How can I teach English articles to foreigners?
March 10, 2005 3:09 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to teach adult ESL students (Polish engineers) how to use articles ("a" or "the" or nothing)?
posted by pracowity to Education (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The book The Handbook of Technical Writing is the one I use at the Writing Center where I work. I'm the tutor for informatics, library science, and information management students, and my supervisor is in technical communications & engineering; we both have a lot of ESL students, and this is the book she gave me. It addresses basic grammar rules like articles, verb agreement, etc., as well as some things like resume writing, memos, and other more in-depth and sometimes domain-specific aspects of technical writing.
If you look inside the book you'll see that the first page of content is about a/an.

Amazon is selling another book we use, a less grammar-oriented and more writing-process oriented one, as a package with that one: Technical Communication.
posted by librarina at 9:10 AM on March 10, 2005

A recent AskMe thread on indefinite articles may be of use.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2005

Ask a Russian/Polish speaker who knows English well. Grammar is explained much better by people who have learned it than by native speakers. I'd also suggest contacting Richard Robin at GWU - he's excellent at teaching Russian and may help you find resources. Let him know that Laura sent you, I'm a previous student of his and a friend, and recently mined him for info on mantaining my Russian via language CDs.
posted by lorrer at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2005

One thing I learnt from teaching english in Hanoi last year (after doing TEFL course) was that multiple references are the best way to go - I found I often needed more than 1 approach - because it's hard to tell what your audience will respond to best (multiple factors affect this from education/intelligence level to extent and nature of previous exposure to english to syntax of native language etc).
Multiple examples are always needed and it's hard to be imaginitive on one's feet without a deeper well from which to draw. I would read one text/website/lesson plan and think that a particular language point would be a breeze only to be confronted by blank faces.
A certain amount of empathetic logic will help steer a teacher towards better quality preparation material of course, but it is hard to predict whether it will 'catch' all the students.

There's a lot of v. good english lesson sites online.
I have a list of good sites, but not with me atm.

The hassle about googling is that it's difficult to sort wheat from chaff - many require registration and then it's usually at least a few minutes to find out if they have decent stuff for free and to what depth. There's of course a wide range out there and many cost (for pittance return).

Email me if you want me to dig the links up - it's np.
(But the 1st place I'd start would be a basic grammar text book)
posted by peacay at 10:04 AM on March 10, 2005

Best answer: Antimoon is a great site for questions like this, and it's run by native Polish speakers with a jaw-dropping command of English. You'll get good answers if you ask over there and I'm pretty sure the exact question can be found in the archives.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:13 AM on March 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, everyone gave me good tips on how to get to an answer or two, so thanks to everyone. Wolfdog's tip looks most promising for this particular problem, considering that I'm looking for tips on teaching English to Polish engineers and he showed me a place run by a Polish engineer who teaches English. Thanks, Jacob. I'll try
posted by pracowity at 12:29 PM on March 10, 2005

I'm actually teaching this tomorrow. Purdue's website seems to be pretty good and hopefully the lesson will go well tomorrow for my first-year computer science students here. Good luck.
posted by faux ami at 1:02 PM on March 10, 2005

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