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The ESL Condiments

As English Teachers, it’s our job to identify, design, test and perfect all sorts of learning methods, and so-called “teaching tricks” to lead our students to success in the fastest time possible. And the more experienced we get, the more aces in our sleeves. Today I will share one with you that, in my view, never fails. It works every time and for every learner.

If you allow me an analogy, any recipe needs basic ingredients but also needs some extra flavour, which is most of the time given by salt and pepper, and a dash of whatever condiments complement the dish. Similarly, to learn English as a Second Language, one needs to acquire new vocabulary, to adhere to grammar rules and learn pronunciation - to name just a few of the basic ingredients. But on top of that, here come the spices: the words that help us describe things and actions: adjectives and adverbs.

As adjectives help describe things, people, ideas, it is easily understood why using them adds flavour to any language. The correct usage of adjectives and using them in the optimum amount, allow some aces in any learner’s sleeve as well. I have read many essays with some obvious grammar errors (with the use of tenses, for example), but they were solid and beautiful still, because of the accurate descriptions.

With readers’/interlocutors’ attention-span shrinking by the day, it seems like a good idea nowadays to focus on describing what, where and when something happened, the manner it happened, to what degree and with what frequency it happened, even more than describing what and how something is. Adverbs seem to me to be crucial players in communicating effectively in ESL.

And if a student can master the adverbs that determine not only verbs but adjectives and other adverbs as well, well, then they are on the right track of learning and using English in its most beautiful form.

And if as a Teacher, one can develop the taste of their students towards these descriptive words, then they are doing their students a great service.

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