Acronyms: an educator's best friend. To avoid confusion from the offset, ESL stands for English as a Second Language.

In layman terms, it describes non-native English speakers that have decided to embark upon the fulfilling journey of learning one of the world's most popular and commonly spoken languages.

Predominantly spoken across most countries in the world, it is the co-official language of the United Nations, The European Union as well as a plethora of world and regional international organizations.

It became the lingua franca, which loosely stands for the bridge/linking language used to make communication possible between individuals/groups of people during the period of WWII (1939-1945).

And to this day it remains the most commonly spoken language in the world, although it is actually third to standard Chinese and Spanish when considering native speakers across the world.

So, other than the fact that it is the most widely spoken language, why else would it be of importance to learn English?

Well, here are a few reasons as to why, in modern-day society, speaking English fluently is such an integral component of one's skillset:

  • It makes it easier when traveling

As the world's 'second' language, there is more chance of communicating with people in English across the world when the tourist isn't familiar with the countries' original mother tongue.

Also, traveling across other American cities including Boston, Houston and Philadelphia will make it much easier to communicate!

  • Fluent English skills can support an applicant in securing a job opportunity

More and more companies across the world are listing English as a fundamental skillset when advertising for job positions.

The world is becoming increasingly international so effective use of English has never been so sought after as it is today.

  • It's the language of the entertainment and media industries

Mostly, content that is found online (including this article), is usually written in English. Also, some of the largest news outlets and entertainment platforms, from Netflix, HBO to Disney+, produce content that is mainly in English.

As you can see, there are multiple reasons why learning English is a good idea, and the examples aforementioned are only the tip of the iceberg.

Diversity In The Windy City

According to U.S. News publication (2020), Chicago was ranked as the 10th most diverse city in the United States.

Aside from English, there are several other languages spoken across the city. It is said that almost 30% of the cities population speak a different language when they are at home, and the other popular languages spoken include Spanish, Arabic, Polish, and variations of Chinese.

Vera, the Institute of Justice stated that 1.7 million residents in the city have migrated from foreign lands and constitute to around 18% of the population.

The Chicago skyline under the clouds.
Whether it's the North, West or South side. Specialist ESL Tutors can be found across the city. (Source: Visualhunt)

Finding ESL Tutors In Chicago

As discussed earlier, with the cities population composing of a large percentage of those who have immigrated, there is a huge demand for ESL Tutors.

Not alone are one-to-one tutors required, but there are additional educational professionals in public & private schools to support children who need to develop their language skills.

Yet, don't be fooled if you believe it is only children that require such support.

Many adults who arrive in the city also have the opportunity to embark upon ESL specific courses and educational programs to help acclimatize and settle into their new surroundings.

Superprof is a fantastic way to find specialist English language tutors and experienced teachers.

With a quick search on their homepage, you will find over 50 specialist ESL Tutors as well as 289 (and counting) Tutors that offer general English classes.

The great thing about this platform is that you can contact the tutors directly, enquiring of their locality, organizing logistics, consulting hourly rates as well as identifying particular specializations (if required).

Furthermore, most of the tutors advertise their services by offering a free first lesson!

To help the student to identify who is the perfect fit to support them in developing their English, it is encouraged that you try more than one tutor to start so you can make a comparison, and to see finally how best that tutor will accommodate toward your learning goals & motivations.

Students study in a dim-lit cafe.
Tutoring sessions can be conducted in a more formal setting, at home, or even in a local cafe! (Source: Visualhunt)

The Foundations of Learning English

It is said that to learn a new language effectively, it requires a student to work holistically upon a variance of strategies to gain fluency.

The four main areas of learning are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. And, if practiced in conjunction with each other, the student will undoubtedly see developments in their understanding and confidence in the English language.

Reading and listening are said to be passive forms of this rule. This is because the student is receiving information from an external source.

Speaking and writing however are considered to be the active form of language learning. This is because the student is producing words, formulating sentences, and experimenting with language independently.

A common mistake when it comes to learning English is that students often prioritize either of these four core areas, leading to an imbalance within their exposure, thus leading to a reduced rate of proficiency.

Usually, when a student is finding a challenge in speaking, this tends to be because of shyness and a lack of confidence.

It is imperative that the tutor instills a sense of confidence within their students, and that the learner should never be afraid to make a mistake.

Good people are good because they have come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success. - William Saroyan

The words, both poignant and inspirational in nature. Mistakes should be looked at as a positive within the learning process.

Psychologist Janet Metcalfe claims that avoiding mistakes in the everyday American classroom is, unfortunately, a regular occurrence, and studies have shown that focusing on errors helps students to identify the answers.

A student studies in a local library.
Learning a language is no easy fit. It takes perseverance, commitment and consistency. (Source: Visualhunt)

Identifying Goals for ESL Students in Chicago

Upon finding the ideal ESL Tutor in Chicago, one of the initial lessons will be to identify motivations, followed by setting short and long term goals that are in accordance with the student's desires and current English speaking level.

A student's motivations may well be to enhance their writing skills in the desire to be accepted to a higher educational establishment.

Another motivation could be to enhance one's reading skills to help them get a better score in their SAT's.

The motivations, again, MUST reflect goals that are set and there are various strategies to consider before an ESL Tutor is even hired.

Such strategies are used by educators across the United States, from class teachers in Los Angeles to ESL tutors in New York!

S.M.A.R.T. setting goal system is commonly used across the States and other English speaking countries. Like ESL, it is an acronym and this is labeled and described below:

  • Specific - firstly, the goal must be clear, concise, and completely reflective of the supposed outcome.
  • Measurable - the tutor must outline specific criteria in which is relative to the goal, so the developments/improvements of the student can be analyzed throughout different periods of time.
  • Achievable/Attainable - this is to ensure that the student doesn't become disheartened by unrealistic, unachievable goals. They must be set in alignment with the student's ability to progress.
  • Relative - they must be relative to your desired goals and relevant to your life purpose.
  • Timely - a clearly defined timetable should be created by your tutor to ensure targets are being met periodically.

This is a very common style of goal setting as it covers the various elements required to identify and assess developments throughout a particular course of time.

Upon choosing a preferred ESL Tutor, it would be unfitting not to discuss personal motivations and set periodical goals as this is the most effective way in reaching a desired outcome.

Not only does goal setting help to assess an ESL student's development, but it also incentivizes the student, thus creating more confidence and motivation to succeed.

As discussed earlier, the large scale of tutors on the Superprof website, mostly offering free first lessons, is a great way to identify who will be the best educator for you!

Before paying for a set amount of lessons, it would be best to discuss personal motivations and ask how goals and assessment strategies will be implemented.

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Christopher