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  1. #1
    JillinJapan is offline Newbie
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    Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Hello,
    My name is Jill and I am an ESL teacher in Yokohama, Japan. I teach 14 adults and 3 children (all separately except the kids). The 3 children I teach are ages 9, 10 and 11. I'm very concerned about their lessons, I feel that they are not learning and my lessons are mostly review for them. They have no conversational skills and cannot form any sentences other than "hello, my name is ___, nice to meet you". When I ask them questions and try to have conversation they just look at me. Their mother comes with them, but she knows far less English than the children, so she isn't much help. I quickly discovered that they love to play games and compete with each other, so in every lesson we play games reviewing words. I just don't know what else to do with them. I have never taught students at this level. In one of my first lessons I tried conversation and it was very confusing for them, I panicked and moved on to another review game. Another challenge for me is that the youngest child is at a lower level than the other two.
    I have been teaching them now twice a month for 3 months and I'm starting to wonder if I am the right teacher for them. I've grown very fond of them and I look forward to our lessons, but after each one I feel sad knowing that we just played games and did word review. I see very little progression in their lessons and it makes me feel like a failure as a teacher. I could really use some help and ideas for conversation and sentence forming. I just don't know what to do anymore, I've searched the internet for hours looking for beginner conversation, but everything I find I feel is too advanced for them.
    I've asked their mother how she feels about the lessons and if she is happy with my teaching, in her extremely limited English she's enthusiastically told me the lessons are fine and the kids are happy. However, most Japanese people never complain when they are unhappy. They are also very loyal to their teachers and will not give up on someone even if they are displeased. So I only have my feelings to go on... I am very serious about my teaching, so my feelings of discontent drive my crazy! Any advice and ideas would be very much appreciated.

  2. #2
    tzfujimino's Avatar
    tzfujimino is offline Key Member
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Quote Originally Posted by JillinJapan View Post
    Hello,
    My name is Jill and I am an ESL teacher in Yokohama, Japan. I teach 14 adults and 3 children (all separately except the kids). The 3 children I teach are ages 9, 10 and 11. I'm very concerned about their lessons, I feel that they are not learning and my lessons are mostly review for them. They have no conversational skills and cannot form any sentences other than "hello, my name is ___, nice to meet you". When I ask them questions and try to have conversation they just look at me. Their mother comes with them, but she knows far less English than the children, so she isn't much help. I quickly discovered that they love to play games and compete with each other, so in every lesson we play games reviewing words. I just don't know what else to do with them. I have never taught students at this level. In one of my first lessons I tried conversation and it was very confusing for them, I panicked and moved on to another review game. Another challenge for me is that the youngest child is at a lower level than the other two.
    I have been teaching them now twice a month for 3 months and I'm starting to wonder if I am the right teacher for them. I've grown very fond of them and I look forward to our lessons, but after each one I feel sad knowing that we just played games and did word review. I see very little progression in their lessons and it makes me feel like a failure as a teacher. I could really use some help and ideas for conversation and sentence forming. I just don't know what to do anymore, I've searched the internet for hours looking for beginner conversation, but everything I find I feel is too advanced for them.
    I've asked their mother how she feels about the lessons and if she is happy with my teaching, in her extremely limited English she's enthusiastically told me the lessons are fine and the kids are happy. However, most Japanese people never complain when they are unhappy. They are also very loyal to their teachers and will not give up on someone even if they are displeased. So I only have my feelings to go on... I am very serious about my teaching, so my feelings of discontent drive my crazy! Any advice and ideas would be very much appreciated.
    Hello, JillinJapan.
    First of all, I'm really glad we have a diligent teacher like you.
    I'd like to thank you, as a Japanese citizen, for your sincerity.

    Please allow me to introduce myself.
    I'm an English teacher at a 'cramming school' called 'juku,' and I've been teaching students (mainly) aged 7 to 16. And...I know how hard it is to teach English to little kids, especially when they are beginners.

