10 ways to make the best out of your ESL class

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Are you feeling nervous about what to expect in an ESL class? Don’t worry. Read this list to know what happens in an ESL class so that you will be ready for it:

  1. Come prepared

    The first day of any class can be stressful. You don’t know what to expect and who you‘ll meet. You might even get lost. Prevent this by finding out where your class is located a few days before it starts. Use Google maps. Have a plan for asking for directions to find the classroom when you arrive. You will be less worried when you’re prepared.

  2. Come equipped

    Bring a pen, highlighter, ruler, binder, notebook and some loose leaf paper. You can buy these at large grocery stores and dollar stores. The best time to buy is before September when there are back-to-school sales.

  3. Read the course outline carefully

    A course outline is given to students at the beginning of a class. It describes the course and the topics or goals for the course. It will also have dates of assignments, tests, quizzes and any other activities as well as the instructor’s contact details.

  4. Participate!

    ESL instructors offer different classroom activities so you have a chance to interact with others and practice your language skills. You may have to read an article quietly or complete certain activities yourself. There will also be group discussions, pair work, and even a group presentation. You will get plenty of opportunities to speak, ask questions, state your opinions and present your findings. If you are nervous about public speaking or sharing your opinions in class, remember that an ESL class is a safe place to make mistakes. Everyone else is learning as well. Start small – share your opinions with a partner, ask questions, and work your way to sharing it with the class.

  5. Create a vocabulary journal

    Some teachers require students to make vocabulary journal as part of the course. But even if your instructor doesn’t, it is a good idea to have one. A vocabulary journal is a list of new words you’ve learnt. Create a table with two columns – one for the word and the other for the meaning of the word. Look up the meaning of the word in a dictionary and study how it was used. Work on your vocabulary journal every week.

  6. Speak to your instructor

    Your instructor is there to help you. Talk to them if you can’t make it class and why. Tell them about issues you may have about the course like difficulties in understanding a lesson, problems with your schedule or if you’re dealing with a difficult classmate. You can ask quick questions during break time or right before or after a class. Schedule an appointment with your instructor if you have a more complicated concern.

  7. Know your classmates

    Your classmates are the best people to practice your English language skills with! You can feel comfortable making grammatical errors or mispronouncing your words because everyone is learning and making similar mistakes. Ask them what strategies they use for improving their English. Talk to them about settling in Canada. Many friendships are made in ESL classes because of the shared experience of settling into a new country.

  8. Create a study plan

    Make a study plan and stick to it. Schedule several hours every week for checking your work, studying for tests and completing assignments. Keep your timetable (with all the important dates clearly marked) in a visible area to keep you on track.

  9. Use materials outside of your class

    Not everything will be covered by your ESL class. Use online materials like free worksheets, read articles or practice pronunciation using videos. Here are some online resources you should check out.

    Don’t forget your local library for ESL workbooks and audio resources. You will need a library card to access the materials.

  10. Have fun!

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Community Resources

The University of Manitoba offers an Intensive Academic English Program (IEP) if you need to improve your English to attend higher studies.

The Enhanced English Skills for Employment Program is focused in teaching English used in the workplace.

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