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tips for helping someone learn english?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was asked to help teach someone english for a few hours a week. This person is already taking classes but I don't think they're very effective because there isn't nearly enough speaking involved and despite months of classroom classes there's still little progress in that regard. Any advice? I've never taught ESL or anything and was hoping someone might direct me to some books to get started, both for me and the student.

I don't really know where to start and don't have time to spend devising lesson plans, so something pre-packaged that follows a logical progression would be very useful.

thanks
post #2 of 14
Conversation practice. What did you do today? Tell me about your country. If they can't do that you should decline because you 're not a teacher.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by texas_jack View Post

Conversation practice. What did you do today? Tell me about your country. If they can't do that you should decline because you 're not a teacher.

This is unpaid help so there's no ethical issue of selling a service for which I have no training, if that's what you're getting at. Or are you trying to say that since i'm not a teacher I could do more harm than good?
post #4 of 14
I doubt exposure to much of any native speaker who has even passable grammar and syntax would be doing more harm than good, especially for the beginning speaker. Exposure and feedback, you're helping them a lot by offering to help.

Speaking is usually one of the hardest and final parts of language learning to come together for those taught formally, because it requires creation of phrases words and immersion with consistent feedback. How many written tests, readings, and monologues in traditional classrooms are structured this way.

Since you're the native speaker, I would just start speaking. You should be able to pickup on their level of speaking and adjust yourself to it. When you talk be mindful of what you say to aid in listening. Try talking at just a pace faster than they are speaking. It can be easy to slip into "normal" conversation patterns you'd have with those you spend time with which are fluent. Try to keep from doing this best you can.

Try to have guided topics to discuss to help introduce new words and phrases related to that subject. Hell, role play some common day-to-day life event they may struggle.

Another suggestion, for "sticking points" in the conversation, maybe have a laptop or tablet that can translate key words and phrases they might want to say in their native language, but can't express since they forget or are unsure of the translation. Then you can help them work through what they want to say with questions and feedback.

Lastly, I'd suggest patience on your end with repetition of phases/ sentences. On the other side of the coin let the speaker who's trying to learn not feel any shame in stopping to ask for your to repeat or explain. If they're shy about doing this you may assume they understand more than they actually do. Put the speaker at ease with your ability to be patient and helpful.
post #5 of 14
Oh, I'm no formal teacher. It's just what I've found helpful trying to learn and just general reasoning.

Maybe some seasoned ESL pros here can school me. teacha.gif
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQgeek View Post

This is unpaid help so there's no ethical issue of selling a service for which I have no training, if that's what you're getting at. Or are you trying to say that since i'm not a teacher I could do more harm than good?

I mean that I don't think you will be able to help them much with the very basic parts.
post #7 of 14
Have the person watch television they can understand (for low-level speakers, animated shows and documentaries generally work best because they tend to speak the slowest). If they can't understand the general meaning of phrases in these shows won't help.

Reading the newspaper helps with vocabulary, idioms and if they've formally studied or otherwise understand the grammar it will help with general sentence structure.

What is your student's native language?
post #8 of 14
My father knew a French Canadian who learned English by watching hockey on CBC. He obviously knew what was happening, and picked up some of the words to fit.

One other possibility is using DVDs of films that your friend knows, putting in the English dubbing instead of the original dialogue.
post #9 of 14
You're right, classroom language instruction rarely gives enough of a chance for a student to speak, unless they are wealthy and it's almost one to one. There's no best or right or wrong way to learn a language, since the crossover from different languages is different most times, and their needs will be different. They probably have a steady basis in English from what they've learned in life already... but what you'd need to do and be conscious of is to speak pretty slowly and clearly, and speak in a slightly more formal tone than you're used to, use articles like 'a, the' etc clearly and properly, avoid slang or take the time to explain it if need be. Avoid colloquialisms for awhile, those and slang are merely fancy tricks once the learner has gotten going already.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQgeek View Post

I was asked to help teach someone english for a few hours a week. This person is already taking classes but I don't think they're very effective because there isn't nearly enough speaking involved and despite months of classroom classes there's still little progress in that regard. Any advice? I've never taught ESL or anything and was hoping someone might direct me to some books to get started, both for me and the student.
I don't really know where to start and don't have time to spend devising lesson plans, so something pre-packaged that follows a logical progression would be very useful.
thanks

I think the most important thing is to help them realise that making mistakes is natural and that there is no shame in using something in the wrong context or mispronouncing a word, because they're learning. Helping my overseas friends speak English (and vice versa with Japanese and Mandarin) is just getting them used to mimicking what I say back to them, explaining the meaning of the phrase, any new words and helping them with the context in which they would use it.
post #11 of 14

Very nice discussion is going on here.I am also one among the English learners.To learn English i daily watch news,i read newspaper,i am going through video conversations http://www.youtube.com/user/twominenglish I still love to here some tips from you.

post #12 of 14
A major problem I've encountered in assisting people with English, is that many of them have a body of friends and family that speak their language. There is also media such as TV or newspapers in their home language. These people may spend an hour learning English and then spend 48 hours immersed in their native tongue which of course they feel comfortable with. If someone can be persuaded to simply read and speak English only for a period of a week or so, their confidence level and ability will soar. On the other hand to the extent they retreat into a self-imposed ghetto, learning English becomes very difficult. Very often a person will know all hundred or so words of English which is enough to function with but are embarrassed because they feel their English isn't what do they think it should be. So my advice is to get the person to make a deal that for whatever time they will only speak English. If a friend or relative begins a conversation in the native tongue, they should say: Sorry I only speak English" No Jade World TV during this time.period. This can be very difficult for some people for a few days but after that it's a breeze.
post #13 of 14

Watching movies in English worked the best for me.

post #14 of 14
I do this all the time. Start simple with items and tasks you use at work. Repeat it with them until they are sick of you. If you don't know a little of their native language this can really be frustrating.
Next start asking simple questions. For me it's, "is this clean, is this ready, is it time for lunch?"
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