    It's virtually impossible to expect them(your little kids) to produce grammatical English sentences as they've never learned English grammar, and it would be extremely hard(almost impossible) for you to teach them English grammar as they hardly understand your words. They are not learning English in the natural environment (where it is spoken/used in everyday lives).

    So...all you can do right now is...
    1. playing games
    2. repeating the same sentence patterns and reviewing them
    eg. 'How are you, ....? - I'm fine, thank you. And you?'
    'How's the weather today? - It's cloudy(sunny, fine, rainy, stormy..).'
    'What time is it now? - It's ten past eight.' etc....

    I think...you'll need some assistance from your Japanese colleagues.
    I suggest you use some Japanese in your class. (Well...you don't have to actually speak Japanese.)
    Let me try to give you an example.

    First, you prepare an 'English sheet' like this.

    Introduce yourself! ( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    Hello, my name is........................( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    I live in ............................( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    I go to .....................elementary school.( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    My homeroom teacher is Mr./Ms........( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    I love/hate him/her very much.( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    I like tennis/soccer/volleyball/video games...( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )
    Thank you.( JAPANESE TRANSLATION )

    Second, you ask your Japanese colleagues
    1.to translate English into Japanese and write it in the brackets.
    2.to write 'katakana' below each English word (to show how to pronounce it...Well...'katakana' does not show correct English pronunciation, but...it's helpful. It's your job to correct their pronunciation.)

    Third, you photocopy the sheet and give it to your kids for homework.
    You could probably say... 'Next week we're going to use this sheet. I'd like each of you to introduce yourself in English with the sheet. Please fill in the blanks and prepare for the self-introduction next week....etc'

    Your kids will try to get more involved in your class as there's something they can understand there - Japanese. Naturally their parents will be much happier.(Well, don't worry too much. They ARE happy now. I think they know you've been trying hard.)

    Please try this if you're interested.
    Good luck!
    And I'm really sorry for my poor English.
    Last edited by tzfujimino; 31-Jan-2009 at 19:37.

  3. #3
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    I am not a teacher, however, I have an idea.

    Lately I have seen some advertisement here in Canada that some ESL classes are including some television shows in their curriculum. These are adult students who are interested in learning the modern language that young people would use, rather than just grammar.

    Could you possibly include a few segments of Sesame Street in your lessons for the children? I am sure that they are available on DVD, and quite possibly have even been shown in Japan. It would make some of the lessons fun, and I think they have always been informative for children.

    Best of luck. I am in the B&B business, and I must say that our Japanese guests have always been delightful.
    Last edited by Searching for language; 05-Feb-2009 at 21:22.

  4. #4
    JillinJapan is offline Newbie
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Thank you both very much! I truly appreciate your advice.

    tzfujimino- Your advice was incredibly helpful, you really helped me to understand how I can teach them better and explained why I am having a difficult time. I didn't fully understand the exact reasons why conversation was so difficult, and your post has inspired me again. Your idea for translating and getting help from my Japanese colleagues is excellent. I've already started working on a plan for my next lesson and I'm feeling great about it. I'm also excited about your idea of giving them sheets to learn in advance, I'm sure their mother will be very pleased and they will be prepared for our lesson. Thank you so much for giving me hope again! (By the way, I think your English is very good!)
    I love everything about Japan and I am so happy to be here. Japanese people are the most wonderful and kind hearted people, I am honored to be a guest in your country.

    Searching For Language- Thank you for your input. I like the idea of using Sesame Street. I haven't used any television programs in our lessons, but it could help with pronouciation if I can find the right episodes. That could be fun. Good idea!

  5. #5
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    I'm glad that you think it might help. I was going to suggest some books also, but the older children might think they are too childish for them. My children (now past 40!) all learned to read before they were going to school by using the Richard Scarry children's books. "My best Word Book Ever" was in shreds by the time my youngest of three started school.

    The illustrations in the book are amazing and fun. There is also a dictionary with illustrations.

