Finding Us

ALCP Office

phone: (208) 885-4061
fax: (208) 885-2859

Mailing address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 1250
Moscow, ID 83844-1250

Physical address:
901 Paradise Creek Street
LLC Bldg. #3
Moscow, ID 83844-1250

Tips for Communicating with ESL Students

The following techniques are useful in matching speech patterns to the needs of those who are experiencing difficulty with oral skills.
  • Simple, active and present verb tense
  • Talk slowly and clearly, repeat, use synonyms
  • Use as many examples and models as possible
  • Normal volume
  • Use gestures and facial expressions
  • Avoid use of slang and idioms
  • Paraphrasing words, phrases, or sentences
  • Nonverbal cues (for example: pointing at words, visuals, or pantomiming)
  • Correction by restating or modeling
Compiled by Barbara Gottschalk (1995), ESL Instructor. Youngstown State University.

Basic Principals for Explaining to ESL Students
  • Be patient. Try to imagine yourself in their country as a student.
  • Be sensitive to their cultural perspectives (including cultural thought patterns).
  • Explain the cultural expectations of American higher education.
  • Help them to know how to use the library and computer lab.
  • Give lots of speaking practice.
  • Speak clearly, naturally and avoid using lots of slang.
  • Ask students to repeat what you have just said to show understanding.
  • If a student has trouble understanding you, write down what you are saying. If you have trouble understanding the student, ask him or her to write down what he/she is saying.
  • Use lots of repetition.
  • Encourage students to make friends outside of class because this will improve their English.
  • Write down words the student does not know.
  • Admit it if there is a communication problem: “I don’t understand.”

Please Remember:

  • Don’t categorize students. ESL students come from a large variety of backgrounds.
  • Don’t treat students like children. English language proficiency does not indicate intelligence or ability level.
  • Don’t make snap judgments about someone’s English skills based only on speaking ability.
  • Don’t be too serious. Make some “small talk” and try to use new vocabulary in a context the students are familiar with.
  • Don’t assume cultural or background knowledge.
  • Don’t just explain something. Use examples instead.
  • Don’t act as if you understand the student if you don’t.
Adapted from: Barbara Gottchalk, ESL Instructor & her students, Youngstown State University, 1995.
Lewin, Ellen, Tutoring Tips for ESL Tutoring. Learning Assistance Center, Minnesota Community College; Minneapolis, MN.