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My class can UNDERSTAND, but NOT respond, help needed! 
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Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:26 pm
Posts: 8
Post My class can UNDERSTAND, but NOT respond, help needed!
Hey guys, first post in the forums, and I hope I can help out around here and also get some help myself :-)

Let me start of with what I do, I work in an international kindergarten in Japan, been there for about 6 months and haven't taught kids before now.

The kinder kids are great and we have a lot of fun, but it's the after school and saturday kids who are a real pain.
I have to spend the whole day with these kids (saturday) and give a lesson after school some days to the after schoolers.

I am finding it difficult teaching them how to respond in English rather than in Japanese. I can quite often understand their japanese or get the gist of it but this is proving quite hard to get them beyond basic sentences and one word answers and into being able to reply to questions and ask questions.

Does anyone please have any ideas??? :?

Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:34 pm
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Saul - first off, welcome to the forums! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your experiences and ideas.

As to the non-responders,...

Maybe we can get a better picture as this progresses, but I'm going to say patience, as my first bit of advice :D ... :(

If I'm understanding right, these Saturday kids come once a week for a solid block of time and then go away for days without English input. They have little need for English in their daily lives and some might not really understand why they go to English playtime every Saturday.

I'd say keep activities and response simple at first and building. Small successes for students are very encouraging and they want to impress the teacher. Praise individuals in front of the group and you'll start to see other kids trying to show off by copying, ie speaking English. Eventually you reach a snowball level where all of that time you spend with them will start to develop into more language.

It also sounds like your regular kids and after school kids don't mix. If that's the case, that's too bad. The regular kids probably learn a lot from each other and I've found that having my own kids in kindergarten classes is a real plus. The kids that understand what to do respond. Then the other students learn from them what it is they are supposed to be doing.

Normally my classes with older students progress slowly over time and after about a year and a half I can't really put a new student in with a running group. However, with kids 5 and under, it's better for them to go in with a long standing group and learn from the other kids. So, if you can mix some of these students with students that have been there a while, it might help.

Anyway, can you tell us what sort of activities and content you are using and maybe we can offer some advice on that.

Additionally here's a post that sort of sums up my thoughts on what makes for good practice with young learners or how to reach them:

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:29 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:26 pm
Posts: 8
Thanks Mark for your advice. :D The school has it's own curriculum, or more like schedule as I would put it. There's a calender and what needs to be taught to the kids each week. BUT this can be difficult when the classes get mixed, ie kids who are there 5 days a week and others who come just 1 day or new enrollees who have no english and jump right in when I'm teaching countries

Yeh the saturday kids are almost like I'm a babysitter for the day. My boss tells them always to speak english, but they don't. Some of them can speak English but in a group of kids who don't speak english, they won't.

We have afterschool lessons too, and I really feel that if I was a parent then it'd be a waste of time and money as these kids don't improve, and how could they? 50 minute lesson a week, so I spose patience is the best way to go about it.

The kinder kids lesson is like this;

10 minutes hello time and questions and then writing their names
10 minutes phonics, reading phonic books together at the moment

30 minutes game with flashcard topics

appreciate the help mark and others

Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:32 am

Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2006 5:15 pm
Posts: 19
Location: Germany
Dear Saul,

An excellent and effective method of getting the children to respond in English is using the gestures method. I mentioned it on this forum a couple of years back. I was really amazed at how I achieved results with this method within a few weeks although I had been trying to get the children to speak for years.

I bought the book "Signing Exact English" recommended by one of the other members and have used a lot although it's a bit like learning a new language. I taught them basic sentences like " Can I have a paper,please"
" I like ..." " I want..." " Can you hang my jacket, please" and their favourite was " Can I have a sticker please, I spoke English today".
I used a gesture for each of the words in each sentence.

Here's the thread ... t=ranabjam

Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:32 pm

Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:41 pm
Posts: 1
thanks for the info. I 've been having the same problem with my students. I'm sure these tactics can help me get a response from them

Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:46 pm

Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:57 pm
Posts: 36
Praise, Praise, Praise. Let the Ss know when they have done a good job.

With beginners i use review cards with pictures to represent the questions, Ss use them as prompts and can ask their friends ( works a bit like the gestures i suppose). The more comfortable the Ss feel the more likely they are to talk.

Outside of class time spend some time with them and talk about whatever, it is amazing how much this helps.

Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:38 pm
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