  6. #6
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    tzfujimino is offline Key Member
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Quote Originally Posted by JillinJapan View Post
    Thank you both very much! I truly appreciate your advice.

    tzfujimino- Your advice was incredibly helpful, you really helped me to understand how I can teach them better and explained why I am having a difficult time. I didn't fully understand the exact reasons why conversation was so difficult, and your post has inspired me again. Your idea for translating and getting help from my Japanese colleagues is excellent. I've already started working on a plan for my next lesson and I'm feeling great about it. I'm also excited about your idea of giving them sheets to learn in advance, I'm sure their mother will be very pleased and they will be prepared for our lesson. Thank you so much for giving me hope again! (By the way, I think your English is very good!)
    I love everything about Japan and I am so happy to be here. Japanese people are the most wonderful and kind hearted people, I am honored to be a guest in your country.

    Searching For Language- Thank you for your input. I like the idea of using Sesame Street. I haven't used any television programs in our lessons, but it could help with pronouciation if I can find the right episodes. That could be fun. Good idea!
    I'm glad I've been of some help to you.
    Good luck and...please do let me know how you're doing in class later on.

  7. #7
    warda123 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Please check out my post. I really need some help. it is called: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children. Thank You!

  8. #8
    JillinJapan is offline Newbie
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Update-
    My lesson with the kids this week went excellent!! Thank you all so much for your advice and thoughts, you helped me very much. The kids responded well to the Japanese translations of the conversation we practiced and were very enthusiastic. The lesson was very different; their father was not allowed to escort them onto the military base I live on because he had forgotten the correct identification, so my lesson with the kids was unsupervised! They were thrilled to be alone, and being the responsible adult they were forced to listen to me instead of looking to their parents when they couldn't understand my questions. It forced them to concentrate harder and put a lot more effort into listening. I hadn't realized what a distraction the parents can be, it was an eye-opener. I also feel like it changed our relationship a little, they had to view me differently for an hour and I think it created more trust in our relationship. It also changed me and made me realize that I too, rely on the parents at times in the lesson, I expect that the parent will explain what I need. I also had to take control of the lesson, there was no buffer. It was a really healthy lesson for us and I feel so much more confident. I've already planned our next lesson, our lessons are bi-weekly and I usually wait until the last day or two to plan it out because I'm so nervous, but this time I'm not nervous at all, I'm excited! Thank you very much for your encouragement and support!

  9. #9
    tzfujimino's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    Quote Originally Posted by JillinJapan View Post
    Update-
    My lesson with the kids this week went excellent!! Thank you all so much for your advice and thoughts, you helped me very much. The kids responded well to the Japanese translations of the conversation we practiced and were very enthusiastic. The lesson was very different; their father was not allowed to escort them onto the military base I live on because he had forgotten the correct identification, so my lesson with the kids was unsupervised! They were thrilled to be alone, and being the responsible adult they were forced to listen to me instead of looking to their parents when they couldn't understand my questions. It forced them to concentrate harder and put a lot more effort into listening. I hadn't realized what a distraction the parents can be, Yes, I quite agree.it was an eye-opener. I also feel like it changed our relationship a little, they had to view me differently for an hour and I think it created more trust in our relationship. It also changed me and made me realize that I too, rely on the parents at times in the lesson, I expect that the parent will explain what I need. I also had to take control of the lesson, there was no buffer. It was a really healthy lesson for us and I feel so much more confident. I've already planned our next lesson, our lessons are bi-weekly and I usually wait until the last day or two to plan it out because I'm so nervous, but this time I'm not nervous at all, I'm excited! Thank you very much for your encouragement and support!
    I couldn't be happier!
    I'm so relieved to hear you've been doing all right.
    Your diligence and perseverance will pay off.
    Please keep up the good work.

  10. #10
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Need advice teaching 3 beginner children

    I am also thrilled to read that your lesson has gone so well. Keep up the good work. I know that being passionate about what you are doing is the key ingredient in success.

    I am amazed at how much help and co-operation is found on this website. A friend told me about it, and although I have learned English as a child when we emmigrated from Germany, there is still sooooooo much that I don't know and I am learning here, still, every day.

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