How to Learn a Language/Notes for teachers

Notes for teachersEdit

See also: How to Teach a Language.

Tips for teaching vocabulary:

  • Use motion, not just memorizing.
  • Sometimes it helps to know the etymology of a vocabulary word. This is particularly useful for learning languages in the same family as your native language. For example, an Anglophone learning German might find it useful to associate the word "fahren" (to drive) with the English cognate "fare." Likewise, "sauber" (clean) has the English cognate "sober." Wiktionary is typically a good tool for looking up etymology.


Discuss a controversial topic to get people talking. Take appropriate caution when dealing with sensitive topics, of course,[1] though don't be afraid to ask if they want to talk about a topic.


  • My country: right or wrong?
  • Is colonialism still going on today?

Writing and translatingEdit

Exercise for intermediate to advanced students:

Contribute to Wikipedia (or other Wikimedia project) in the target language. You can use the Wikipedia article of your own language as a source for information.

  • Write a stub article on a topic you know about.
  • Expand an article (perhaps by just a sentence or paragraph, depending.)
  • Find appropriate links in the target language, as alternatives to them, links in the source language.
  • Many lesson plans can be found here: Lesson Plans - Teaching in China

Alternatively, the student may wish to write about the language, by adding to the Wikibook on that language.


  1. For example, discussing Tibet and Taiwan when teaching English in China. Some English teachers report that they discuss such issues with no problems. - see also the discussions TOP 10 TABOO CLASSROOM DISCUSSION TOPICS FOR NEWCOMERS at Dave's ESL Cafe) and What is the correct role of an EFL teacher in China ......... Of course, use your own discretion. It will partly depend on the sensitivity you show and your willingness to hear their opinions, as well as the particular setting and particular students.

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