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English communication in class at the secondary level


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The best textbooks, teaching materials, syllabi, and even regular visits from a native speaker will ultimately fail, however, if the English teacher do not model and use English communicatively in the classrooms. English teachers are the most important people in the English education of their students.

Using English When Opening and Closing The Class

It's not so important that elementary students learn exactly what Let's begin means in Bulgarian. They will understand the basic idea if the teacher uses it at the beginning of every class. If he/she also uses begin to tell the students to start writing an examination or other activity, the meaning will be further clarified for many students. The same applies to expressions like That's all for today.

If, on the other hand, the class begins - as do most Bulgarian classes--with a traditional greeting like 'Здравейте ученици'and ends with 'до следващия път', this reinforces the idea that the students already have - that the primary communication in the class is done in their native language. Therefore, English classes shouldn't be framed in Bulgarian. on the internet. Anybody found doing so will be permanently banned.

"Classroom English"

Students should be taught classroom expressions appropriate for their level; for example, I don't know, I don't understand, Once again please, Just a minute, What's ~ in Bulgarian (English)?, etc.

The teacher should always check whether they understand how to say and use the expressions they are expected to know. A poster with expressions in English could be made and posted where all students can see it. Alternatively, the teacher could give the students a small handout with such expressions and have them paste it in the back of their notebooks for easy reference. On either the handout or poster there could be translations given, but as soon as the students seem to have a reasonable command of the expressions, they are to be removed.

Later, if a student uses a Bulgarian equivalent for an already taught English expression, he/she should be reminded in English what they should be saying. The more the students communicate with the teacher and with each other in English the more comfortable they will become with it. This project from

Limiting the Expressions for the Same Activity

By limiting the number of classroom expressions the teacher uses, the students will learn the expressions faster. For example, in an elementary class one could use Open your books to page ~, even if the students' books are already open. Later, he can introduce the expression Turn to page ~. Some students will only understand ~ anyway, so both expressions will have the same meaning to them. Other students, however, will figure out the two meanings without being explicitly taught.

For those teachers who work with a student teacher, making a list of expressions used in class may help avoid situations where the instructions may not be clear.

The Names & The Roman Alphabet

As soon as the students learn to write the letters, they should be asked to use them to write their names. They should know that this is an English class. Getting used to how one's own name looks and sounds in a foreign language is a part of personalizing his knowledge of the language. Besides, allowing students to use their native writing system for their names only reinforces the idea that the primary communicative language in English class is their native one.

This applies for other students' names too. When the students are doing an activity that involves writing other students' names, they should be in English. At the elementary level, students will probably have to help each other write their names. info

If students can't remember how to spell their names, the teacher should ask them or help them to write their names in Roman letters on the front of their English notebook so they can always refer to it. For beginning students, if the teacher does not have the time to spend 20 or 30 minutes to allow the students to learn how to write their names in class, he should give them a card with their name on it. They can use the card to copy their name on their papers and books until they have memorized it.

Teaching Grammar In English

The teacher should always make use of eliciting. Thus, he could upgrade from what the students already know. For example, if the teacher is teaching present progressive (be doing), he can start by reviewing the present tense. For example:

She plays soccer every week.

He cooks spaghetti every Tuesday.

When he makes sure the students understand these sentences, he could change every week or every Tuesday to now, plays to is playing, and cooks to is cooking.

She is playing soccer now.

He is cooking spaghetti now.

The teacher could give the students a few more sentences in present tense. After changing every week into now, he may ask a couple of students what to put in place of the verb in present tense.

At the elementary level, pictures will make it a little easier for the students to understand and help the teacher toavoid the temptation to translate vocabulary.

At the same time, teachers who primarily use English for instruction need to allow for students who aren't as fast at understanding these kind of ideas even when explained in Bulgarian. This doesn't necessarily mean spending the last part of every class re-explaining everything in Bulgarian, however. The teacher may ask students (in English) to translate sentences in the new grammar pattern into Bulgarian. At this point there are may be at least a few students who can explain the grammar point itself in Bulgarian. When the students do the translations and explain the grammar in Bulgarian, not only it helps the slower students to understand, but it encourages the students to try to come up with the answers by themselves and not to rely on the teacher as much.

