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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 20th, 2009, 10:38 am
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Default Testing communicative ability

Hello!

I have a new class starting on Monday with one adult student. Does anybody have any good ideas for the first lesson and testing her ability so that I can plan the rest of the lessons? I have no idea on her level at the moment because she would only speak to me on the phone in her first language. I need something fun to engage and keep her interested, that allows me to obtain more information about her level and appears professional and organised! How do I ensure that these things aren't too easy or too advanced?

Many thanks
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 23rd, 2009, 11:17 pm
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Smile Re: Testing communicative ability

Hey there,

Start off with some simple introductions, as it`s your first lesson. You should be able to learn a little about the student`s ability from the response time, response length and control of grammatical structures.

You should probably choose a topic that anyone can talk about in simple terms for the first lesson, for example food. This means you can ask questions ranging from "What`s your favourite food?" to "If a visitor was coming to your country, what kind of restaurants would you recommend?Why?". If you do this you can expand the lesson to suit a high-level student, or you can keep it simple by introducing a list of adjectives to describe food and having the student match the adjective with one kind of food (for example sweet, salty, bitter, creamy, spicy etc.) It`s good if you can use some kind of visual aid, for example pictures of food from a magazine to use as an initial talking point.

Depending on the student`s level you could also introduce a role play, for example ordering in a restaurant or complaining if they already have a good standard of communicative ability.

Hope this helps!Good luck!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 25th, 2009, 04:38 pm
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Default Re: Testing communicative ability

I agree with Lynxy2. These are all good ideas for a first lesson. Remember: The student will be getting comfortable with English and you as a teacher, so you want to foster a positive, supportive, and collaborative atmosphere.

I'll also offer a word of caution. If the student is largely talking about him/herself, which is typical in a first lesson, then his/her productive level may seem higher than it truly is. When a student speaks about familiar topics (and especially him/herself), fluency markedly improves. As a result, you may incorrectly pick some more difficult topics in the second, third, or fourth lessons.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 27th, 2009, 10:13 am
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Default Re: Testing communicative ability

Thanks guys! That's really helpful. I'll just start slow. On the phone she told me that she was at a basic level (which I have material to teach) but she wouldn't speak in English so I guess that building up confidence is definitely a main issue! So I'll start like you said - with general conversation questions and see if we can answer any and if not start from the beginning of the book reviewing the basics.

Hue - thanks for the heads up - that's a good point that I probably would have forgotten and will definitely take into consideration! Thanks!
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Unread Oct 7th, 2009, 07:41 am
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Default Re: Testing communicative ability

Glad to be of help. Let us all know how it goes.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 22nd, 2009, 05:50 am
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Default Re: Testing communicative ability

yep , you can make every student to introduce himself so she will feel as one more member of the class , and after you introduce a simple topic , make them work in pairs , try to find out with who she would feel more confident to work and express her habilities.

cheers!
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Unread Nov 12th, 2009, 07:20 am
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Default

I'll start like you said - with general conversation questions and see if we can answer any and if not start from the beginning of the book reviewing the basics.
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Unread Nov 13th, 2009, 08:59 am
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Default Re: Testing communicative ability

Hello,

My experience has been that students tend to play down their English ability. An advanced student is likely to tell you that he is a beginner. This is a natural defense mechanism. If I'm not using a formal assessment, I will just start up a conversation. I'll make sure to speak in the past tense and the conditional and see how the student responds. After about five minutes, you can usually get a good idea of the student's basic level. Good luck!
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