by Anny Cheng





Since I have never formally taught English as a Second Language (ESL), my teaching philosophy is built upon ESL-related literature, knowledge I have gained from the TESOL program at CSULA, and my observation of ESL classrooms.  My teaching philosophy includes providing students with a supportive learning environment, helping them achieve communicative competence through meaningful activities, and meeting their needs to succeed in the English academic environment. 

It is my philosophy that by providing students with a friendly, supportive learning environment, I can help reduce their learning anxieties and therefore boost their learning progress.  This philosophy is based upon my personal experience and on Krashen’s “affective filter hypothesis”, which states that anxiety, stress, or tension may hinder a learner’s ability to learn (Krashen, 1982).  When students are relaxed, they will be able to focus on learning.  In addition, when they have no fear of embarrassment or negative criticism, they will be more willing to express their ideas and participate in class.  Thus, it is my goal to create an environment in which students feel comfortable to learn. 

Although it is important for students to learn the grammar of the target language (TL), it is equally, if not more, important for them to know how to use words and phrases to produce a meaningful whole, how to use the language in the social context, and how to use coping strategies in unfamiliar contexts (Savignon, 2001).  I can help students achieve communicative competence by providing them with opportunities for communicative events that focus on meaning instead of form.  For example, I can incorporate a variety of meaning-based activities that provide meaningful and relevant input the students can relate to.  If the students relate well to the theme/topic of the curriculum, they will be more motivated to use the TL to participate in communicative activities.  It is therefore very important to select a theme/topic that is relevant to the students.  I would also consider student interest and needs so as to include opportunities to develop them through TL use.

In addition to communicative competence, many ESL students also need to achieve academic competence in order to succeed in the English academic environment.  In their study of the American university ESL setting, Valentine and Repath-Martos (1997) showed that academic needs of the ESL students include language skills as well as study skills.  Thus, I believe that teaching English for academic purposes entails an additional component – addressing the students’ academic needs – that is not required in teaching for non-academic purposes.  Since each student population is different, I will conduct a needs analysis to discover the academic needs of my students (Hutchinson and Waters,1987).  Then I will plan activities to meet these needs.   For example, in order to improve their reading comprehension, I would plan activities to teach pre-reading and while-reading strategies.  Teaching academic skills is very important since they can be transferred to other non-ESL courses the students are or will be taking. 

Drawing from my knowledge of teaching ESL and personal experience as an ESL student, I have came to the conclusion that, regardless of one’s teaching backgrounds, a teacher needs to keep an open mind about the different teaching approaches, methods, and techniques.  I believe that as I gain more knowledge and experience in teaching ESL, my teaching philosophy will continue to evolve for the better. 



Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific purposes: A learning-centered 

            approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Krashen, S. D. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition.  Oxford: 



Savignon, S. J. (2001). Communicative language teaching for the  twenty-first century. 

            In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed), Teaching English as a second or foreign language 

            (3rd ed) (pp. 13-28). Boston, MA:  Heinle & Heinle.


Valentine, J. F., Jr., & Repath-Martos, L. M. (1997). How relevant is relevance? 

            In M. A. Snow & D. M. Brinton (Eds.), The content-based classroom: 

            perspectives on integrating language and content (pp. 233-247). White Plains, 

            NY: Longman.








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