When teaching beginners, usually the following steps apply:
1) Use some games to teach very basic, easy vocabulary.
Flashcards, for example, can be both fun and effective.
2) Teach the sounds of the English alphabet.
English is pretty tricky, in a way, since the same letter can represent many different sounds!
This can be VERY confusing for beginners, especially if they have just learned the English alphabet.
For example, they have just learned that “e” is pronounced like the “e” in “bed,” and “a” is pronounced like the “a” in “hat.”
Then you read together a simple short story that uses only the simple, common words . . .
Like “make” and “take,” which immediately violate that rule, don’t they?
It’s true you can (and should!) teach the different spelling patterns, and how they are pronounced. (In our example these are the silent “e”, and the long “a” sounds.)
But you can’t really do it all at once.
The step-by-step approach is the way to go — one sound at a time.
Start practicing reading with simple, one-syllable words, such as: box, fox, cat, hat, bed, pen, and so forth. Introduce new sounds gradually .
Wait with the common yet complicated words such as “are,” “have,” “would,” and “know” until the student is comfortable with the simple, basic sounds.
It’s true these are very common, important words in the English language, but when taught at the wrong stage they can provide unnecessary spelling confusion.
You can always teach them a bit later on, when the student is more confident.
This sort of gradual approach will bring the best results within the minimum amount of time, by far.
Ola Zur is the editor of Really Learn English Vocabulary and Easy English Grammar, an illustrated guide to English.