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A guide to teaching English to real beginners

by Hannah Haase on

Welcome to our discussion on teaching English to real beginners, those who are just stepping into the world of English language learning. Whether you're an ESL teacher or someone considering teaching English, it's essential to understand the unique challenges beginners face and how to address them effectively. In this guide, we'll explore some tips and best practices to help you make the journey smoother and more enjoyable for your students.

Understanding REAL beginners

When we say "real beginners," we're referring to students with little to no prior exposure to the English language. These students may not even know the English alphabet or basic vocabulary. Understanding their starting point is crucial for planning effective lessons.

Tip 1: Keep it simple

For real beginners, simplicity is key. Start with the basics: greetings, simple vocabulary (numbers, colors, days of the week), and basic sentence structures. Use visuals, gestures, and real-life objects to aid understanding. The SmartClass Teaching Platform can be a great tool here, providing interactive activities and multimedia resources to engage students.

Tip 2: Focus on speaking and listening

At this stage, the emphasis should be on speaking and listening skills. Encourage students to repeat after you, engage in simple conversations, and listen to English as much as possible. The English curriculum on the SmartClass platform offers audio resources and interactive speaking exercises to support this focus. AI-powered pronunciation practice as well as segmented recordings help beginners practice listening and simple pronunciation, even when the teacher can't model it. 

A1 English Pronunciation Activity - Student view

Tip 3: Provide plenty of practice

Practice makes perfect, especially for beginners. Incorporate lots of repetition and practice activities into your lessons. Games, role-plays, and pair work can make practice fun and engaging. SmartClass offers a variety of interactive exercises and quizzes that provide instant feedback, allowing students to track their progress. Our ESL/ELL curriculum also includes lots of games, partner and group activities, and printable resources. Make sure to check out some of our most popular games

Tip 4: Be patient and supportive

Learning a new language can be challenging, so patience and encouragement are vital. Create a supportive learning environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes and asking questions. Positive reinforcement and praise can go a long way in boosting students' confidence.

Tip 5: Use real-life contexts

Help students see the relevance of what they're learning by using real-life contexts. For example, teach vocabulary related to daily routines, shopping, or ordering food in a restaurant. SmartClass's curriculum includes situational lessons that simulate real-life scenarios, making learning more practical and meaningful.

Tip 6: Incorporate cultural content

Language and culture are closely intertwined, so it's essential to expose students to English-speaking cultures. Integrate cultural content into your lessons through videos, music, and literature. Check out some of our "Cultural Notes" from our digital ESL curriculum below: 

Cultural Note from Let's Talk English A1

Cultural Note from Let's Talk English A1 - 2

Tip 7: Assess regularly

Regular assessment is crucial for tracking students' progress and identifying areas that need improvement. Use a variety of assessment methods, including quizzes, speaking tests, and written assignments. A progress monitoring tool can be highly effective and streamline such assessments. That's why SmartClass has a usage report for admins, teachers, but also students. They also need to take responsibility for their learning! 


Teaching English to real beginners can be a rewarding experience, albeit challenging. By keeping lessons simple, focusing on speaking and listening, providing plenty of practice, and creating a supportive learning environment, you can help your students build a strong foundation in English. With the SmartClass teaching platform and its comprehensive English curriculum, you have the tools you need to make learning engaging and effective for REAL beginners. Happy teaching!

Hannah Haase

Hannah Haase

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