaskMagic, for games. Discussions with colleagues often bring about some of the best ideas (Hardwick, 2015).

The literature revealed moderate support for the claim that technology use changed the process of learning; for example, it caused more frequent dictionary look-ups or faster completion of tasks. A large number of studies confirmed that learners enjoy using technology in Foreign Language (FL) learning and that they prefer using technology over more traditional methods and materials. Because of technology, learners tend to be more engaged in the process of learning, and have a more positive attitude towards learning (Ewa et al., 2014). In my earlier research article (Mallu, 2017), I found positive results with technology usage. For instance, engineering students while using digital resources in the language lab refer to the dictionary and watch videos for role plays and mock interviews.

Activating previous knowledge with English Language Learners

Students learn better when they first access what they already know—and this plays a big role in improving English language learners’ academic literacy. Activating prior knowledge means both eliciting from students what they already know and building initial knowledge that they need in order to access upcoming content (Ferlazzo and Sypnieski, 2018). This is one of the best practices to go from known to unknown, familiar to unfamiliar by recollecting, revising, rebuilding etc. This can be done through practice tests, language games and many more. The learned skills would be reinforced with revision and which enables further learning.

Encouraging students to adopt a hands-on approach to language learning

Students need to be involved in tasks they find interesting in an environment where active and successful learning is encouraged. Students make the most progress when they are enjoying themselves. Competitions and quizzes keep motivation levels high, and rewards for communicating in the target language in the various skill areas offer chances for constant self-improvement. The smallest of tasks, such as matching pictures to words or phrases, or even word searches, can be turned into competitions – against the clock, first to finish, fastest class, etc. Rewards and prizes were very effective motivators (Hardwick, 2015). It is essential to find out what is interesting to the learners. It depends on their age and background. Activities, which are interesting to students, should be conducted in an interactive way along with the rewards. Sometimes, in my language classes I conduct quiz or JAM sessions and reward with a pen or chocolate. Thus, students are motivated, which in turn unfolds their creativity.


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English Language Teaching Pratices. Relevance to Indian Classrooms
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english, language, teaching, pratices, relevance, indian, classrooms
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Pratibha Mallu (Author), 2021, English Language Teaching Pratices. Relevance to Indian Classrooms, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/985568


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