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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 19th, 2011, 01:53 pm
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Default How to design a lesson for a student whose English level is unknown?

I will be teaching a new adult student who was assigned to me by the company I am working for. Unfortunately, they did not give me much information about her. I heard that she is the wife of the president of the company. I am not sure of her English background or level. Therefore, I am not sure where I should start for the first day, or what my lesson plan should be given that I have very little to go off of.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

I would like to do conversation, maybe some grammar, and pronunciation. How can I make those work for my upcoming lesson?

Thanks!!
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Unread Nov 20th, 2011, 07:35 pm
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Default Re: How to design a lesson for a student whose English level is unknown?

I would totally suggest basing your lesson around introductions. Try to think about the lesson as an assessment. Introductions are something that can also be varied depending on the student's level. A low level speaker can be taught "to be," as in, "I am New Student nice to meet you." If the student is high beginner or intermediate you can teach the additional types of answers for the question "How are you?" It seems to me many students get drilled the response, "Fine, thank you and you?" Teach them the more common colloquial responses. "Alright, okay, good" The higher the level is the more variations you can use. I've used introductions to teach the use of the word "pretty."
Teaching the students pretty good and pretty lousy then eliciting what they thought, "pretty" meant, then explaining the difference between very and pretty. There are all kinds of options in a lesson on introductions.
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Unread Nov 21st, 2011, 02:34 am
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Default Re: How to design a lesson for a student whose English level is unknown?

Start by finding out! Start with a short conversation in which you ask her to tell you about herself and why she needs to learn English. If she can't cope with this, then she's a beginner - if you can find out the info you need (see below) in her own language. But then have some materials at beginner level to turn to for the rest of the lesson - a lesson on introductions, would be fine and is included in most beginner coursebooks. If she can cope with the conversation however, you can base the whole lesson on a) the general "getting to know you" conversation about her b) a structured Needs Analysis questionnaire c) a level test. Just Google level test EFL and Needs Analysis EFL to see examples.

But eg in the needs analysis you'll be trying to find out things like :
Personal info : Who is she? Past life including studies, work etc; if she doesn't work, how does she spend her day? interests and hobbies?
Experience of learning English : when? where? exams taken? stays in the US/UK or other English speaking countries?
Experience of using English : when does she usually use English - for travel? to socialise with company clients/colleagues? to read/watch films? for her own work?
Why does she want to improve her English now? - the same as above, or something specific in the future - eg she and her husband will be moving to the US
What has she enjoyed/disliked about learning English in the past? eg does she like learning through conversation? through systematic grammar study? does she luike things explained in her own language or everything in English?
What has she found easy/ difficult about learning English in the past: eg listening? grammar? speaking?
What are her priorities for the course? eg improving her ability to have social conversations; improving her ability to attend conferences for her own work etc etc

You really need this info to design a decent course - so if you can't get it in English and can't speak her language, I'd anyway have a translated version of the questionnaire and ask her to fill that in - then get someone to translate her answers for me.

The info you get will then help you choose the materials for the course. Eg if you find out she needs to learn because she has to host/attend dinner parties with her husband's colleagues/clients, or maybe show their accompanying partners around the town, you know you need to focus on general social conversation, but also things like talking about food, explaining the history/sights of her town etc. If on the other hand it turns out that she works as a doctor and needs to attend medical conferences in English, you'll be looking for material on that.

In the lesson, follow the Needs Analysis up with a test to find out what level she is - and that should take up anything up to an hour and a half (you don't say how long the lesson is).

If there's time left over, do a bit of general conversation - eg tell me about your life when you were a small child. Where did you live? did you have lots of brothers and sisters? what's your earliest memory? do you remember your first day at school? etc etc While she speaks, take notes of her mistakes - which will give you more info about her level and needs. Spend the last fifteen mins or so focusing on a few of those mistakes which you think you can explain quickly and easily.

Alternatively/additionally, ask her to think of five questions to ask you about yourself, and answer them fully (you've asked her everything, now it's her turn). This helps establish rapport and shows you her listening ability and ability to form questions.

Filling up the first lesson is rarely a problem - it's what comes next that's the real challenge
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Unread Nov 21st, 2011, 04:36 am
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Default Re: How to design a lesson for a student whose English level is unknown?

Susan- you are spot on! Great explanations for creating an introductory lesson.

Something I would add- if this student turns out to be advanced, ask them about their life experiences (has she traveled to many countries?) and what sorts of textbooks/materials they've used before- what did they like about those materials and what did they hate? Private students are the best because you can completely structure the lesson to their needs and likes, instead of needing to find that precarious balance that keeps a room of 4-12 people happy.

Good luck!!
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Unread Nov 21st, 2011, 09:32 am
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Default Re: How to design a lesson for a student whose English level is unknown?

Hello,

I wouldn't do too much lesson planning for the first day. Take the time to feel out the situation and give assessment type tests to determine the level. Sounds like you have a VIP student! Susan's post above seems to cover a lot of the different things you can do. Good luck!
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