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Absolute Beginner English: The 20 Point Program

Absolute Beginner English: The 20 Point Program



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Absolute beginners in English can be distinguished from false beginners. Absolute beginners are learners who have had no or very little English instruction. False beginners are English learners who have studied English in school - often for a number of years - but never acquired any real grasp of the language.

False beginners will often pick up speed as they remember past lessons. Absolute beginners, on the other hand, will progress slowly and acquire each point methodically. If teachers jump ahead in the order or begin to include language that absolute learners are not familiar with, things can become confusing quickly.

Teaching absolute beginners requires the teacher to pay special attention to the order in which a new language is introduced. The teacher lesson plan plays an essential role in making sure that new grammar is introduced slowly and successfully. This 20 point program provides a syllabus to take students from speaking no English at all, to be able to fulfill basic communication needs including; giving personal information and describing their daily routines and the world around them.

Obviously, there is a lot more to speaking English confidently than these twenty points. This 20 point program has been designed to provide a strong base on which to build while, at the same time, providing learners with the most important language skills they will need to get going.

Order of Introduction: The Teacher Lesson Plan

When teaching absolute beginners, it is very important to proceed methodically building on what has been introduced. Here is a progressive list of points to be taught in order to build up the 20 points listed above. Most of the points have specific lessons teaching various grammar and usage skills. In the case of definite and indefinite articles and basic prepositions, the points are taught through assimilation throughout the various lessons, as the explanations required would involve vocabulary skills beyond the means of most absolute beginners.

These exercises will appear very simple to you, and you might even feel that they are insulting. Remember that the students are taking very little steps to quickly establish a base on which to build.

Grammar and Parts of Speech

Here is a list of what is covered in the 20 point program, as well as a brief description and/or list of what is included in each point:

  • Greetings/Introductions: Basic small talk including 'How are you'
  • Numbers 1 - 100: Pronunciation, counting skills, telephone numbers
  • Alphabet/Spelling Skills
  • Demonstrative Pronouns: Recognizing the connection between 'this, here' as opposed to 'that, there'.
  • Present of the Verb 'to be': Conjugation of the verb, question and negative forms for all subjects.
  • Basic Descriptive Adjectives: Ability to describe objects simply
  • Basic prepositions use: in, at, to, on, etc.
  • There Is, There Are: Difference between singular and plural, question and negative form
  • Some, Any, Much, Many: When to use some and any in the positive, negative and question forms. Questions using much and many
  • Question Words: The use of 'wh-' question words as well as 'how much' and 'how many'
  • Adverbs of Frequency: The use of adverbs of frequency such as: always, often, sometimes, never
  • Subject Pronouns: I, You, He, She, It, We, You, They
  • Possessive Adjectives: My, Your, His, Her, (Its), Our, Your, Their
  • Basic Adjectives
  • Articles: Basic rules for definite and indefinite articles, a, an, the
  • Present Simple: The use of the present simple for describing everyday routines.

Building Vocabulary

  • Greetings
  • Providing Name and Personal Information (phone number and address)
  • How to Tell the Time
  • Time Expressions: Using 'in the morning', 'in the afternoon', 'in the evening', 'at night', and 'at' with time.
  • Talking About Daily Habits and Routines
  • Basic English Words


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