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Classroom Language

When teaching a second language, the goal of a teacher is to use as much of the target language as possible. When reviewing a day in the classroom, one of the most frequent ways that language is used is in the daily routines; these are referred to as classroom language. Teachers can take the opportunity of these daily routines to maximize their target language use and promote its use by students. This section will describe how classroom language can be used and what some tips are for teachers when employing classroom language.

What is classroom language?

Classroom language is the routine language that is used on a regular basis in classroom like giving instructions of praise, for example “Take out your books” or “Please sit down”. This is language that teachers are used to using and students are used to hearing, but when teaching a language it takes a while to learn this part of the language. Knowing these language basics reduces the amount that students are forced to use their mother tongue and increases the amount of the target language they are using; it makes the language classroom environment more authentic.

Why can teaching classroom language pose a challenge?

Teachers often experience difficulties when trying to integrate classroom language into a lesson. The difficulty often lies in that many second language teachers learned the language themselves after childhood, so are not exposed to authentic classroom language. Those teachers must make a particular effort to seek out what the correct language is in order to create the most authentic experience for the students. Students often encounter difficulties when the form in the target language does not make sense in their mother tongue; students must learn to accept that different languages work in different ways.

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How can classroom language be taught?

When teaching classroom language, there are several strategies a teacher can employ to facilitate the learning:

  • Teach the students the classroom language in a scaffolded way. Start with short commands, maybe just one word such as “Sit”. Then the teacher can progress to a longer command, such as “Sit down please” and eventually students can learn alternate phrases that mean the same think, for example “Take a seat”.
  • Make sure the students know what this language is for. Don’t leave them out of the learning process; they should know that the more they use the language, the more they will develop and that these forms are meant to help use the language in the most natural way possible.
  • Once you introduce the concepts, use them! Employ them as much as possible so the students become accustomed to them and eventually are able to use them as well.
  • Use prompts such as language ladders or visuals to help students learn and remember the classroom language. The web site Encouraging Classroom Language Use discusses several different types of prompts that can be used.
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What are some examples of classroom language?

Here are some examples of classroom language:
    How do you say…
    Can I go to the washroom?
    Find a partner.
    Raise your hand.
    Form a line at the door.

Brainstorm and write down 10 additional examples of classroom language. Discuss ways in which you would teach classroom language in your own classroom.

More examples of classroom phrases: http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/download/classroom_phrases.pdf

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Let’s Talk: Teacher Support.  Classroom Language

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Copyright © Olenka Bilash May 2009 ~ Last Modified January 2011