How to Learn English as a Secondary Language


Howto Learn English as a Secondary Language

Forthe English Language Institute

Tableof Contents

Introduction 2

English language 2

Nouns 2

Classification of nouns 3

Pronouns 4

Types of pronouns 4

Adjectives 6

Verbs 8

Classifications 8

Adverbs 9

Types of Adverbs 9

Articles 9

Conjunctions 10

Types of Conjunctions 10

Interjections 12

Prepositions 12

Essential elements of English Language Development 12

Comprehension and vocabulary 14

Direct instruction 14

Semantic feature analysis 16

Graphic organizers 17

i. Word webs 18

ii. Story Maps 19

iii. Story matrix 21

Metacognitive strategies 22

Self-Questioning 22

Paraphrasing 22

Posse 22

Glossary 23

Listof Table

Table 1: Pluralizing a noun 4

Table 2: Essential elements of English Language Development 13

Listof Figure

Figure1: Example of a direct instruction 16

Figure2: Structure of word web 19

Figure3: Example of word web 20

Figure4: Example of story map 21

Figure5: An example of story matrix 22


Learninga secondary language especially a foreign one is quite hard. Somelearners require a lot of time to grasp all the aspects involved in asecond language. In that regard, this guide was made with theintention of helping English Language Learners (E.L.L). It is meantto assist learners in acquiring the English language knowledge withease.


Understandingthe nine parts of speech is a fundamental requirement for Englishlearners. They include nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives,conjunctions, articles, interjections, and prepositions. A studentcan then utilize various mechanisms to grasp the words i.e. storymaps, word webs, and graphic organizers. A student who candifferentiate the above aspects while writing or conversing can beregarded as proficient.


Anoun is a word that is used to name something e.g. a person, ananimal, idea, or a place. Some examples of nouns include

  • Collins, Leah, Barak, Beckham

  • Warthog, cow, cat, dog

  • China, Mexico, Germany, Britain

  • Music, air, pencil

Nounmarkers sometimes precede nouns also called quantifiers ordeterminers e.g. a, an, the, some, any, every, those, that, several,a lot, few, numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) possessive pronouns (his, her,him, etc.)

Classificationof nouns

  1. Singular or plural

Singularnouns name only one place or person e.g. one orange, a toothbrush,the novel

Pluralnouns name two or more places, people, ideas, and things. Most of thesingular nouns are pluralized by adding –s. Examples

Table1: Pluralizing a noun








  1. Nouns that end with s, x, ch, or sh such as mattress, box, match, and Ash are pluralized by adding –es (mattresses, boxes, matches, and ashes respectively)

  2. Irregular nouns that do not follow any rules e.g. child – children.

  1. Abstract or Concrete nouns

  • Abstract nouns cannot be physically held e.g. justice, hope, air, faith

  • Concrete nouns can be touched e.g. hand, book, house,

  1. Proper or Common Nouns

Aproper noun refers to specific places, ideas, things, and people.They are always capitalized. Examples include

  1. Languages, nationalities, and races – American, Chinese, Black, African

  2. People’s names and titles – Mrs. Walter, King George

  3. Specific organizations – United Nations (UN)

  4. Names of religions, sacred books, and religious followers – God, Christians, Bible

  5. Days of the week, months, and holidays

Commonnouns are all other nouns and are normally not capitalized except atthe beginning of a sentence. Some examples include dog, paper, andpen among others

  1. Collective nouns

Theyare considered grammatically singular but include more than oneplace, idea, meaning, person, or thing. Examples include committee,crowd, society, herd, team, couple, etc.

  1. Non-count nouns

Nounsthat cannot be counted are referred to as non-count. For instance,onehas to obey the rules.


Pronounsare words that replace nouns to avoid tautology. For example:

  • John had to discipline John’s child. It can be replaced by John had to discipline his child.

Types ofpronouns

  1. Personal pronouns

Theyrefer to specific people or things. They can act as objects,possessives, or subjects.

Usingpersonal pronouns as subjects

  • He is quite knowledgeable.

  • They are all bright students

  • Who told him?

Usingpersonal pronouns as objects in sentences

  • The tutor gave them assignments.

  • The pastor had to call him.

Possessivepronouns are meant to show ownership.

  • They had to leave my room

  • That pen is mine.

  • The ball is theirs.

