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The Bar Room => The Bar (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: Lone Traveller on May 20, 2007, 03:36:39 PM

Title: Private Tutoring
Post by: Lone Traveller on May 20, 2007, 03:36:39 PM
I know this has come up before, on which forum I'm not exactly sure. I'm looking for some advise....

I have the opportunity to take on a private student. A 35yr old lady with no English base what-so-ever.

I've never taught privately before. While it's something I want to do, I'm not really sure what to expect. I assume it will take a lot more preparation on my part, as 1 students full attention for an hour is much more difficult than 60 students for 45mins.

I'm also concerned about the fact that she has absolutely no English base at all, and my Chinese is minimal. The first few weeks/months will be fine because I know all the basic stuff (greetings etc), if there are any problems with understanding I can simply translate for her. But beyond that..... I guess it will depend on just how good my teaching skills are ???

Any advise or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: cheekygal on May 20, 2007, 03:45:59 PM
You may start with this. Teach her how to read.
Personal pronouns etc Get a map, explain what continent is, country. Easy things that you can use your body language for and show pictures.

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Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 20, 2007, 09:27:36 PM
LT, you've really taken on some big challenges here!

Private tutoring is hard work...both for you and for the student. It's MUCH harder to sustain for an hour or more with one person than it is with a roomful. That one student in turn is on deck the entire time, rather than sharing the attention around. It can be rewarding, but takes more preparation (activities go FAST with only one person!). I recommend that a private lesson never be longer than one hour.

I also really like to see a beginner student working with a Chinese teacher...Chinese teachers can communicate more effectively and explain things about english that we can't explain very easily. Communications will be a BIG obstacle here...there are concepts that can't be explained through pointing and interpretive dance.
I always recommend that beginners start off with a Chinese teacher for a while...then come to me once they can talk a little. Alternatively, you might try to find a Chinese teacher who could share this class with you. It really does make the learning a lot more effective.
However, it cn be done if you're really, really patient. And it can be a lot of fun.  bfbfbfbfbf
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: dragonsaver on May 20, 2007, 09:37:32 PM
I find tutoring less work than teaching classes, however after reading Raoul's post I must say that my students can read and speak so I find the class easy and fun.  My ayi is also learning but it is only a few minutes each week and not an official lesson.

You have the basic info now.  It is going over words and pictures.  Pronunciation, practise and practise.  I agree with Raoul that having someone Chinese to help will make things go much faster for a new learner.  Even though my ayi has a lot of English now, if I have something important to tell her I get someone to translate.

I bought some children's books at the local supermarket.  I am planning on taking them home for my grandson, but I am using them myself.  One page, one picture.  Words in Chinese, pinyin and English.  They are super.  One is fruits and vegetables, one is animals and one is things like a cup and a wheelbarrow and a stapler etc.  There were 4 or 5 more books like that.  There is also a large picture dictionary which we use at the Uni.  Pictures of everything - English and Chinese but no pinyin. The pinyin will help you as well as her.  Cheap (5RMB) and easy to use.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: babala on May 20, 2007, 09:43:21 PM
At my school once a week I do an ice-breaker/threshold EC. These are the lowest levels that we teach. They have no or few little english skills. I use various methods. Sometimes I make a PPT. I choose a topic and show them pictures of the basic vocab we will cover and then practise using it in sentences. Sometimes I use worksheets I found on the web. There is a book called the Longman English-Chinese Photo Dictionary. It's written by Marilyn Rosenthal and Daniel Freeman. It has english, pinyin and chinese for everything. It's divided into topics and has pictures of everything. Try and get this book, it's awesome.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 21, 2007, 12:31:38 AM
ECs are one thing; the "Icebreaker/Threshhold" classes were one of the several reasons I didn't go back to Web in Suzhou.

They were invariably at 10am on a weekend morning, when I resented even being conscious, much less at work. They were inevitably one non-English speaking guy- in essence a private lesson with a rank beginner...we referred to these (and other mismatched classes there) as "The Silence of the Lambs" classes. We quickly learned that a Web lesson designed to occupy 10 students for 60 minutes would occupy 1 student for 6 minutes, leaving you to improvise for 54 minutes with a mute who ting bu dong.

The EFL program in Hell offers teachers a choice between these and middle-school kids' classes.  qqqqqqqqqq

Personally, IMHO, using a foreign teacher to teach early beginners is purely a conceit on the part of the student. Yeah, we can work through it, but they really are MUCH better served with a good teacher who speaks their own language...and generally works at a 30-90% discount off what it costs to thaw out a foreigner. If they wave their Red Flags (100-yuan notes) in my face long enough I'll eventually take them, but I'll try very hard to talk some sense into them first.
Again, this is just my personal take on it...
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: Vegemite on May 21, 2007, 04:54:58 AM
I actually enjoy working with complete beginners, however I have never done one on one work with a beginner, I've taught groups.
For complete beginners, if the teacher doesn't speak the language, it's a total immersion. Back in my day (when I was training to be a teacher) the then theory was that the teacher should not speak the same language as the student. It meant the students had no choice but to learn.
And one common approach for beginners was the 'Silent Way' - it's had it's fair bit of criticism over the years but it basically calls for less teacher talk and more student practise and production. It focuses on structure/grammar thus giving the students a working base to add vocabulary to. Here's a link that covers the basic theory:
I never completely followed the Silent Way but when I'm working with complete beginners I do use cuisenaire rods, lots of body language and lots of images. As others have said, both picture dictionaries and children's flashcards and picture books are invaluable.
Have fun LT.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: Raoul F. Duke on May 21, 2007, 07:59:17 AM
I like advanced beginners...people who are just beginning to make a tiny bit of conversation. They are the most eager and fun adult students!  bfbfbfbfbf
I just don't really feel I'm terribly qualified to teach absolute beginners.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: contemporarydog on May 21, 2007, 03:18:31 PM
Tutoring can either be agony or bliss, depending on the level of the student.

On sats/suns I do 3 hours extra tutoring, with two different students.  Both korean, 1 hr 30 mins each.  The first always seems like an eon.  He has a textbook that I review with him.  He can read from the book, he can answer the questions in the book, his level is quite good.  But as soon as I try to take it into his own life and use it about himself, he goes blank, gives me one word answers at best.  It is a nightmare.  I really need to figure out a way to get him talking.

The second student, whose house I go to immediately after (They are both a few minutes walk from my house) is the complete opposite.  His vocabulary isn't perfect, but I don't know what his parents have been spiking his cornflakes (or whatever it is Koreans eat for breakfast) with as he just talks and talks and talks.  It's so easy to teach him.

Generally I find tutoring classes go by quicker than normal classes, personally.
Title: Re: Private Tutoring
Post by: Lone Traveller on May 21, 2007, 06:22:53 PM
Thanks everyone, I knew I could count on you. You've given me a lot to think about. Seems I have a few choices to make before I decided wheather or not to take on the work. I'll keep you posted.