HELP! New student

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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HELP! New student

Unread postby abil1 » 16 Apr 2009, 11:39

Hi Lucy,

I was wondering if you could help me with some suggestions for a new student.

I've been asked to take some trial lessons with an adult student who I am told has very basic English (as far as I understand she knows the alphabet and a few words but not much else).

I believe she would like help learning how to form sentences before moving on to more complex things. I was wondering whether you could suggest any techniques to approach this (i.e. start by teaching some new vocabulary, moving on to basic sentences such as "my name is...")

As a very inexperienced (and unqualified) teacher I am a little worried about this. I want to do a good job, but am worried that I will have to communicate more in Russian (my student's first language) than in English. Having fairly basic Russian speaking skills myself would you suggest it is better to jump straight in to speaking English as much as possible (i.e. so that even if the student doesn't understand everything, at least she is hearing the sounds of English) or rather to try and work within her first language.

This may seem a little vague but any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated,


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Re: HELP! New student

Unread postby Lucy » 18 Apr 2009, 18:55


I would start by revising the alphabet and checking whether she knows numbers. You can then teach and practise the verb to be. You can do this by teaching ‘my name is.....’, then progress to nationalities and later occupations. Teaching nationalities and jobs will also build her vocabulary. Remember to take it slowly at this level and include a lot of revision. You can teach the affirmative of the verb ‘to be’ in one lesson; move onto questions and revision of affirmative in the next lesson and then work on negatives. It’s a good idea to use a course book at this level; it’s probably more important than at any other level, especially if you are a new teacher. The book will provide a syllabus and structure for what you’re going to teach.

As for which language you should use, I suggest you use English. As you say, it’s important that she hears as much English as possible. At beginner level, this is possible through the use of mime and pictures when teaching vocabulary and short phrases. When teaching grammar, teach as much as possible by showing examples. If your student doesn’t understand all the examples, you can periodically use Russian. A lot of time can be saved through the use of your student’s mother tongue but this should be treated as a last resort.


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