Private tutoring, leads to references

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Private tutoring is an entirely different sort of language teaching altogether. You actually have to plan something to discuss with the student. Quite recently, I’ve found that some of them will demand to have homework. I tend to associate the word, homework with younger students and the rote method of learning. I do agree that repetition has it’s place, but the view that the student wants something to take away from the lesson is, I think is teacher lead, but laudable.

Speaking of one of my soon to be former students, she is about sixty years old. Being from a former Soviet bloc countries, she can be a little on the outgoing side. I would define a difficult student to teach is one that needs a lot of input, as in talking. However, encouraging your student to talk more than you do is a matter of luck, and also I think, experience. Far from being difficult to extract language from her, she has turned out to be very fluent, albeit in German and a multiple of other continental languages such as Russian, Italian amongst others. However, in dialogues with her, I have felt that she is most able to talk about anything. But, in listening to her, it was sort of like an out of focus picture. The gross detail is there while the finer detail is blurry or missing. Having lived in a foreign culture for so long, certainly refines your predictive language ability.

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Lessonplans, long forgotten

Old lessonplans.jpgFor some reason or another I have rarely gone over old lesson plans. It does make sense though, since, I’ve taught the same years twice in some schools.

The lesson folder I had uncovered dated back to the 2006-7 time frame. It contained printed material for a lesson, a very loose procedure and that was about it. I comparison, I do still ‘write  up’ the lesson plan up (in a notebook) and this is to clarify what I want to teach and what I need to prepare to teach it. I’d use circle in green pen the resources I’d written down that needed to be prepared. So much more organised than what it was before.

Looking through the book, the lessons were adequate, if you wanted to teach like a KET. But since that time I’d moved on. Even more recently, I’d been taught to focus on communicative teaching/ lessons. The ones where my TTT is minimized and where the STT is maximized. In doing this, I as a teach, maximize the amount of student talk time. That’s what they’re there for, right? Pedagogy aside, following the PPP schema is relatively easy. Once you have the materials in hand, it makes writing lesson plans easier. Looking through the clear-page folder at the lesson plans I’d written back then, I had come to realize that the lesson plans were incomplete. Even if I was teaching vocabulary, I was teaching it properly, as in meaning, form, grammar, and speaking. Thanks, Paul Nation.

But back then, it was an awful lot of talking on my part, and very little in the way of practicing productive skills. I knew that I had to get the students talking, even back then, but I was missing the know-how (theoretical and practical) to do it. How far I’ve come! That extra training does pay off; firstly it was CELTA, and then it was TESOL. Both tough but, useful courses to have done.

Only falling out of your chair is more difficult

P110712001I have to admit that the students have done well so far. The lesson plan was based on TPR, or, total physical respsonse. I had a box of realia for the students to act out a character. An over-sized toy hammer, a fly-swat, a hula-hoop, an empty beer bottle, an old cricket ball and a rubber chicken.

So far, the students have role-played stabbing a monster with a hammer cum crucifixes, lobbed grenades-cricket balls to cries of “fire in the hole!”, flipped burger patties with a fly-swat, stabbed other students with fictitiously broken bottles, and the jewel in the crown: a student giving CPR to a chicken. He was eliciting a paramedic. The only object they found difficult was the hula-hoop. I found myself climbing out of make-believe manholes and playing the lion tamer to invisible lions. Though innovative and witty, this lesson didn’t fit everyone. Using a different mode of input/ output didn’t suit all of the students though. Some of the more bookish students drew a blank, while the more physically inclined students did well. It takes all sorts.