Robert McDougal of Orange County Discusses Full Submersion to Get ESL Students to Start Thinking in English

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Thinking in English is easy for most of us since that’s the only way we know how to think, but for those born and raised speaking a different language, it might seem almost impossible. However, Robert McDougal of Orange County says certain methods of teaching ESL classes can help learners make the transition faster.

“I’ve had students,” Robert McDougal of Orange County begins, “who have to stop and think before they speak each time.” This isn’t an ideal situation as the goal is not memorization nor translation of certain words. “The goal is to become so immersed in the English language that even thinking in English becomes second nature,” he says. “We don’t want them to have to translate in their heads,” he explains, “since it really slows down everything.” he says this is mainly because not every word translates over to English smoothly. For this reason, Robert McDougal recommends ESL classrooms use the full submersion method instead.

The full submersion method is one in which English is the only language allowed in the classroom. This is something that’s been long debated, Robert McDougal of Orange County says, but it’s obvious that using only English in his lessons is a big part of what has made his classes so effective. He reports he can only recall 2 times over the past 6 years in which he’s had to revert to a student’s native language. “It does help the student learn the language more fully,” he adds, “since the students know they can’t use their native tongue.” Robert McDougal points out that although this method may take a little longer for some, most students come away at the end of it with a much stronger grasp of English.

Another tactic Robert McDougal of Orange County advises when teaching is to use this method with a lot of action. “When you associate activities with the word that corresponds with it, it’s reinforcing what they’re learning,” he says. “For example, if I’m talking about the concept of open and close, I’ll use a door or a drawer.”

Robert McDougal of Orange County also likes to use emotion to get the point across. “Sometimes, I exaggerate my emotions for the class which gets a lot of laughs.” He explains, “it’s a lot more enjoyable when it’s entertaining, and it’s a lot more memorable for the student.” He also uses props in his class to get his point across, such as pictures, drawings, models, flashcards, and anything else he can find. Robert McDougal says this is just a small part of what goes into a great ESL class. “It’s a great feeling when you know you have helped someone finally breakthrough to understanding the language,” he says.

Robert Bouton McDougal of Orange County is a seasoned educator and language learning expert in Costa Mesa, CA. With a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English Language Learning, TESOL certification, and a robust teaching history across the U.S. and Central America, Robert McDougal has years of experience helping non-native English speakers learn to speak English. Robert McDougal of Orange County approaches every classroom and tutoring challenge with optimism and perseverance. If you are seeking a private English tutor for yourself or a loved one, Robert Bouton McDougal is a trained professional with the combined years of education and experience to put you on the fast track to fluency.