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Waldroon
February 28th, 2009, 00:42
I'm going to be doing a 1 on 1 conversation class with a woman who has intermediate level English (good with grammar, knows a decent # of words, etc....just lacks practice putting it all together).

I'm in the exact same boat, but with Japanese.

I've already got some ideas on things to talk about or ways to communicate, but has anyone else been in this situation before in their conversation classes who can offer some tips and pointers?

Mostly I'm curious if I should try to just talk back and forth as best we can, or encourage one person to talk for awhile, then the other? Are there any techniques to smooth out the times when neither of you knows the word the other is searching for?

Is it better to respond to her in Japanese and have her talk to me in English?

I've started reading through the threads here so hopefully I'm not asking a bunch of redundant questions....just looking for any advice.

xoxobra
February 28th, 2009, 10:31
So is it just a conversational thing or are there certain objectives you'll cover or worksheets you'll work on? I might be able to recommend some things but I don't want to tell you things you may already know.

I teach English to Burundian refugees of different skill levels and I find going over worksheets or relevant, everyday topics (grocery lists; filling out applications, etc) seems to work well. I usually just speak in English as much as possible (though this is more due to my lack of knowledge of Kirundi) and resort to miming or drawing pictures when all else fails. Even if an intermediate level speaker doesn't quite understand, I figure it's good to just speak clearly in order to immerse them in the language.

Waldroon
February 28th, 2009, 11:06
I know not a damn thing about teaching English. This is entirely informal; my Japanese teacher just told me she had a friend looking to practice her English, and I said I'd be willing to do it.

Basically strictly conversational, I'm not supposed to act as a professor per se, but I have no idea what direction the whole thing will go.

I'll make sure I bring a couple felt-tip markers though, there are white boards there.

Saitaman
February 28th, 2009, 22:09
I’ve done the 1-1 conversation thing.

One language at a time is best, if you are teaching English use English and make her use English (If it a language exchange you should use the first half of the class period for one language and the second half for the other language). You don't have to fancy about it, ask her what she is interested in after you know that you can find several topics that will interest her, but try not to talk above her level. I wouldn’t use the chalk board for one on one. Bring a pen and paper, if you notice something she does really well (it is good to reinforce things they are doing correctly) or needs to improve on make note of it (don’t correct mistakes during the conversation time if you can avoid it), also write vocabulary words she didn’t understand (hopefully there won’t be more than a few on that list), go over the paper at the end of the conversation class and give it to her before she leaves.

Saitaman
February 28th, 2009, 22:12
oh, if their are a lot of grammar mistakes, don't try to correct all of them in one session. Limit it no more than five.

Waldroon
March 1st, 2009, 15:09
Those are some good points, I'll keep them in mind.

katsudon
March 4th, 2009, 10:31
I agree with bringing in some materials. Do show and tell for each other. Read something together and have a conversation about it. (ie recipe, short article, application)

Lee
March 6th, 2009, 00:14
i have a very similar 1 on 1, but i can't speak Japanese at all and the student's English level is to the point where he can barely read, let alone speak. it's definitely one of the more difficult classes for me, since the student is in his mid 20's and i can't pull out flashcards and play karuta with him.

i do a LOT of bookwork, a structured and organized lesson plan with minimal "free talk". If there's no book to be had, series of questions such as:

Do you like...
What's your favorite...
Can you...
Would you....
etc

We go over lots of simple and usual conversational questions, "Where do you live?", "what do you do?", etc and how to answer them properly. If there's time left over, we go over phonics (at this point im forced to bring out the elementary school charts because his phonics level is minimal) or keiyooshi cards. I ask him to make very simple and repetitive sentences with them:

The car is red.
The car is big.
The car is small.
etc


saitaman's vocab list idea is definitely a great idea. i use that for most of my adult classes anyhow when they look at me quizzically after I use a word they don't know. by the end of it, they have a list of 10 or so words I ask them to use next week in our conversations (which are mostly, "what did you do last weekend?")

Waldroon
March 9th, 2009, 21:52
By the way we had our first lesson together, and it went very well. Her English is very, very good...but she doesn't know many turns of phrase, and there were a few other things she stumbled on.

The surprise came in that she said she wanted to do the lesson 50/50, so I spent the second half of our hour stumbling through Japanese, which I'm not nearly as good at. Apparently she had a partner like me before but couldn't kick her lingering sense of guilt over getting lessons for free, even though he was a JET applicant and the experience was great for him to learn eikaiwa-style teaching.

In any case, she insists that we are gonna do 50/50 lessons, so I'm rolling with the punches and figuring it will be good practice for me.