  1. Reflective Pronouns

Theyname the recipient of an action e.g. myself, itself, themselves, andourselves.

  • I luv myself

  1. Intensive Pronouns

Theyemphasize on a noun or another pronoun

  • I met with President Obama himself

  1. Reciprocal Pronouns

Theyexpress shared feelings or actions e.g. one another, each other

  • They like each other a lot.

  1. Demonstrative Pronouns

Theypoint towards nouns and sometimes referred to as noun markers

  • That guy is quite hilarious

  • Those guys were involved in an accident

  1. Indefinite Pronouns

Theyrepresent non-specific things e.g. anyone, both, everyone, somebody,many, nobody, something, few, neither, both, and each among others.

  • No one comes close.

  • Though many people have tried to pin him down, nobody has managed

  1. Relative pronouns

Theyintroduce dependent clauses. They refer to a thing or person that hasalready been stated in the sentence e.g. whose, that, which, whom,and who

  • The teacher who taught us English is quite proficient

  1. Interrogative Pronouns

Theyintroduce questions e.g. whose, what, who, and which

  • What are you doing?

  • Whose turn is it?


Adjectivesare used to describe the nouns. They give more details about thenouns.

Examplesin sentences

  • John is a tall, dark, and handsome guy.

  • Joy is a short, brown, and pretty lady.

Adjectivescan be used to give answers i.e. which one? Or what kind?

  • Hey. How is your bicycle?

  • It is a great bicycle. It is also in a good condition.

Adjectivescome before the nouns and not after.

Wrong:Two Algerians happylived within our region.

Right:Two happyAlgerians lived within our region.

Adjectivescan also be used together with linking verbs to describe a subject.They come before the linking verb.

Wrong:My aunt short and slender (No linking verb)

Right:My aunt isshort and slender

Adjectivesas superlatives

Additionof –est to the end of an adjective which ends with one or twosyllables, makes it a superlative e.g. the smartest, strongest,warmest

Adjectiveswith three or more syllables use words like, the most e.g. Moses isthemost intelligent studentin that class.


Neveruse both an –est ending and the word most or –er ending and theword more in the same sentence. For example:

Johnis the mostdulleststudent in my class. Instead, it should be: John is the dulleststudent in my class.


Theverbs express an action or state.


  1. Action verbs demonstrate the action e.g. they play he studies

  2. Linking verbs connect the subject to an adjective.

  • Joyce is pretty.

  1. Transitive and intransitive verbs

Transitiveverbsneed a direct subject to b meaningful.

  • Ruth takes a lot of water for her headaches.

Intransitiveverbsdo not require any direct object to make sense.

  • William eats.


Dependingon the context, a verb can be either intransitive or transitive.

  • The cars race – intransitive

  • My mom races horses – transitive

Caution:The base form of a verb is called infinitive. It is supposed to be toplus a verb. For instance, to win, to play, etc. A verb cannot beconsidered to be one if it is preceded by to.


Adverbsare words that modify adjectives, action verbs, or another adverb.

  • The student carefully answered the questions.

  • It was effectively done.

  • James ran into the house very quickly.

Types ofAdverbs

Frequencyadverbsshow how often something is done e.g. always, usually, never, andrarely.

Relativeadverbsintroduce dependent adverbial clauses and questions e.g. when? AndWhere?

  • When I grow up, my hair will grow.


Articlesinclude the, a, and an.

Whatarticles do in a sentence?

  1. They appear between a noun and modifier


  • A sunset

  • A spectacular sunset

  • An exceptionally spectacular sunset

  1. They indicate that a noun is going to follow.

  • A buffalo was chasing the tourists.

Commonrules when using articles:

  1. “A” or “an” should not be used together with non-count nouns. Only used when a count noun is added in front of the non-count one.

  • James asked her grandfather for an advice

  • James asked her grandfather for a piece of advice

  1. Use a/an with singular count nouns whose identity is unknown.

  • They are looking for a church.

  • Jane will find an envelope.

  1. Do not use articles with possessive nouns and some pronouns e.g. Jane’s, ours, either, several, and many among others.

  • The Jane’s paper

  • A that novel is mine.

  1. It should not be used with plural or non-plural nouns e.g. all

  • Some regions like the rice


Conjunctionslink words and phrases.