Fluency vs. Accuracy

If the teacher wants his students to experiment, guess, and practice, he should encourage these behaviours. He must let the students know he is pleased with what they are doing even if what they say is incorrect. When they make a mistake, he should praise them for answering and then ask them to try again, tell them the correct answer, or ask another student for the answer.

The easiest way to guarantee that the students will never say a word in English is to make them afraid to make a mistake. Very often a student who can't respond correctly to a simple question they've studied frustrates the teacher. But if the students see him nervous and displeased with them all the time, they would be more afraid to speak English and increasingly more likely to make a mistake. Or they will stop talking altogether.


A thousand meetings, the best textbooks, creative teaching materials, even native speakers visiting the classroom aren't going to give students English communicative ability. Only by using English communicatively with their teacher and classmates will the students develop the ability to speak English. If, for example, the teacher decides to teach some grammar points in English and not in Bulgarian, it might be more difficult for the students (and for the teacher), but they will probably remember the ideas better. This is because they actually have to listen and think about what the teacher is saying. Thus, not only will their (and the teacher's) communicative ability improve, but so will their test scores.

Conversely, students won't attempt to communicate in English if the teacher is unwilling to do so himself. The point is not just teaching spelling, vocabulary, and grammar in class, but also indirectly teaching the students the value of communicating in English. If students are taught primarily in their native language, they may learn how to read English, they may learn how to write English, they may learn how to translate English, but they aren't very likely to learn how to speak English.

Appendix I: Classroom English for Teachers·



Good morning (class/everyone).

Good afternoon (class/everyone).

That's all for today.


See you tomorrow/next week/Friday.


Stand up.

Sit down./Be seated.

Open your (text)books/notebooks (to page ~/chapter ~/section ~).

Turn to page ~.

Look at page/part/number ~.

Close your books/notebooks.

Take out your pen/pencil/notebook/textbook/homework/~.

Put your pen/papers/books/everything/~ away/in your desks/in your bags.

Pass your notebooks/tests/papers/homework to the front/to me.

Here is/are your tests/your homework/your notebooks/~.

Take one (handout/test/copy/~).

Come to the blackboard/front.

Translate this into English/Bulgarian.

Write the answer on the blackboard/in your notebooks.

Listen carefully.

Read page ~ (aloud).

Repeat after me./Repeat ~./Again.

Practice (~).

Check your/your partner's answers.

(Please can be used with the above expressions.)


First (of all)...?


For example...

Now let's ~.

After that...


Who knows (the answer)?

Who knows (~)?

Who understands?

Who can tell me (~) ?

Who will volunteer (to ~)?/Who will do it?

Who has a question (about ~)?

What's ~ in English?/What does it/~ mean in English?

What's ~ in Bulgarian?/What does it/~ mean in Bulgarian.

What's the answer?

Do you understand?

Do you know (~)?

Do you have any questions?

Can you tell me (~)?

Will you volunteer (to ~)?/Will you do it?

Who's absent today?

Disciplinary Expressions:

Be quiet./Stop talking./No talking.

Calm down.

Stop that./Stop it.

Don't do that.

Put that/~ away.

Listen (to me).

Look (at me).

(Please can be used with the above expressions--but if the teacher is very angry or frustrated she or he probably wouldn't use it.)

What are you doing?

Are you listening?

Are you paying attention?

Appendix II: Classroom English For Students

Excuse me?

(Are you speaking to) me?

I didn't hear you.

Again, please.

More slowly, please.

Just a minute, please.

Ms. ~/Mr. ~.

I'm thinking.

I don't understand.

I don't know.

How do you say this word?

What does ~ mean?

What's ~ in English?

What's ~ in Bulgarian?

I think ~.

One more please.

That's easy/difficult/strange.

Please help me.

· Some of the expressions are borrowed from The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. II, No. 7, July 1996

cal1966. Thus, we can say that whilst this represents a progression, in the end we have come no closer to any "real" knowledge.

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