Anyone who is learning a new language can easily be overwhelmed. There are new words and new pronunciations to learn and none of it makes any sense at first. English can be particularly difficult to learn due to our word variations and spelling variations. Because of this, most English as a second language classes will include functional practice. This is putting the words learned into action.
Conversational English: This is used to practice words used in everyday conversations. It gives the students practical applications for the words and sentences they are learning. The benefit of using conversational English is that the student can both memorize the words and fit them into a conversation. This is most often done between two students who are trying to practice their English.
Role Playing: Often, this is done between the instructor and the student. The instructor will play the part of a waiter or another person with whom the student may have to speak. The student hears the English spoken from the instructor and also responds in English. This also puts practical use to the words and phrases that have been learned and also gives the student the opportunity to recognize words in English being spoken.
Practical Applications: Once the students become more familiar with the language, the instructor may set up a field trip of sorts. The idea is to actually get the students in a public situation where they need to understand and be able to speak English. The instructor intervenes only when necessary.
Writing: There are many different applications used to practice writing English including essays and stories. Learning to spell the language is an entirely different experience than learning to speak it.
Singing: Singing is another way to practice putting the language to use. The students learn to substitute the English words for their native language in familiar songs.
The more practical applications that can be used when teaching English the better the student learns. Totally absorbing the student in language application slowly builds up to a virtual sink or swim situation in which the student will either take part in and understand the exchange or be completely unaware of what is being said.
Of course, these immersion sessions are done after a buildup of learning and practicing the language. The more practical applications that can be used when learning English, the better understood the language will be. Functional practice ensures that the student will be able to express themselves in different situations and also be able to understand what is being said to them.
Over time, the English language becomes more familiar and begins to make more sense since they have used it in many different practical situations. This method of instruction has proven very successful and is used widely to teach English as a second language. While the student may not learn every nuance of the language, they have the opportunity to practice it and come to a point where they understand English and are able to make themselves understood when speaking it.