Types ofConjunctions

  1. Coordinating Conjunctions

TheEnglish language has seven coordinating conjunctions. Learners canuse the mnemonic device “fanboys” to remember them.








  1. Correlative Conjunctions

Thecorrelative conjunctions work in pairs to link words




Notonly……but also


  1. Subordinating Conjunctions

Thesubordinating conjunctions link independent clauses to subordinateones i.e. a stand-alone section to one that cannot stand alone e.g.although, before, since, because, whether, whenever, and while


Interjectionsare used to show emotional conditions. They are mostly found inspoken English, interviews, and narrative writing. Examples include:Oh! Hey! Wow! Oops!

Theyare mostly punctuated with commas or exclamation marks. Mildinterjections are trailed by commas, whereas stronger ones arepunctuated with exclamation marks.

  • Hey! Wait for me.

  • Ouch! That hurts

  • Oh, we forgot about that


Prepositionsare words that link nouns or pronouns to another word within thesentence. Examples include about, instead of, without, with, below,among, toward, into, beneath, beside, like, under, up, by, during,and across among others.

Essentialelements of English Language Development

Thereare four elements of developing the English language i.e. vocabulary,forms, functions, fluency.

Table2: Essential elements of English Language Development

Essential elements of English Language Development





Terms: some of the crucial words and phrases English learners require for academic and social purposes

Tasks: some of the communicative functions English learners must be able to navigate

Tools: some of the grammatical tools required to communicate

Trying it out: things English learners must do to be proficient

General and specific nouns

Participate in discussions

Syntax – words order

Identify and categorize word classes and patterns

Verbs of doing and being

Express social courtesies

Conjunctions and subordination

Understand and respond to conversations without fear

Idioms and collocations

Express the needs, likes, and feelings

Adjectives and adverbs

Utilize spoken English flexibly to converse with others

Transferable academic terms

Relate observable events


Practice pronunciation and articulation

Subject-specific vocabulary

Classify, compare and contrast


Produce speech with adequate speed, intonation, and sound

Ask and answer questions

Sentence variation and complexity

Adapt reading strategies for various reasons

Describe people and things

Conventions for informal and formal communication

Comprehensionand vocabulary

Comprehensionand vocabulary go hand in hand. Comprehension typically meansunderstanding whereas vocabulary is the general knowledge of words.An English learner must have an adequate source of vocabulary to beproficient. When a student comprehends a written article, he/she canconstruct meaning from the words. Learners also develop vocabulary asthey get to know the meaning of new words. Some of the strategies ofteaching English learners include

  • Direct instruction

  • Graphic organizers

  • Metacognitive strategies

  • Semantic feature analysis


Directinstruction needs the tutor to straightly teach the pronunciation aswell as descriptions of new vocabulary words. The teacher comes upwith new words as well as their definitions and directly imparts themon the learners.

Figure1: Example of a direct instruction

Alearner will pronounce the new words with the help of the tutor.He/she has to write them down and continue practicing. The meaning ofeach word will be provided. Once the students know the meanings andcan pronounce much better, they will write a passage incorporatingthe new words. After completion, the passage will be returned to thetutor for assessment.

Anothertechnique that can be utilized in direct instruction entails

  • Uttering new words and their meanings and ask students to repeat them

  • Providing examples of the words in sentences to the students

  • Analyzing the new words together

  • Reviewing the previously acquired words.

Modelingand thinking aloud are also suitable to disseminate the Englishknowledge. The learners will watch their tutor as he/she illustratescertain activities. Modeling will involve coming up with wordswritten in cards and then pairing them with their respectivemeanings. The students will follow suit, linking the words to theirrespective meanings. Students are also allowed to think aloud i.e.reason out loudly. In case they have a problem, corrections will bemade instantly. Words that have more than two meanings will also beprovided for the students to relate to both.

Inthis mode of tutoring, learners are taken through baby steps untilthey grasp the words. Though it may be boring due to the repetitionof words, it is quite useful.

Semanticfeature analysis

Thestudents’ previous knowledge is combined with new information.Relations between words in a particular topic will considerablybenefit the students. The technique involves coming up with a subjectand listing some words that are related to the topic on the left sideof the grid. Then a list of characteristics are placed in a row alongthe top of the grid. Students will suggest new words and othercharacteristics to widen the grid.

