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any special techniques or advice on how to tutor students ESL

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5 Answers

Nancy, I have tutored a number of English language learners, both children and adults. I usually structure my one-hour lessons in thirds. The first third is devoted to reading. I use texts the students can read for pleasure, if possible. Of course, if the student needs to read certain material as a part off his/ her coursework, I use that text. I usually take turns reading with the student by pages or paragraphs, depending on the student's reading endurance. We pause frequently to discuss vocabulary and check for comprehension. I find asking the student to tell me in his/her own words the content of that page or paragraph is very effective. The second third of the lesson is devoted to grammar and writing activities. I especially like tandem writing where one of us writes the first sentence of a story, and the other writes the second sentence. We alternate sentences and see where the story takes us! It is easy and non-threatening to edit and correct one sentence at a time by erasing and making the correction--NO red pens! The last third of the lesson is always a game. Even my adult students relish this part of the lesson. You can use purchased language games or games you develop that are skill-specific. Getting the students up and moving during the game is also a good thing. Last, encourage, praise, and enjoy! You can't be too lavish in your praise, and making tutoring enjoyable helps increase the student's comfort level and desire to learn.

Tutoring is quite a bit different than having a classroom full of students.  I think it is essential to find out what the student desires to learn and why.  Then, plan activities that cater to the student's needs.  Vocabulary building is very important, and one can still use games and picture activities even with one student.  In addition, a teacher can use internet resources for listening and speaking practice on pertinent topics for everyday life.  Another fun topic is idioms if the student's proficiency level is at least intermediate level.  These types of activities will keep the student interested, make the learning relevant, and keep it personal all at the same time.
Hi Nancy,
I think you have been given some great advice here.  As with teaching anything, I think it is essential to determine the student's current ability level and determine what the end goal should be.  There are so many
parts of English that a person can learn in order to become fluent but I think that in order to maximize efficiency,  the learning tasks must be prioritized.  If it is speaking due to a current job need, then focus on speaking.  What is most hindering the student's speaking abilities?  Target that first and so on.  Hope this helps.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like. I am also a tutor here on Wyzant.
Thanks,
Jacqueline

Teaching ESL is the best job ever!  

Since ESL students are trying to take in a lot at the same time, structure helps them acquire the new language easier.

Take into account the age of your student when choosing your curriculum.  For middle school and high school there are innumerable sources with simple vocabulary but high interest.

There are materials designed for college students too; some deal with grammar and some with pronunciation.

Plan ahead, fill in gaps, and try to anticipate what the student teacher's direction is in order to prepare the student for material to be taught.

 

ESL tutoring is challenging.  The object of ESL is to teach English without referencing the students native tongue. For beginning students I recommend using the same books you would use to teach pre-school students.  These books make reading intuitive.   

Comments

The student is already in college and having problems with a particular subject.  I probably need to find out where he is having the problem?  Is it translation of words or retention of information?  What are your thoughts about this and thank you

This is a more complex issue.  The issue could be a lack of understanding of the subject or a lack a fluency.  If I knew more about the specific problem I might be able to help.  Would you say that the student is fluent in English?

Using preschool materials (or early grade school) can be fun and useful.  Just be careful that you don't insult an older student who may be sensitive to using "little kid" materials.  I might explain my use of such by saying "It might seem silly, but I have these materials and think they might be useful.  What do you think?"
 
I always find that students smile or laugh, but agree to use them.  Then we laugh together as we use them!  If a student felt foolish using preschool material, then I would choose another way to present the material.

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