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Tutoring 'Conversation' - How?
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kzprivate



Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:42 am    Post subject: Tutoring 'Conversation' - How? Reply with quote

My student wants to improve her conversation skill. She wants to have a central topic and just chat on that topic for the entire lesson. Our first topic is "movie-making" ...

I'm not an expert on movie-making so I'm just doing some research on how a movie is made (briefly). All the stages in making a movie. But I'm not sure how to start the lesson. It seemed that she didn't just want to chat on "who's your favourite actor/actress" or "what's your favorite movie" kind of topics ...

Help!

Thanks!

Kathy
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Sinaman



Joined: 23 May 2009
Posts: 82

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best thing for the both of you is to get her to talk as much as possible (obviously).

Get her to start talking about whatever knowledge she has on the subject and play on your own ignorance and ask her questions based on what she says, making her talk for most of the time. Stop the conversation only to correct whatever mistakes she makes.
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alter ego



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sinaman wrote:
Get her to start talking about whatever knowledge she has on the subject and play on your own ignorance and ask her questions based on what she says, making her talk for most of the time. Stop the conversation only to correct whatever mistakes she makes.


Correction should be used sparingly as communication and fluency are more important for students who want to "talk" with a foreigner. If she's particular about topic knowledge, print out information from the Internet and use it as the source or starting point of your conversations.

Focus on vocabulary, comprehension, pronucnciation, and fluency. Maybe do some role plays wih her, e.g., she's a famous actress you you're interviewing her about her next film, etc. Then switch. Students generally get bored very quickly with general "discussion" type questions.
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Hansen



Joined: 13 Oct 2008
Posts: 737
Location: central China

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is what I mean about most English teachers. No clue. Just take the money. Not that I'm much different.

How about the "teacher" (heehee) provides some written material in English and Chinese (if available) to the student. The subject matter will be whatever has been agreed upon. Let the student preview/study the material. The two can than have a discussion, based on the written material.

How about something like that?
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Jordean



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 238

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pick another topic. That one sounds dull.
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thefuzz



Joined: 10 Aug 2009
Posts: 271

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordean wrote:
Pick another topic. That one sounds dull.


Agree. Why would you even pick a topic that you had no clue about? Usually when you teach/talk about something you know the lessons will be much better and more beneficial to the student. But if all you want is quick cash, you can just as easily bulls**t your way through. Your choice.
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ShanghaiSurprise



Joined: 03 Mar 2008
Posts: 47
Location: Korea...soon China

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely disagree.

If you don't know anything about the topic then it's PERFECT.

That means you will need to know information, and the only person able to provide it is...

drumroll.......

YOUR STUDENT.


Just master the art of asking for more details and listening closely to find things you can "pretend" are confusing so you can constantly ask for clarification.


For conversation classes...learn to ask questions... as previous posters said, keep the talking on the student's side and you'll be fine.
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thefuzz



Joined: 10 Aug 2009
Posts: 271

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ShanghaiSurprise wrote:
I completely disagree.

If you don't know anything about the topic then it's PERFECT.

That means you will need to know information, and the only person able to provide it is...

drumroll.......

YOUR STUDENT.


Just master the art of asking for more details and listening closely to find things you can "pretend" are confusing so you can constantly ask for clarification.


For conversation classes...learn to ask questions... as previous posters said, keep the talking on the student's side and you'll be fine.


WOW, great, but to ask QUESTIONS that are ON TOPIC and will make the student want to explain more and converse one needs to know at least a bit about "movie making" to pull it off. You don't need to be a walking encyclopedia, but at least some knowledge is necessary to even GET THE CONVERSATION STARTED.
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ShanghaiSurprise



Joined: 03 Mar 2008
Posts: 47
Location: Korea...soon China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm unsure why you say there would be problems starting off the conversation without background knowledge.

I would just say,

"Okay, why don't you start off by telling me about the background of the industry and describing some of the aspects you think are interesting."

Then just move the conversation forward.


When I meet a westerner from a different industry, I don't say "Can you hold on a second? Before I talk to you I have to go home and research about your industry or else we can't have a conversation."


I've talked with countless students about topics totally new to me...and I do the same thing every time... I ask them questions and let them provide me with information.

As soon as it gets confusing, then you know to show some corrections based on either content or grammar.