Types of Rocks















(-)– Word does not possess the characteristics listed

(+)– Word possesses the characteristics listed

(?)– Unsure of the relation

Thestudents along with the tutor will fill the matrix as per theinstructions.


Graphicorganizers are pictorial presentations that assist learners inorganizing their understanding of words.. Examples of graphicorganizers word webs and story maps.

  1. Word webs

Figure2: Structure of word web

Wordwebs are pictorial representations that help students in defining aswell as recalling crucial words. Designing word webs could takevarious forms as shown in the figure above. It may take the form ofsynonyms and antonyms, word parts and meanings, and functions amongothers. The tutor comes up with words and draws a preferred web. Itmakes it easier for students to understand the words as well as theirrespective meanings. The figure below is a good example of word web.Work is done using a variety of tools. By relating the tools to theirrespective functions, students can to define and understand them. Aword web is one of the most efficient mechanisms of disseminating theEnglish language to non-proficient students especially foreigners.

Figure3: Example of word web

  1. Story Maps

Storymaps are simplified pictorial representations used to help studentsto organize and recall vital story components. In other words, it isa technique that utilizes a graphic organizer to assist learners tounderstand the components of a book or story. By pinpointing storycharacters, setting, plot, problem, and solution, the students readprudently to understand the details. There are several kinds of storymap graphic organizers. The most rudimentary emphasis on thebeginning, middle, and completion of the tale. More progressiveorganizers concentrate on the plot or character behaviors.

Howto come up with a story map

  1. Discuss the major elements of a story such as the characters, plot, theme or setting

  2. Provide a blank story map organizer to each student as well as a model on how to complete it.

  3. As the learners read, they should complete the story map. They should also fill any missing portions.

Figure4: Example of story map

  1. Story matrix

Asthe students read through the book, they can improve theircomprehension by utilizing a story matrix to link the story maps ofeach chapter. By completing a grid, the students outline the corecomponents of the book. Completion of the matrix also helps thestudents to understand the words in their respective context.

Figure5: An example of story matrix


Ametacognitive strategy helps the learners to monitor their learning.The students ask themselves questions as they read a book or passage.Some of the activities involved include:


Thestudents ask themselves, what am I studying in this passage? What isthe core agenda? How can I answer my questions? Among others.


Thestudent goes through a passage, understands it, writes down the mainideas, and then constructs a paper using his/her words. At this stageof coursework, a leaner is almost achieving proficiency.

Posse(Predict, Organize, Search, Summarize, and Evaluate)

Atthis juncture, the student can achieve proficiency if he/shecontinues to practice. The student can now predict i.e. remember thewords without hesitation. He/she is then able to organize thoughtsand create a semantic map. The student is also capable of summarizingkey ideas and evaluating his/her work. It is probably the last stepin achieving proficiency.


Directinstruction– The tutor directly teaches pronunciation and other new words

ELL– English Language Learners.

Graphicorganizers– Pictorial representation of words

Metacognitivestrategies– Learners use them to monitor their progress

Posse– Predict, Organize, Search, Summarize, and Evaluate

Semanticfeature analysis– involves coming up with a topic and listing features in a matrixform


Azar, B. Fundamentals of English grammar 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents. , 1992. Document.

Gersten, R., Baker, S., Pugach, M., Scanlon, D., &amp Chard, D. &quotContemporary research on special educating teaching.&quot Handbook of research on teaching (4th ed.) (2001): 695-722. Document.

Greenwood, S. C. &quotMaking words matter: Vocabulary study in the content areas. The Clearing House.&quot (2002): 258-264. Document.

Mathes, P. G., Fuchs, D., &amp Fuchs, L. S. &quotCooperative story mapping. Remedial and Special Education.&quot (2007): 20-27. Document.

Howto Learn English as a Secondary Language

Universityof Affiliation

Howto Learn English as a Secondary Language


Englishis an excellent language to learn, whether for personal reasons,business, or travel. Like any other language, learning English needsa lot of skills, hardworking, willingness, and commitment. Thestudent should know that learningEnglish as a Secondary Language is slightly different from othersubjects. As an English teacher for more than fifteen years, I havean experience that I can impart to a student on how to learn Englishas a secondary language at the minimum cost and in a short time.

