Reality Check

Our students come to us with a preconceived notion about life. For them, reality revolves around what they have done, seen, spoken, and experienced up until the point that they meet you and I.

When there is a clear and direct path between English and our student’s native language, it’s somewhat simple to teach them. For example, there is word for yes, no, and thank you in every language. This makes sense to our students. They understand the idea of these particular words. We as teachers simply connect the dots between the reality of the English speaking world to the reality of our student’s native country.

But what about when we must move beyond simple vocabulary and teach critical ideas within a language? How are we to make sense of concepts that don’t translate directly from one language to another? For example, I live and teach in Korea. The Korean language does not have capital letters. There are no plural nouns. Articles don’t exist either. These ideas are necessary to properly using English. For us to be successful, these concepts must eventually make sense to our students.

How about you? How do you bridge the gap between your student’s ideas about a language and new ideas that he/she did not know even existed?

About The Author


Jake Hollingsworth is a 2010 graduate of English For Life Academy. Find him at