Ready to get into mainstream classes? Tired of the same old ESL curriculum? Just wanting to move on? It is true that staying in ESL for too long can affect your motivation and can prevent you from moving forward. If you are going crazy in ESL and just want to move on, you should ask yourself if you really know what that change would mean for you, and think about whether or not you are prepared for the transition at this time.
It is often a challenge to get from ESL class into mainstream. It can at times feel like your biggest challenge, and you might feel that it is a nearly impossible task. However, your job of learning English will not be over once your are out of ESL, it will just change significantly. Once you get into mainstream classes, you have an opportunity to further improve with the immersion method. Your chances of learning through everyday interaction with classmates improves as well.
Getting into mainstream seems like a good goal, but before moving forward, it is important to do two things: understand what that transition would really mean, and then have the undying motivation (and support) to work towards that goal.
What are some key differences between ESL and Mainstream English Class?
Often ESL students are unclear about what the mainstream class is like and how it would differ not only from the ESL class but from their prior learning experiences. Below are a few key differences to think about and prepare for.
Listening is a key part of being successful in a mainstream class. Keeping up with what the teacher says and not getting stuck on her accent or vocabulary or even her intonation style is essential. Where an ESL teacher might pre-teach vocabulary and focus on language points such as idioms and grammar while teaching a reading passage, the mainstream teacher will not. There is a lot less time to get stuck on how the mainstream teacher is speaking, and following what is being said while also formulating your own opinion or questions about the topic is very important for a learner in a mainstream class. Where your ESL teacher might have waited for you to catch up with the class, the mainstream teacher will likely not.
Independent thinking is important in the Canadian education system. Rather than rote repetition or memorization, students are expected to use critical thinking, ask questions, and challenge themselves to find new ways of engaging with the concepts covered in class. A successful student, therefore, not only remembers key facts and figures taught in class, but understands how to personalize or express their opinion about topics, distinguish between concepts, challenge ways of doing things, discovers new ideas, demonstrates understanding, and develops extensions to the themes or topics. The way of demonstrating independent thinking can be through sharing ideas during discussion time, or through completing project work or writing assignments.
Opportunities to make friends in Mainstream. Another way in which ESL and mainstream classes differ is that a student in a mainstream class will likely have the opportunity to make friends outside of their language group. Because language and culture work together, it is important to make some Canadian friends. Your mainstream peers will help you to get a more well-rounded understanding of how Canadians think. You will be more successful in Canada if you continually ask yourself the question, How do Canadians think? The more you learn about how Canadians think, the easier it will be to become a fluent English speaker. Your new friends will give you a glimpse into another life here in Canada, and you will learn a lot more spoken English as a result.
How Can I Begin to Work Towards Getting Out of ESL?
Although it is possible to get into mainstream with hard work and dedication on your own, it often takes a little help from your friends. Little Mountain Learning Academy uses steps, strategies, and structure to help students get out of ESL. The tutors focus on ESL students but tailor their classes towards mainstream class success. This means that at Little Mountain you will get what you need to improve your English now, while acquiring a solid understanding of how to work towards the goal of succeeding in mainstream classes. With the goal of getting into mainstream classes, your support team at Little Mountain will help your child reach success. Give us a call at 604-221-2363 to see how we can help your child succeed!