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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 14th, 2008, 12:36 pm
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Default Difficult adult beginner

Hello!
I need help with a new student. He is a 40something year old man who although very educated (he's a military surgeon) cannot grasp English. He is a Beginner, doesn't like games and demands an exact, word for word translation of everything I say or that we read. I've tried to explain that not everything can (or should) be translated but he looks at me like I'm taking him for a ride!! Does anyone have any ideas on how I can make our lessons more interesting and versatile? I'm quite bored of just doing the textbook.
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Unread Feb 14th, 2008, 07:15 pm
HUE HUE is offline
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Default Re: Difficult adult beginner

This always drives me nuts: A student who thinks he knows more about ESL pedagogy than the teacher. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, redefining goals, and settling on particular activities based on the person and his background. There's nothing wrong with admitting that a student is right, too. But I've had students who, for whatever reason, have to make the classroom a contest of wills. (It would be like going to the doctor and scoffing at his prognosis.) Not fun at all!

First, the student needs to understand that direct grammar translation definitely won't help him. The purpose of language is communication these days, and I suspect he's learning to communicate in English. He isn't learning the language to pour over books and documents and translate them from/into Italian.

Second, set short-term goals with the student. What does he want to do in one month's time? Then you can construct activities and explanations to work towards that short-term goal. This will get you away from the textbook when needed, personalize the lesson, and add versatility without the games he dislikes. Additionally, if he can track his progress by achieving these goals, then he may instill more trust in the activities and methods you choose.

Third, if each lesson continues to be a contest of wills, politely explain to him that you and he aren't a good match for the teacher-student relationship. Thank him, wish him luck, and suggest that he find another teacher better suited to his needs.

Good luck!
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Unread Feb 15th, 2008, 01:11 am
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Default Re: Difficult adult beginner

Thanks for the advice Hue.
What you said about communication is right on the button. That's what he said he wanted! The reason he came to me in the first place is that while on mission in Afghanistan he got faint from hunger because he couldn't say ''I'm hungry''. (Maybe he should sign up for Gesture classes too).
On the more serious side, I'll be speaking to him today. I think my tendency to be smiley and friendly and, at times, too helpful is not the right approach for this man. He needs me to be more aggresive and straightforward.
We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, thanks again!!
P.S. this site has saved my behind a million times. It's grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!
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Unread Dec 19th, 2008, 12:19 am
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Default Hi!

I'm a new member of your site. I have read all the posted messages and i found out that i need it also to ask for your help.
I'm an ESL teacher for over 2 years but unfortunately, i found out that im running out of topics for free talking class for elementary student. Can you give some tips?

Thanks a lot...

TERACE
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Unread Jan 6th, 2009, 04:00 am
HUE HUE is offline
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Default Re: Difficult adult beginner

Do you mean elementary age students or students at the beginning of their English studies?

In the meantime, there are a lot of problem-solving activities that you can use with your classes. Here's one as an example:

Step One: Students interview three peers about their last vacation, weekend plans, best/worst experience... whatever may be of interest or relevant to the target language and topic. The teacher should decide on the topic beforehand, though. Students take notes and ask follow-up questions with each person.

Step Two: Students get into pairs and share their answers.

Step Three: The pairs then decide on the best vacation, plans, experience, etc.

This has students talk a lot, but it also has them reuse language. With each step, their speaking becomes smoother and with fewer mistakes. This helps build confidence too. It also means that, as a teacher, you don't have to prepare twenty questions for each lesson.

I hope this idea helps.
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Unread Jan 7th, 2009, 07:54 pm
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Smile Re: Difficult adult beginner

Thanks for the reply but i've already used that kind of ideas....They are elementary students but have excellent English. The only problem i have now is I'm running out of topics to discuss.I've researched from the internet some ideas and I've successfully used it. Thanks a lot. I hope you can give me more topics to apply for my free talking class....
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