Next lesson I think I'm gonna tell her to bring in some pictures and I'll do the same, it'll be a good way to practice talking about family and friends, as well as photos in general.

I saw your suggestions of writing down things that went good/bad and missed vocab words Saitaman, so I'll be trying that out next class.

AliDimayev
March 9th, 2009, 21:55
And please give me more advice for my eikaiwai. bring problem is the range in the people in it.

Lee
March 9th, 2009, 23:25
And please give me more advice for my eikaiwai. bring problem is the range in the people in it.

i have a large adult class that has ranges from barely able to string sentences to wow-you-don't-need-to-take-English-classes.

and there's really no easy way around it other than lowering my standards for the students who aren't as good. the hardest part is to make it feel "equal" for the whole class; as in, me attempting to cover the fact that i am enjoying/focusing on one student more so than the other ones. too late for that, since i already fudged it up the first week by calling the best student in the class the "star student" (which I said sarcastically, but I couldn't expect them to pick that up).

one of things that has worked with the students who aren't as advanced is that I advise them to use Nihongo for words they don't know instead of staring blankly for 20 seconds trying to think of it (which I think is a time waster and just makes em more nervous). or if they feel brave enough, to attempt to describe it using gestures/the limited English they do know. pocket dictionaries help as well. I encourage this and insist that it's part of the learning process and helps everyone, even the ones who are much more advanced.

im a shitty teacher in this regard....haha sorry ali, im in your boat. i'd like to hear if anyone else has some good ideas.

AliDimayev
March 10th, 2009, 08:54
ok. So today I have my eikaiwa for the teachers. Kyoto sensei I should look on the internet for a textbook and then the school will order them. So any suggestions for textbook?

secondly, any ideas I should do for today. For the latter half of the class with the fluent speakers I want to talk about differences between american/japanese schools as well as my surprise that the only time i heard the Japanese anthem and saw the flag at school was at graduation.

But for the first part of class, any ideas?  Just tell me the last thing you did in your EIKAIWA!

katsudon
March 10th, 2009, 10:37
I go to eikaiwa sans plan and talk about fuck all, usually my life and my travelling and most recently my boyfriend. Unsurprisingly, my eikaiwa is poorly attended.

AliDimayev
March 10th, 2009, 10:52
See. I could do that off the cuff just talking stuff with about 4 or 5 of the teachers there, it's the 6 or 7 rather low level that give me actual work to do.

Waldroon
March 13th, 2009, 00:36
My 1 on 1 conversation class thing is going pretty well, but I could use some ideas for topics of discussion, I'd hate to run out mid way.

One thing I've learned is to be more interactive with her, I was letting her speak without inturrupting or responding too much so she could practice more, and just stopping her when she said something incorrectly....but she told me she'd rather I jump into the conversation more often so she doesn't have to constantly think up things to say.

I had thought she was thinking about how to say it, not what to say next....so now things are more conversational than before, and it's been an interesting experience.

But, like I said....I could always use ideas for topics of conversation. I think next class I'll ask her to tell me more about where she grew up in Japan, and differences she noticed between Japan and America.

Lee
March 15th, 2009, 23:53
My 1 on 1 conversation class thing is going pretty well, but I could use some ideas for topics of discussion, I'd hate to run out mid way.

One thing I've learned is to be more interactive with her, I was letting her speak without inturrupting or responding too much so she could practice more, and just stopping her when she said something incorrectly....but she told me she'd rather I jump into the conversation more often so she doesn't have to constantly think up things to say.

I had thought she was thinking about how to say it, not what to say next....so now things are more conversational than before, and it's been an interesting experience.

But, like I said....I could always use ideas for topics of conversation. I think next class I'll ask her to tell me more about where she grew up in Japan, and differences she noticed between Japan and America.

question: is she hot and are you trying to tap that ass?


after most of the usual topics were tapped out in my adult classes, I had to turn to hypotheticals:

- What are three things you would do if you were Taro Aso?
- Your house is on fire and your family is safe. Tel me three things you would save.
- If you could live anywhere, where would you want to live?
- Happiest, scariest, most embarassing experiences.
- If you were forced to take 4 more years of college right now, what subject would you want to study?
- Most prized possession?
- Aladdin scenario
- 1 million dollar scenario
- etc

Depending on their level, I try to play devil's advocate. I have them usually give me a reason as to their choices.

wicket
March 16th, 2009, 05:10
And please give me more advice for my eikaiwai. bring problem is the range in the people in it.
Get someone who can speak English to teach it.

Waldroon
March 19th, 2009, 04:35
I’ve done the 1-1 conversation thing.

