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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:13 am
Posts: 8
Location: Italy
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I've been asked by a mother if I'll do some private conversation classes with her 8 year old daughter. The girl speaks some English as she went to an English nursery and still has English Lessons privately but mum wants her to have some practise outwith of her now 'secure' environment.

My question is, what do I do with this girl for 1 hour as mum dosen't want me to do any grammar - just talking!

Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:21 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
What about reading to her for a bit of the lesson? I'm not sure how good her English is but if it's good, you could get some short story series and read those. You could discuss the story as you go explaining some vocabulary here and there. Throughout the story stop and talk about what might happen, what the characters will do or say. Also, if she can handle longer stories, you can read it in segments and she has something to look forward to in the next lesson. Plus each lesson you can discuss what happened last time in the story before you read the next segment.

It seems like you aren't supposed to 'teach' but if you could teach the child to read for herself, it would be like 'teaching a man to fish.' With high level children (returnees or international school kids) I always work on reading skills and encourage them to read as much as they can. In the end, they'll be teaching themselves. (That works for mid-level students as well.)

Where are the lessons? If they are at her house you could play with her toys, play games, get her to explain how to play a game, ask about where she got the toys and when.

You could do some cooking with her, crafts, coloring, math, science, or internet webquests. as long as she's speaking and interacting with you, it should be helpful.

Think of it as baby sitting/a kindergarten lesson. You probably should have some loose language objective. For example the cooking could be used to practice imperative forms. But I don't think you really need that. If you can engage the child and get her to speak with you, then she'll make good progress. The trick is to get her to talk but not force her to talk.

Side note: You might want to ask the mom to stop 'back seat driving.' Tricky business, but you are the teacher. You know how to teach a student English. The mom has some idea of how she thinks her daughter ought to learn. Most of the time, that's not really helpful. You need to ask the mom to trust you and let you do your job. If you need to do some grammar instruction, or anything like that, I'd say do it and explain it to the mother as well if possible.

But, get your foot in the door. Accept the agreement and then try to make the changes that are necessary to help the child. It sounds like fun. Pressure free in a way. It should also be a great experience.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:00 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:13 am
Posts: 8
Location: Italy
They're some great ideas Mark, thanks a lot :D I have some books that may be suitable so it's certainly something that I'll try. The girl's going to be coming to my small school for the lessons so it will still be an educational environment in which they're set.

I'll plan ample stuff for the first lesson and then take it from there and yes, will definately speak fuller with mum about her hopes and expectations!


Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:11 am
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