Teaching English is no easy feat. With a variety of different skill levels in every classroom, teachers must employ effective strategies that allow each student to learn the material. Whether the class focuses on literature, grammar, or language skills, these teaching strategies will come in handy for many English teachers.
Five Effective Strategies for English Teachers
- Vocabulary building. This is an important component of any English class. This strategy focuses a portion of each classroom session on building a better vocabulary. Teachers can ask students to point out unfamiliar words and go over the meanings in class or use interactive vocabulary-building exercises that relate to the class’s reading material.
- Writer’s workshop. Have students participate in a writer’s workshop several times each year. The writing workshop model created by Lucy Calkins, founder of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, allows students to learn about and participate in all aspects of the writing process: drafting, revision, editing and publishing.
- Peer response and editing. This can be a very valuable teaching strategy for both the teacher and the student, and there are many peer response strategies to try in class. Students get a chance to think critically about others’ writing and see the results their classmates got from a writing assignment. In addition, teachers can observe how different students learn and what strategies might work better in the future.
- Cooperative learning. This learning strategy is useful for English teachers who incorporate literature into their classroom. Cooperative learning requires students to discuss a piece of literature in small groups. By allowing the students to engage in meaningful discussion, they begin to learn to analyze literature and participate in an educational process that they will find more interesting than a general lecture on a chapter in a book.
- Student-chosen texts. Allowing students to choose their own reading materials is a strategy that literacy specialists recommend as a way to develop lifelong readers. Students are given a choice of literature from an age- and reading level-appropriate book collection. After a period of independent reading, students break into groups and discuss what they’ve read, book club-style, followed by journaling. When this strategy is successful, students are able to delve deeply into the meaning of the literature, develop critiquing skills, and have a valuable discussion with their classmates about the book that they chose. Teachers who use this strategy finds that it can lead to a classroom that is engaged with literature.
Depending on the grade level taught and the type of material assigned based on the curriculum plan, English teachers will have to try one or more of the above strategies to make their classroom work. The same strategy may not work from year to year, and teachers may find that while one strategy works for one teacher, it does not work in their classroom. English teachers who are flexible and willing to experiment with teaching strategies are sure to find a winning formula.