5 Best Practices for Teaching English as a Second Language in India

5 Best Practices for Teaching English as a Second Language in India

Home - Education - 5 Best Practices for Teaching English as a Second Language in India
Best Practices for Teaching English

Importance of Learning English in Today’s World

Language not only defines us as humans but also facilitates communication. While India boasts a rich and diverse linguistic heritage, English has woven itself into the very fabric of Indian life. For many, English is learned as a second language, serving as a bridge in global communication. Its stature in India is significant, influencing education, employment, and culture alike. 

Proficiency in English paves the way for students, offering various opportunities for personal and professional growth. Many Indian institutions of higher learning require a strong command of the English language. 

Additionally, the global job market seeks English-proficient professionals, and mastery over the language can usher in a plethora of career prospects across sectors. English proficiency also aids students aiming for international education. For those enrolled in English or semi-English medium schools, a strong grasp of the language can bolster their performance in other subjects. With the internet being an indispensable reservoir of knowledge, it’s noteworthy that English remains the dominant language online, underscoring the need for effective English reading and writing skills in this digital age.

Also Read: 5 Tips for Making English Teaching Interesting

Challenges Faced While Teaching English to Indian Students as a Second Language:

Translation dilemma:

Accustomed to their native tongues, Indian students often resort to direct translation when grappling with English. However, such a method isn’t always effective and can lead to ambiguities. For instance, translating thoughts directly might result in phrases like “My health is bad today” instead of the more appropriate “I am feeling unwell today.”

Lack of English-speaking environment:

Irrespective of urban or rural backgrounds, a significant number of students lack an environment conducive to practicing English, both at home and in their immediate surroundings. Even in schools claiming to impart education in English, conversations frequently revert to Hindi or regional languages, depriving students of consistent exposure to English.

Limited Vocabulary:

Linked to the translation challenge, limited vocabulary often hinders effective communication. The absence of direct translations for certain English phrases or words, coupled with the disparities between regional languages and English, often results in students juggling languages. Expanding their vocabulary becomes imperative for achieving fluency in English.


Grammatical errors:

English grammar, distinct in structure and rules from Indian languages, poses significant challenges. While memorization is emphasized, it’s pivotal to understand that grammar rules in English can be context-specific. Without a proper understanding of their application, students might falter, even more so with incorrect pronunciation, affecting their confidence.

Peer pressure:

The classroom environment can be a double-edged sword. As students attempt to practice English, they might face ridicule from their peers, leading to diminished confidence and even reluctance in pursuing their linguistic journey.

Also Read: Master these skills to improve English Teaching in 6 easy steps

How to Employ Some Efficient Teaching Practices to Overcome These Challenges? 

1. Understand purpose and set goals:

Understanding the purpose enhances students’ motivation. Clearly articulate why learning English as a second language is crucial. When students comprehend the reasoning, they are more driven in their learning journey. Teachers should set achievable goals while being aware of the desired outcomes. 

Encourage students to set SMART goals related to English learning. For instance:

  • Specific: Develop a broader vocabulary.
  • Measurable: Track the number of new words learned each week and their usage in daily practice.
  • Achievable: If a student aims to learn ten new words daily, ascertain its feasibility.
  • Relevant: Ensure the words learned have practical applications.
  • Time-bound: Set a timeline, such as mastering vocabulary to craft a short story within a month.

2. Emphasize practical application of grammar:

While Indian students often excel in English grammar tests, many falter in its practical application. Post teaching specific grammatical concepts, prompt students to employ them in crafting sentences, detailing daily experiences, or penning letters. Grammar paraphrasing is a potent tool. Ask students to rephrase paragraphs or sentences using diverse grammatical structures, enhancing their understanding of grammar’s nuances.

3. Use different learning styles and activities:

Adopting student-centric teaching methods enhances engagement. Integrate visuals, audio stories, charts, and videos into lessons. Foster experiential learning through group discussions, debates, and role-playing. Screening short films or animations can bolster students’ listening and reading abilities. Rotating teaching strategies – like worksheets, games, and participative activities – ensures sustained interest.

4. Improve phrases and vocabulary :

Rich vocabulary amplifies communication efficacy. Teachers can familiarize students with new words, facilitate understanding, and promote their application in diverse contexts. For example, replacing familiar words with their synonyms can expand vocabulary. Utilizing visuals, gestures, and objects in association with words fosters better retention.

5. Use technology and gamification:

Harness the power of technology to revitalize teaching methods. The digital age offers a plethora of tools to make lessons interactive and engaging. Employ presentations, games, puzzles, quizzes, and assessments via platforms like Google Forms to gauge student progress. Integrating physical activities, such as jumping on the correct spelling, can be both educational and enjoyable. Gamification, through its playful approach, ensures students are engrossed while reducing stress.


Teaching English as a second language in India poses unique challenges but is an immensely rewarding endeavour. English educators play a pivotal role, arming students with vital linguistic skills essential in our globalized world. While every teacher has their distinctive style, this article aims to equip educators with enhanced insights and strategies for their pedagogical journey.


1. How can English be effectively taught as a language?

There are more than one-size-fits-all methods for teaching ESL, as the effectiveness depends on the needs and learning preferences of the students. However, several proven approaches tend to produce outcomes:
Interactive Teaching Approach: Emphasize the use of English for everyday communication. Students engage in speaking, listening, reading and writing within contexts.
Student-Focused Education: Encourage student participation in their learning process. This may involve discussions, games, projects and assignments that allow them to apply English skills authentically.
Personalized Instruction: Tailor teaching strategies to accommodate student capabilities and learning styles. This could entail utilizing resources, exercises and instructional techniques based on needs.

2. What is good practice in English teaching?

Here are some widely recognized good practices in ESL teaching:
Clear and Simple Language: Use appropriate language for your student’s level. Break down complex grammar and vocabulary.
Visual Aids: Utilize pictures, charts, flashcards, and realia (objects) to enhance understanding.
Error Correction: Provide constructive feedback on mistakes in a way that encourages learning, not discourages students.
Positive Reinforcement: Celebrate students’ efforts and progress to build confidence.
Variety of Activities: Incorporate activities like games, role-playing, and discussions to keep students engaged.

3. How do you teach the four skills of English?

The four essential English skills are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Here’s a basic approach to teaching each:
Listening: Use authentic listening materials like songs, dialogues, and lectures. Students practice comprehension through activities like answering questions or summarizing.
Speaking: Provide opportunities for conversation and discussions. Use role-playing, pair work, and debates to encourage spoken communication.
Reading: Start with texts relevant to students’ interests and gradually increase difficulty. Tasks include answering questions, finding specific information, or summarizing the text.
Writing: Focus on clear communication and proper grammar for the intended audience. Scaffold writing tasks by providing prompts, outlines, or sentence starters.

4. What are the key principles for teaching English to native speakers?

Here are six fundamental guidelines for ESL instruction:
Emphasize Communication: Focus on using English in situations rather than just focusing on grammar rules.
Student-Centred Approach: Encourage students to engage in their learning process.
Engaging Activities: tasks and exercises that are meaningful and interesting for students.
Understanding Language Acquisition: Be aware of how language is acquired and create a supportive learning atmosphere.
Assessment Strategies: Use assessments to guide your teaching methods and provide student feedback.
Cultural Respect: Acknowledge and value the linguistic backgrounds of your students.

Related Blogs: