Teaching the Language of Everyday Life

Teaching the Language of Everyday Life

Most ESL students want to learn English for social as well as academic purposes. Starting with the basics is the best way for them to meet their goal. If they start by learning the essentials, the words and phrases that they would use in their community, at school, or while shopping, they will quickly learn the language of everyday life. By using a few simple techniques, you can help students reach their goals.

Keep the lessons simple. English-language learners can be from any age group, any grade, and any place. They’re probably living in a new place, making new friends, and trying to make their way around a new society. Small amounts of information will be much easier for them to remember and much easier for them to practice.

First, teach them essential phrases that will actually help them, such as “My name is…” “I don’t understand/speak English” and “Where is the bathroom?” At first, they may only understand these phrases as complete units, but soon they will understand the component words and recognize them in other sentences.

To help them begin to read in English, label objects in the classroom: desk, chair, blackboard, pencil, window, floor, washroom, bulletin board, office, book, paper, etc. If you’re speaking about that object, point to it as you say its name. Once a student can orally produce the name of an object, they can begin to read the names.


When learning to read and write, use any object found in the class or in the home. Discuss what is written on it, such as directions, instructions, expiry dates, image descriptions, dates, and much more.

By using examples from every day life to begin speaking, reading and writing, any student learning English as a second language will learn quickly, and will benefit greatly in their own every day lives.

This information is taken from Many Roots, Many Voices: Supporting English Language Learners in Every Classroom.