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English Corners and one-to-ones

 
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JennyJK



Joined: 03 May 2010
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 3:20 am    Post subject: English Corners and one-to-ones Reply with quote

Hi everyone

I am currently teaching in China at a private language school. I need some help on two matters at the moments.

The first one is a one to one lesson. I see the student once a week for two hours. I am supposed to be preparing her for a placement exam for a school in Singapore - only thing is I have no idea what exactly I'm supposed to be covering with her. Sometimes my school tells me to do something like practice her self-introduction, which is fine - but for two hours?! I'm not sure what I should be covering or doing with her so any suggestions or advice anyone could give would be greatly appreciated.

The other matter I need help with is with my English corner. I have one once a week for an hour with advanced students. The problem I am encountering here is that the students are at different advanced levels (some are in a class without a Chinese teacher for the first time and others speak very decent English) and they are different ages. I have students from 10 years old to 17 years old in the class. I am finding it quite difficult to find activities to suit these different ages and ability levels. I am finding that either my older students are bored because they are being forced to speak slowly or my younger students are complaining that they can't follow what is going on because we are speaking too quickly about topics they can't follow. Help!
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El Chupacabra



Joined: 22 Jul 2009
Posts: 378
Location: Kwangchow

PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 6:11 am    Post subject: Re: English Corners and one-to-ones Reply with quote

JennyJK wrote:
Hi everyone

I am currently teaching in China at a private language school. I need some help on two matters at the moments.

The first one is a one to one lesson. I see the student once a week for two hours. I am supposed to be preparing her for a placement exam for a school in Singapore - only thing is I have no idea what exactly I'm supposed to be covering with her. Sometimes my school tells me to do something like practice her self-introduction, which is fine - but for two hours?! I'm not sure what I should be covering or doing with her so any suggestions or advice anyone could give would be greatly appreciated.

The other matter I need help with is with my English corner. I have one once a week for an hour with advanced students. The problem I am encountering here is that the students are at different advanced levels (some are in a class without a Chinese teacher for the first time and others speak very decent English) and they are different ages. I have students from 10 years old to 17 years old in the class. I am finding it quite difficult to find activities to suit these different ages and ability levels. I am finding that either my older students are bored because they are being forced to speak slowly or my younger students are complaining that they can't follow what is going on because we are speaking too quickly about topics they can't follow. Help!


The one-on-one is essentially tutoring. In this case, you need to prep your girl for an exam. Rather than go over a self-introduction ad infinitem et ad nauseum, maybe you can learn the test together. Involve her in the strategic discovery of the test (I call this "knowing the test"). Do you or your tutee know anything about the structure of the exam? Can you drill her through mock exam questions, to assess which areas she is strong or weak in? In other words, let the content of your tutorials be more student-directed, so that she feels more motivated to succeed.

This semester, I was duped into managing the English Corner at my university. The age range is not as extreme as yours, but the disparity in skill levels is still there. It's very important not to replicate the classroom, meaning don't stand in front of everybody and teach like you normally do. Sit down somewhere and let them gather around you. If you have other foreign teachers, let each teacher take a group of students. Reduce your teacher-talk time, so that they ask you questions, and guide them into deciding what kind of games, if any, they want to play.

The English Corner is a place for students to practice English informally, not a place for teachers to just talk like wind-up dolls. It will still feel like a petting zoo for you and your colleagues, but will be less stressful if you all talk less during English Corner. The onus to talk is on the students, as it's their activity.
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la dolce vita



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

for english corners i make it a sort of debating thing

i choose a subject, put the students in groups and give them 5 minutes or so to prepare some points for debate. it often helps if you give them an opinion that they have to argue because chinese culture doesn't seem that hot on expressing your own opinion.....

that's just my approach, other people have different approaches, and you have to keep it varied i think, so it gets boring if you do that every time....

a top top tip that i've found works for every type of conversation lesson is that when you get a deafening silence from students expecting you to do all the talking just be silent back at them and give it a couple of minutes and someone will start talking

i think with english corner it's our job to suggest something to talk about and encourage them to talk, but if we talk for the whole lesson it's a waste of time (and very difficult for us..)
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JennyJK



Joined: 03 May 2010
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice. I have tried debating in my class which worked really well - for the stronger students! I don't want to tell them they can't speak because then they have no reason to come to my English corner but its hard to get the others to talk.
I've now taken the approach of letting the older, stronger students actually lead the class. I guide them when they need it but otherwise they pretty much run the class. It seems to be working so far.

As for my one-to-one student - she has been for her interview. Although I've been given no feedback as to how it went. I now have a new student who is apparently just coming to learn English. But my colleague was caught short when his one-to-one student suddenly announced it was time for his interview in Singapore. So I am covering my bases and going through items that will help for Singapore as well as improve his English. Still not my favourite thing to do but it's getting easier.
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evolving81



Joined: 04 May 2009
Posts: 135
Location: Tampa

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you separate the students into groups can you have two (or more) groups based on level? For example, have the "stronger" students debate one another and the "weaker" students in another group. This way they will be debating students of similar levels/speaking abilities. Seems it would work better than a group of higher level students debating a group of lower level students. This would also depend on the number of students available.
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