As conversation is an important part of learning a foreign language so students need to be able to speak without being afraid to make mistakes. The teacher’s job is to help the student to gain confidence, and thereby accuracy, in what they say. The other vital half of the conversation equation is for the student to gain accurate listening skills. The teacher must be able to help with this and to re-assure the student along their learning journey.
Until fairly recently I lived in Europe (over 15 years) and apart from having to learn foreign languages myself, I have also taught English over the telephone and on a one-to-one basis. I qualified with a TEFL certificate but previously I was a teacher and trainer in the UK specializing in Business and IT. I have a Masters degree in Business Analysis but my original Teaching qualification was for secondary level sciences. Mostly my students were French from a variety of organisations, and ranged in language skills from total beginner to advanced level. I also had students from Brazil who wanted to improve their English skills in order to pass exams for emigration purposes.
With a new student I would encourage us to exchange a little information about ourselves – family, likes and dislikes – as an ‘ice breaker’ in order to make an initial assessment of the student’s ability and confidence. Feedback is essential, and depending on the student’s expectations and wishes, I aim to make notes during the conversation and write them down for the student in the Skype chat window. If the student prefers instant correction, that can also be done in the Skype chat window.
I am prepared to talk about most conversation topics but am not keen on Politics or Religion. My favourite topics are film, travel, arts and crafts, medical and scientific innovations and many more.
All aspects of learning a language are important but in my experience most students are interested in improving their vocabulary and pronunciation. I would definitely like to include listening as there is little point asking a question if you cannot understand the reply.
Having spent many years in different European countries I had to learn a few languages – Dutch, French and Spanish. Europe is so diverse in culture, weather and cuisine the journey has been spectacular. I loved the foods of Spain especially picking fresh oranges from a tree instead of going to a supermarket but disliked the Spanish values on animal welfare. In northern Belgium people seemed constrained by order and rules but in the southern half they were more relaxed. I am hoping to travel further afield and am drawn to Uruguay, the Great Wall of China and India. On a personal level. I love film, especially period dramas, adventure and science fiction and I paint in a variety of media but mostly pastel and watercolor.
My 3 tips for learning English fast are: