helping advanced students improve spontaneous grammar

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helping advanced students improve spontaneous grammar

Post by k9fan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:40 pm

My advanced one-on-one tutoring student, a PhD research fellow, has said that he would like to work on correct grammar in speaking. I have another prospective set of students who are professionals with a similar need. They are from a variety of Asian countries.

Does anyone have any tips or references to material that can help me to help these students most effectively? I can't think of any approach beyond having them stand up and give two-minute spontaneous talks on some subject, and then correcting their errors one by one. Sounds dull already, and also slow and unstructured. How will I make sure we touch on all the significant trouble spots?

Are there any guides on how to methodically go about improving not just the phonological qualities of speech but specifically the grammar and syntax of spontaneously produced English, with students who have many years of English education, who probably have extensive vocabularies, but who are still making fundamental mistakes that affect their comprehensibility?

Also, should I record their spontaneous speech, or is that likely to make them so nervous as to adversely affect it? I think it would do that to me if I were in their shoes, but on the other hand, how can they review the problem areas without a record?

Sally Olsen
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Post by Sally Olsen » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:16 pm

Since you obviously type very well, you might consider typing as the students talk. Let them tell you about a subject for as long as you can keep typing, print out copies for both of you and then go over the piece and ask them where they can improve. You can also point out what the differences are between how they speak and how they might write about the same topic. In fact, you can give them a copy of the speech and let them write about it for homwork. Then tape record the speech so they can practice speaking with you. They can use the printed speech as a script until they can do it from memory. If you choose topics they might have to speak about with a foreigner or in their business, it will be much more motivating for them. Of course it will make them self-conscious but they will be that way in any situation that is not natural. It might help to tape them if they go too quickly for your typing skills or if you want a dialogue where you contribute as well.

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Post by Atassi » Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:15 am

Makes me wish I could type 70 wpm, instead of my current 35-40 poking. I like your suggestion though.

Similar to the previous idea, you can also use video. Or if you use a tape recorder as previously suggested, you can at least have them listen to themselves. You can also have them do the work of typing and self-correcting. This might make your time seem more productive, as you can quickly see what they have done and answer any questions they might have. Afterwards, you can work on it further from there based on their needs.

Good luck,


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