When I try to compare my own personal experience as a learner in school, with how I personally taught English (which I know is very similar tohow many other ELS teachers do) there are several things that I did very differently to the traditional academic approach:
* I always taught my classes entirely in English, even when I spoke thelocal language fluently, without exception (even with absolute beginners). This helped my students tremendously as they were forced to communicate in English with an actual human being, rather thansee it as a list of rules. Many traditional academic courses teach through the mother tongue of the learner, which makes the target language more artificial and theoretical and less like a means ofcommunication. To teach a language, you absolutely have to use the language way more than just occasionally.
* I never discussed grammar in tabular form and would very rarely use technical terminology(words like past participle, conjugation, etc.) Grammar was always explained by use of examples in such a way that it didn’t feel like grammar. My own German classes in school would directly discusscases, adjective agreement and many other things I simply didn’t care about. Unless you are a grammarian learning a language this way is boring. Grammar can and likely must be taught, but in acommunicative context.
* Many ESL teachers even abandon the whole classroom idea and make it a game, especially with children. When you take learning away from blackboards and copybooks, into dances,puzzles, board games, activities, competitions, interesting assignments rather than homework etc. the student is way more likely to participate simply because it’s more fun. These work just as well withadults (but perhaps using less stuffed animal toys). One of my most favourite jobs as an English teacher never involved entering a single classroom. One day I dressed up as a pirate (see photo) and...