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Torinn88
October 29th, 2015, 15:15
What would be a good way to handle lessons for an almost complete beginner?

Since I'm not speaking about a specific student that exists, I'll give an example of what I might expect:


Had basic English in middle/high school, can read roman letters, knows a little bit of vocabulary and basic grammar. Adjectives and modifiers are probably out of the question. They seem unable (or hesitant) to form sentences and questions. Most likely can understand via short reading/listening a bit more than they can produce.

I have a good textbook, but 99.9% of all my students can at least ask/answer basic questions, and this got me wondering what I should do for a complete zero.

Role play scripts (example) at the beginning, and ending with fill-in the blank scripts at the end is one idea I've been mulling over.

What do you do?

webstaa
October 29th, 2015, 16:30
Are they really absolute beginners? Can they read/recognize romaji? Can they understand any English (even if they can't produce any)?

Usually most "absolute beginners" start with greetings and romaji. Conversationally, greetings and simple (set) phrases work great as well.

This is what Japanese kids get at elementary school: "Hello, my name is XXXXX. How are you? I'm fine, thank you." and a bunch of simple vocabulary. For adults, I'd think that catering to their interest is the best approach - so they want to be conversational, start with a few phrases to get them talking and work your way into reading and writing.

Ebi
October 29th, 2015, 16:38
I think you need to give a lot more context to get appropriate advice. By "complete zero" do you mean they've never had an English class in their life, or do you mean they just can't do anything as well as the rest of your students despite taking the same amount of classes?

What sort of class is this? What sort of curriculum do you use? How old are your students? Are you in charge or are you just assisting? Have you talked to your other teachers about your concerns?

I don't know enough to give solid advice, but my knee-jerk reaction is that role-plays are pretty difficult for students who are absolute beginners. However, many Japanese students have stronger reading and writing abilities than speaking so simple fill-in-the-blanks or matching activities might be doable.

Torinn88
October 29th, 2015, 17:41
Are they really absolute beginners? Can they read/recognize romaji? Can they understand any English (even if they can't produce any)?


Going off a basic assumption, I'll say "yes" to recognizing roman letters and understanding a bit more than they can produce.


What sort of class is this? What sort of curriculum do you use? How old are your students? Are you in charge or are you just assisting? Have you talked to your other teachers about your concerns?

I don't know enough to give solid advice, but my knee-jerk reaction is that role-plays are pretty difficult for students who are absolute beginners. However, many Japanese students have stronger reading and writing abilities than speaking so simple fill-in-the-blanks or matching activities might be doable.

I'm actually going off a hypothetical student so I can prepare if such a situation actually comes up, but here's some information I can give you:

I teach conversation classes (eikaiwa), the curriculum focuses on student output (at least 75% student talk to 25% instructor) and a lot of my current students are University age and higher. It's always a 1 teacher operation so I have full control of the pace. As for asking the other instructor, they're on vacation in America for about a week so I don't have the chance to ask them yet.

Sorry if this is really vague. I like to anticipate situations and questions, and it struck me today that I'm not entirely sure what I'd do with a really low level/beginner student.

Ebi
October 29th, 2015, 20:31
Ah, well I think the odds to getting a truly "never studied English in my life" student are pretty low unless they're very young or very old. Japan requires students to study English from JHS to HS, with most places also introducing basics in late elementary school, so even if they never paid attention and avoided participation every step of the way, they should at least have some vague understanding of what English sounds like and looks like. Most universities and high schools have English tests as part of their requirements, so ostensibly university students should all be reasonably proficient.

That said, English education can be a crap-shoot since the teachers themselves usually aren't proficient, virtually all exams are multiple-choice with no speaking requirement, and students are rarely forced to use English to communicate. So it's very possible you'll get a student who won't/can't speak any English at all.

Since your lessons are focused on student output, then I agree with Webstaa that starting with the basics (self-intro, greetings, "I like ~.", etc.) would be a good place to start.

Torinn88
November 1st, 2015, 09:34
...Since your lessons are focused on student output, then I agree with Webstaa that starting with the basics (self-intro, greetings, "I like ~.", etc.) would be a good place to start.


Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to experiment with a few lesson ideas around those ideas.