help with teaching a polish lady

Teaching ESL to adults

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help with teaching a polish lady

Unread postby lucyw23 » 19 Jul 2005, 11:51

hi i wondered if anyone could help me. I have my first english lesson to teach this friday (polish girl in her 20's). It is private tuition and she knows the grammer side of things really well but her conversational skills are not very good. I am trying to get tips of how to improve her conversational skills without the tasks being too babyish for her! I am trying to think of role-plays and discussions for her but am struggling. If anyone has any tips or ideas it would be great to hear from you as soon as possible! I am quite nervous about this and want to be able to make my lessons exciting and as interesting as possible for her! Help!! :)
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Polish student

Unread postby rjdjones » 20 Jul 2005, 16:43

Hi,
I've taught a lot of different conversation classes and the one-to-one classes have usually been the hardest. The best thing I've found is to find material that matches up with your student's interests (instead of trying the conversation textbook gambits) - whatever she likes reading about or talking about in Polish - and use things like magazine or newspaper articles as something to talk about. For each class you should cover vocab. topics such as agreeing/disagreeing, changing the subject, interjecting - all the vocab and expressions she needs to express her opinions and keep a conversation flowing.
You could warm up by talking about something she did recently, or something she has heard about, then review the conversation vocabulary and practise it, and then discuss the chosen article/s. After you've found some articles yourself then you could encourage her to bring her own pieces to the class so you can discuss the vocabulary (check she understands meaning in this context and others, how it affects the tone of the article, it it's sarcastic or not etc.) with her as well as the subject. You can also roleplay different situations and discuss points such as taboo subjects, small talk do's and don'ts - meeting someone for the first time, talking with someone you don't know very well, workplace conversations etc. You can also develop her debating skills by picking out the usual topics and assign her, or let her choose, a "for" or "against" role.
Lots of converstions these days aren't exactly deep discussions and focus a lot on what's happening on TV and in the newspapers, the usual rubbish about celebs or Big Brother for example, so she needs encouraging to be more aware of the culture as well as the language. An easy subject to discuss at the beginning is how she feels about life in England and how it compares to life in Poland. A subject like this usually gets the quietest student to suddenly have a lot to talk about.

Hope this helps, and good luck with the classes
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Help teaching a Polish lady

Unread postby Lucy » 20 Jul 2005, 19:24

The first lesson with any student is important because it is the time to set the agenda and atmosphere for the rest of your lessons. Your student needs to feel that she will be learning in a relaxed atmosphere where her needs will be considered. Most importantly, she needs to feel that she is learning something. I think these aspects are more important than an exciting lesson.

You don't say what level your student is so I'm answering on the assumption that she can follow a conversation in English. You could start by talking to your student about her expectations. What will she be using English for; which skills are most important; what grammar points and vocabulary areas does she need to review or learn? Also talk about past learning experiences and what she would like to see repeated in lessons with you. This will help you plan subsequent lessons.

You could also ask her questions about her life, work, hobbies etc. Have a look at our lesson plans section; you'll find a worksheet there with questions in various tenses. This worksheet is aimed at upper-intermediate level; if your student is at a lower level, you can leave out some of the more difficult questions. Allow your student to talk freely with very little correction. This will allow you to ascertain her level. Note down mistakes and review them when the conversation is over or in the following lesson. Handle mistakes sensitively; give the student a chance to see the error and correct herself before you give the correct version. This will allow you to get a better idea of her level and will give your student more confidence and more opportunities for learning.

Also include an activity where the student learns something new. A good idea is to do something on vocabulary and pronunciation. Choose vocabulary items aimed at her level and in an area that will interest her. Pronunciation can be chosen to suit particular problems of Polish learners. If you don't know which areas are difficult for Polish learners, you can look at Learner English by Michael Swan. This book covers most languages and details the problems speakers of other languages encounter.

I think these activities should be enough for an hour’s lesson.

Good luck!
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