Englishis one of the international languages that are spoken worldwide. Inthe current world, almost every person should learn to read, write,and speak English as it is viewed as an important vessel used as aninternational bridge. It has also been made mandatory in some regionsof the world for their students to learn this language. For theindividuals who are still not convinced, below are some ways oflearning English as a Secondary Language and the reasons forconsidering it a secondary language.


Astudent can learn English through several ways. My proposed solution,in this case, is learning through the internet, which opened thedoorway for the students who want to learn English. Through onlinearticles and tutorials, the students have an opportunity to acquirenew words, hear the pronunciation of such words through audio means,watch the video clips that illustrate the meaning of idioms, andaccess the techniques used to discuss the pragmatic meaning ofEnglish as a secondary language. Most English as a secondary languagewebsites provide surfeit opportunities for the students to practicethe new skills they found. Whether watching videos, playing games, orusing the audio means the perform pronunciation and inflection, thestudents learning English as a secondary language will realize thatthe internet can be one of the ways of accessing the skills.


Thereare numerous benefits accrued from learning English as a secondarylanguage through online. One of them is that most of the internetpages are written in English. Since this language is acceptedworldwide, students can find English magazines, books, and newspapersin almost every corner of the earth. A student can use such materialsto acquire some requisite skills for learning English. In this case,those people who have not learned how to use English should find thereason for spending sleepless nights to learn it so that they canbenefit using the internet. The other benefit of learning English asa Secondary Language is that it enables the student to join theprofessions related to English speaking and writing. A student withthe ability to command English can participate in a broad field ofeducational opportunities and secure high paying jobs.


Theaudience in this paper will be those people who do know how to readand write in English but are willing to start learning. The audiencewill also be those people who are full time employed and cannot beable to attend weekly classes. For a person without basic knowledgeof English to start their journey of exploring the language, theyought to know their options regarding schedule and institution thatcan work best with their learning techniques. For instance, thestudent may sign up for the late evening classes, or the universitycourse, or learn the language using the tutorials and audio tapes.However, the popular choice most students have made is participatingin the online programs. According to the research that was carriedout by the US E-learning Department in 2014, most students who preferlearning English as a secondary language through the internet areeither employed and work the whole day or have family commitments andfind it hard to attend the weekly lessons (McNeil,2004).Online learning is much more interactive as compared to using theaudio tapes and books because it can provide many sources and assistthe student who struggles with the course materials given by thetutors or lecturers.



Thecollection of data will be an extensive research on how grammar andsetting the realistic goals affect learning of English. The paperwill scrutinize how most students respond to how these two factorsaffect their learning. For example, grammar is defined as the waywords are selected to form various sentences in a language. A studentlearning such a language is supposed to be keen with their grammar,as it will assist them to ensure an accurate and appropriate usage ofwords. There are many aspects articulated to grammar and the forms ofthe phrase used. More data will be collected on how various peopleset their goals in learning English. The students learning any newlanguage should not expect to understand the whole language in thematter of one day. It takes some time to master and feel comfortablespeaking English as a second language, and it leans upon the levelthe learner wants to achieve. In some cases, learning can be made alifetime process. Students should be patience and procedural inlearning English. Before the trainer starts mastering grammar andvocabulary, they should have a realistic plan and establish arational pace they would move before testing their progress. Astudent should balance their focus on both grammar and vocabulary sothat neither is sacrificed. In this case, data about how variousstudents set their goals regarding learning English will becollected.


August10, 2016:Data collection and research completed. Submission of the rough draftwill be done in this day.

August20, 2016:Data analysis using the proposed software (SPSS).

September3, 2016:Deadline for the project. Submission of the findings andinterpretation of the symbols and graphs used to present data.



Ihave worked as a tutor in various colleges and universities for tenyears. Before becoming a full-time lecturer at the university, I usedto be the prolific writer in the national newspapers where I wroteseveral articles about the benefits of learning English as asecondary language. In the year 2011, my third novel was approved bythe education institute to be the school edition. Lastly, in 2007while I was a news reporter in the national broadcast channel, mypoetry book was ranked among the top ten books in national awards.


Asa university lecturer, I have taken various courses that increased myskills and knowledge of English. My first degree was English andLiterature (1997-2000). I pursued Aspects of Language as my seconddegree (2000-2003). Lastly, I undertook Linguistics as my thirddegree (2009-2012).


McNeil,A. (2004).&nbspHowto learn a foreign language: A question and answer resource guide.Washington, MI: Language Experts.