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Detailed Description and logic behind my teaching system

My personalised teaching system is designed to address the following problems:

Problem 1: Many executives and office workers have studied English extensively and they may have a good knowledge of grammar - but they still have problems when they need to converse fluently with other speakers. Frequently their lack of fluency embarrasses then and makes them even less fluent.

Problem 2: Non-native speakers make repeated simple errors when they have to speak in English. Frequently - as the person they are speaking to is able to understand what is being said - they are not even aware that they are making such errors, even though it is obviously incorrectly phrased.

Problem 3: Classes in Spanish schools frequently do not give students the opportunity to talk at length in English.  This results in students who are both unable to communicate in English and who suffer from extreme embarrassment when they need to do so.

Procedure

My one-to one classes are designed to address all these problems. A class is typically carried out as follows.

01The student and I talk about some subject of interest. For example a company project, a recent news story from an English newspaper, a question of general interest, a recording from the BBC.

02During the conversation I make notes in three columns on my portable PC. In the first column I identify errors, slips of grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary. The second column is blank and the third column is used to note good structures or to remark on problems which the student has overcome since the beginning of the course.

03After about twenty or thirty minutes we talk about the notes. We first talk about the positive aspects in the right hand column.
There are two reasons for this:

  • A class which consists only of telling the student what they have done wrong is not very motivating.
  • It enables the student to see that problems are being overcome.

04Then we consider the first column and we work together to identify and correct the problems one by one. When the correct word or expression has been agreed I add the corrected form, word, pronunciation, phrase or whatever to the second column and the process is repeated until we have covered all the issues. Identifying and correcting the problem is a collaborative process. We then return to the conversation and the process is repeated.
At the end of the class the student is given (or emailed) a copy of the class notes for subsequent study and revision.

Results

How this helps fluency:  Because I make notes on my CP the student’s conversational “flow” is not constantly interrupted with corrections or suggestions.  This means that the student learns to simply speak fluently without interruption in the knowledge that any problems will be addressed later.

My manner is completely non-judgemental. I am there because the student needs my help to improve their language skills. Making mistakes is an important part of the learning process.

How this helps accuracy: many students tend to have their own set of personal mistakes which they regularly repeat. If they have been making the same mistake for years it is highly unlikely that they will change their behaviour if it is only pointed out once.

Frequently these mistakes do not prevent the student from being understood – but they have the effect of making the student sound less able and convincing in English.  In some cases the student is not even aware of the problem and it is quite common for students to something like:  “Did I really say that?”

Regular, personalised English classes eliminate these sorts of errors.