One language at a time is best, if you are teaching English use English and make her use English (If it a language exchange you should use the first half of the class period for one language and the second half for the other language). You don't have to fancy about it, ask her what she is interested in after you know that you can find several topics that will interest her, but try not to talk above her level. I wouldn’t use the chalk board for one on one. Bring a pen and paper, if you notice something she does really well (it is good to reinforce things they are doing correctly) or needs to improve on make note of it (don’t correct mistakes during the conversation time if you can avoid it), also write vocabulary words she didn’t understand (hopefully there won’t be more than a few on that list), go over the paper at the end of the conversation class and give it to her before she leaves.

So, from my few lessons so far:

She has good vocab and grammar, although she tends to leave out the 's' on plurals, 'the/a/an' before nouns, and a few other things (which I understand are fairly common for Japanese speakers learning English?).

She generally seem to be having a good time in class, and have run over our set time every lesson....so we aren't running out of things to say. We brought in some pictures yesterday from vacations and talked about them, which went well. Although, I think I've confused her a few times by giving her words that she doesn't need to know for most conversations.

In any case what I'm debating with myself is if I should keep it what it is now, a very casual conversation class where we just talk and ask questions back and forth....or try to work in more of what you were saying, writing down vocab missed, things to work on, maybe bring in some sort of worksheet or activity sheets....etc.

I can see the pros and cons of each, and will probably try various things out (after all, this is as much a learning experience for me as for her).

I have been prompting her during conversations if she is fishing for a word for awhile or misses a plural, etc....is this bad, do you think?

Thoughts?

Saitaman
March 19th, 2009, 06:20
You may want to find topics with more specialized vocabulary. Ask her about cooking and how she prepares her favorite dishes.

Saitaman
March 19th, 2009, 06:24
I have been prompting her during conversations if she is fishing for a word for awhile or misses a plural, etc....is this bad, do you think?

Thoughts?

I wouldn't do that too much, see what she comes up with on her own. Unless there is a very long uncomfortable pause. Ask for clearification if you don't understand.

kamukamuume
June 17th, 2009, 15:47
Kind of resurrecting this one. Do you guys have any tips in particular for very, very low level speakers who just want to have fun? I have 4 girls at my school (they come in pairs of 2 on different days of the week) who want to do Eikaiwa practice, but they're hardly able to understand anything.

I feel like there are students for whom you need to dumb down your English, and then there are students who just don't know enough to understand even extremely dumbed down English--for them you need to basically use a script with lots of repetition. My kids are all in the latter camp.

Does anyone have any scripts/worksheets they've made for this purpose? If I don't plan in advance, I always find myself grasping for straws while the kids are probably wondering what the hell I'm on about.

katsudon
June 17th, 2009, 16:00
You could make a question jar sort of thing. Write short English questions 'What singer do you like?' 'What is your favorite color?' 'Do you play any sports?' 'Where were you born?' on bright pieces of paper and such. You can then coach them on how to answer the questions, and do some simple practice based on that.

tracker
June 17th, 2009, 20:46
kingmongkut, i had my first class with a student like the ones you described,....spent most of the time winging it and doing much grasping.

but yeah, figure out a basic script, something as close to a normal daily conversation as possible, and then break it down into modular chunks. spend time on each chunk until they can get all the way through the "conversation".

but i think i might google for some movie scripts for the next session, as winging it was way more stressful than i could have imagined.

edesuyo
June 20th, 2009, 00:54
Here's some advice from the prospective of the student. I have 4 years of university Japanese under my belt, and for the past year, I've had 1on1 or 3on1 conversation classes as supplements.

Most frustrating thing is when the other person attempts to finish my sentences for me way too soon, when I know how to say what I want to say but am just going about it slowly/carefully. Like, I'll get the subject out, and a split second later, I'm being fed an assumed sentence to go with it. It's often the wrong idea too....

I guess the advice would be: know the level of your student. If they are more advanced, then make sure they have the confidence to stab half-blindly at what they want to say, and give them the time they need to say it. If there's still a problem knowing whether they are still thinking or are just stuck, maybe encourage them to use "ano..." or "umm..." to indicate they are still thinking.

Marrissey
June 22nd, 2009, 00:06
Kingmong - I think when the English level is low a lot of planning is required. I have a similar small group and photos work great (though obviously the printing costs and stuff are a bit of a pain) - tend to print lots of stuff from England and just talk about it with them. One of them went on holiday to Australia so I got her to bring in her photo album and we asked her about it.

I am also a BIG fan of what edesuyo said. It is so hard to be patient enough as a teacher, especially one on one, and sometimes to tell if the student is completely confused or thinking of something. I often have what I think are very awkward silences, but then a second or two later it becomes clear to me the students are just trying to make the sentence in their head to ask me stuff.