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10 year old private student 
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Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:59 pm
Posts: 18
Location: Japan
Post 10 year old private student
I have a 10 year old (grade 4) private student who is above her level for her age, but since they are only just beginning English in school at her age, that isn't really saying too much. If I look at the guidelines for what children should learn in elementary school, she has pretty much covered it all, but hasn't really mastered it. We started off working through a text and workbook that she had used with her last teacher, but she quickly bored of it (as did I) in a solo situation.

I'm really having trouble keeping her focused for the whole lesson, and as soon as she gets bored she starts doodling all over whatever worksheet or diagram we're using at the time. She'll repeat pretty much anything I ask her to, but when we play games its really hard to get her to keep using the target language.

It makes things worse that she knows I understand her mother language, and she tends to get chatty and wants to talk about her day, her pets, etc.

If any of you have some ideas for activites that will keep her amused and motivate her to try and communicate more in English, I would really appreciate it!


Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:54 pm

Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:14 pm
Posts: 117
Location: Adelaide Australia
Hi there! I have been thinking about your situation with the 10 year old student for a while and wondering what I could advise! :smt017

I had a couple of one on ones with young kids when I was in Japan. They were all girls, all very bright and strong-willed. If they didn't like the
lesson for the day, they'd certainly let me know!! You need to find out what the girl is into and work around that. Try and get her to chat in English as much as possible about the music/food/animals/ sports/video games etc she likes.

Do you teach her at her home? Do you teach her in the daytime? You could take a walk around the house or even the neighbourhood, asking her "What's this? What's that?" in English and if she's up to it, encouraging her to describe things.

Using flash cards may be very useful, as could doing phonics. I'd only spend about 5-10 minutes per lesson on phonics but it is worth doing. There are a few card games you can play with only one student and yourself, eg fish (teach 'Do you have...?'), memory / concentration game, Karuta, etc.

I can't think of anything else right now, but I'll let you know if I come up with anything.

Good luck!!


Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:20 pm

Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:59 pm
Posts: 18
Location: Japan
Thanks for the tips! I'm glad to finally get a comment on my post.

My student comes to my 'school', which is a little bungalow just in front of my house, but she comes in the evening, so its pretty dark and cold now. There really isn't anywhere to walk around here other than some dark back roads and even darker rice fields, and the main house (and the grandmother that lives in it) is not 'student friendly'.

She has started to bring little things with her when she comes. Last week she was planning a little Christmas party for some friends, so we made a poster in English. The week before she brought some paper cups :smt102 and we decorated them with crayons... Her writing level is much lower than her speaking and listening, so we do spend about 15 minutes on phonics and writing. She is finally starting to read a bit, which I'm happy about, but it seems strange to have her writing kindergarten level words after we talk about sports, school subjects, or hobbies... I bring out the cards as a treat for when she's done her worksheets, but I'm worried about what her mother thinks when we're playing cards every time she comes to pick her up!

She just seems a bit bored most of the time, but her mother seems to think she really enjoys the classes, so maybe I'm worrying too much...


Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:31 pm

Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:14 pm
Posts: 117
Location: Adelaide Australia
When teaching a young child like you are, sometimes the main purpose is to please the mother! So if she thinks your student is enjoying the classes, you've succeeded there. Have you asked the mother what it is that she wants her daughter to achieve? This may help you with your problem. If she simply wants her to have a hobby or interest in English, or if she wants her to get ahead of other kids at school, you'll be able to plan your lessons around it.

You said that you were having rouble keeping her concentration levels up for the entire lesson. You prbably need to do a number of activities in each session, so that she doesn't get bored. This can be difficult (but the whole thing of one on one classes is a challenge! :wink: ) but you need to break the boredom. Do some TPR, get her up and active for a bit before returning to some worksheets or whatever.

How long are the sessions? 1 hour?? Try breaking the time into four 15 minute blocks instead of one long session.

Let me know how it all goes!!

Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:14 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
It sounds like you are doing great. Most parents are happy if the student is enjoying the lesson and likes studying/learning English.

