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This is not going to happen today or tomorrow, but someday in the future, in order to save driving time, I might occasionally set up an experimental ESL lesson over the web. I used to Skype with friends, but I found out how dangerous that can be to my computer system, since Skype does not have its own network of servers to use. Because they do not, I found out, Skype uses computers of its members to carry the program, leaving me vulnerable for hacking AND, even more importantly, slowing my system down during Skype's busiest times. Google, however, has the same VOIP, with their own servers, that will leave my system free for ME to use. I will download their program that is also free and ask that my target student do the same. Then with the same materials in front of us both, I can have a face-to-face training with a student from the comfort of my own home office and I will not be using gas and time for the commute. Sounds ideal, doesn't it? I can envision some problems,... read more

When I start to work with students, I want to learn who they are, find out what they (and their parents) want to achieve and create a trust between us. This process shouldn't take longer than one to three sessions. Then it's time to talk about their goals. I suggest age-appropriate targets, such as, for children in 3rd to 5th grade something like: "response from school teacher is that progress has been made, reflected in grades and homework feedback." For the older students, they seem to be able to tell when they're doing better by feeling more confident about their work, speaking out in class, being able to edit their own writing, etc. But this needs to be stated up front so that they can measure their own progress. Preschool students don't worry about that, but I council parents about what I would like to accomplish before they enter kindergarten -- that they can recognize and write all letters in uppercase and lowercase block print, spell and write their own... read more

Most of my students are in elementary school. It seems that they all start out finding it difficult to focus on the task at hand. This is cross-cultural as I have some Asian American children and a British family and I worked with an Indian student for a while. I am concerned (what's new here?) with the lack of attention-span that seems to reflect and be a consequence of playing games and watching television. When kids are "working" on something they love, like perfecting a slap shot or discussing their pets, focus can tune out everything else, but it's hard to get kids to love writing. When it's new, maybe, like the preschooler who is warming up to writing on the white board, each letter of his name a different color. That takes concentration. But why do they think that writing is "so boring?" Maybe they just haven't yet been bitten by the bug. Okay, so I'm taking the short attention span, and whatever their favorite subject is (a sport, a pet,... read more

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