In my personal opinion, it's not that big of a problem.
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thefuzz



Joined: 10 Aug 2009
Posts: 271

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ShanghaiSurprise wrote:
I'm unsure why you say there would be problems starting off the conversation without background knowledge.

I would just say,

"Okay, why don't you start off by telling me about the background of the industry and describing some of the aspects you think are interesting."

Then just move the conversation forward.


When I meet a westerner from a different industry, I don't say "Can you hold on a second? Before I talk to you I have to go home and research about your industry or else we can't have a conversation."


I've talked with countless students about topics totally new to me...and I do the same thing every time... I ask them questions and let them provide me with information.

As soon as it gets confusing, then you know to show some corrections based on either content or grammar.


In my personal opinion, it's not that big of a problem.


If you don't see a problem then most likely you've never taught Chinese students. 95% of them cannot or will not initiate a conversation. There are many reasons: loss of face if they get something wrong, shyness, etc...

The other 5% are very open to conversation and will be able to talk at length with the teacher helping them along with follow-up questions, but that's a rare breed of student. Hopefully the student that the OP will teach is within the 5% or else it's going to be one hell of a boring and quiet conversation...not to mention uncomfortable.

And don't compare yourself, a native speaker, to a student of the English language.
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ShanghaiSurprise



Joined: 03 Mar 2008
Posts: 47
Location: Korea...soon China

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear thefuzz...

I don't recall comparing myself to the students.

In your previous 2 posts you seem to be bringing some attitude to the table.

I don't believe your statistics are anything more than just your opinion. Because of that, I don't think they hold much weight. However, if you care to direct me to the website where you learned about your 95% statistic it would be much appreciated. At that time, I'll be happy to change my opinion.
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nobleignoramus



Joined: 17 Jul 2009
Posts: 208
Location: On the road

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not believe any more that your student should simply talk her head off. Fluency is important? Why? Proficiency is. But "fluency", what exactly is that?

And why shouldn't teac hers correct her?

Here is the likely outcome of your tutoring: Your student will memorise a speech to the topic chosen by you. She will probably translate it into Chinese, then, during the speaking, retranslate it (back into what she perceives to be English). The result will be a major disaster - "fluency" probably, but not good English.

Why are students so clueless as to what thyey might want to talk about? Why does a tutor have to decide on what they have to speak about?

I know I haven't made any helpful suggestion as to what you could do; but then again I do not know your student any better than you do. Still,
I believe it is easy to find some topic for her to talk about; her goal ought to be to understand questions and to address them appropriately, then to speak clearly and to vary her answers according to the circumstances. Fluency comes when she can make educated decisions as to what she needs to improve (and that nearly always is her mastery of grammar). Speaking is not just a transforming of words in the memory to oral noises; it requires that your student's Chinese-wired brain and her memory work in tamdem.

Try to prevent her from merely regurgitating well-rehearsed soundbytes.
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Hansen



Joined: 13 Oct 2008
Posts: 737
Location: central China

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A tape recorder can be useful in a situation like this. After the student prepares for the conversation by looking over some written material, tape the conversation. Do not interrupt the conversation for corrective purposes. After the conversation has been completed, REVIEW the tape.

At that time, the corrections can be made. Then try it again and tape it again. When finished, review it again, making more corrections as necessary. Get it?
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kzprivate



Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thefuzz wrote:
Jordean wrote:
Pick another topic. That one sounds dull.


Agree. Why would you even pick a topic that you had no clue about? Usually when you teach/talk about something you know the lessons will be much better and more beneficial to the student. But if all you want is quick cash, you can just as easily bulls**t your way through. Your choice.


The topic was chosen by the student. I wanted her to pick something that SHE's interested in and familiar with so I can get HER to explain more things to ME.. Otherwise, if it were something that she's not interested nor have a clue about, then the whole class would be me blah-ing most of the time ... thus a LISTENING LESSON .. -___-"
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The Ever-changing Cleric



Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 1523

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think once you start doing these private lessons with a student the conversation will shift off topic before long. Which isnt a bad thing because it often means you've just connected with the student and conversation just starts to flow more easily.

Personally i dont like one to one private lessons because if the student is hesitant about something, or weaker in english there's noone else to turn to get ideas or to help keep it flowing. i've had that experience before. a group of 2-3 would be better, at least in my opinion.
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