I have a lot of mothers sit in the back of class and watch the lesson. They are very easily impressed. If the child can read something without the teacher reading it to them first, they are shocked. Ah... the magic of actually teaching reading! :mrgreen:

I focus mainly on speaking (card games and other games,) followed closely by reading. My students' writing ability is terrible, but I run an English conversation school. Parents are actually surprised and sometimes a bit worried if I give out too many worksheets and homework. That's not why they are sending the child to me. So, if you're playing card games and the student is speaking, I wouldn't worry about it.

My students generally do writing exercises that are way beneath their speaking ability, but I believe that's the way it should be (in my situation anyway.) It seems remedial to us, but for them, it's not. If it's challenging but doable then it's right on the mark.

I tell parents up front that their student isn't going to be fluent by coming to my school for one hour a week unless they are doing more at home or at school. I have some students who have made excellent progress and can have pretty good general conversations. However, I tell parents that I work to build confidence, make learning fun, and foster a love for speaking and learning English. If we can do that, they remember more, study on their own and might be fluent or near fluent by the time the leave high school.

It sounds like you care about the student and the lessons. I'm sure that shows more than you realize.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:33 pm
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Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:27 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Austria
In a way, you can count your blessings. Your student is learning "frontwards", as we did when we were young, first the spoken language, the words... and much later, the letters, writing. My students are adults who have learned languages "the reading way", and have become dependent upon reading written words. When I use Mark's handouts, they read the handouts, and if later I use a sheet with only the pictures (cruel trick, Dick Dastardly!) they get flustered and occasionally gallop back to the orginal handout. Your pupil won't have that problem. You're lucky! I envy you, and I agree with Mark, it sounds like you're doing lots of things right.

Happy New Year, folks!

Mon Jan 01, 2007 5:48 am

Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:23 pm
Posts: 1
Post private students
Hi, I'm new to the forum but I've been using the site to help me put together two lessons a week, one for a 12 year old and another 9year old - both Korean. I give them individual lessons.
I find it difficult to find support and resources for 1:1 teaching. I'm in a similar situation as the 12 year old girl I teach is miles ahead of her age group, she's easily coping with upper-intermediate and advanced English, and I find it hard to get suitable child focused material for her.
I definitely recommend keeping the lessons as varied as possible. TPR is a great refresher, I often get them to stand up and jump around the room. I also have a pronunciation game, which turned into 'Pronunciation Postman': they have a set of cards with words on, one of you reads them out, the other one has to go to the right place ('letterbox') in the room. It works pretty well (my student hid underneath the desk to shout the words out).
Another idea is to conduct a conversation completely through writing. You write the first line: e.g. How are you? and they have to write back. Refuse to talk! They have to write down everything in English. That gives you a good example of their writing and you can build lessons around the grammar points they've struggled with.
I don't speak their native language, and I find it hard enough to keep their attention. Try to get your student up and moving around. Use the book to help them practise, rather than making the book the centre of the lesson.
Hope this is of some help.

Tue Jan 02, 2007 5:41 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:23 pm
Posts: 18
I think something that is very important for 1:1 classes is to find out what the student is interested in. I once had a student who was very interested in science. So I tried to base some of my lessons on science. I wasn't teaching science for content but to get her interested and speaking about something she liked.

My advice is to find out what you student is really interested in and try to base your speaking activities around that subject. Here in Brazil my 10 year old girls love the movie "High School Musical" Sometimes I use the target vocabulary or grammar and ask about the movie. For example, "What does Troy do everyday" and they answer "He plays basketball." or "He goes to school."

Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:33 am

Joined: Tue May 22, 2007 1:22 pm
Posts: 17
Location: TURKEY
I have also private students and ne of them is very interested in learning English so when we finish the lesson we listen to English pop music (Brithney Spears, Shakira are her favourites) and we together try to sing their songs. We also enter some sites and make puzzles, etc. in English.

Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:44 am
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