Advice for Tutoring Six-Year-Old (Modern Languages).

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Advice for Tutoring Six-Year-Old (Modern Languages).

Postby RichDam on Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:05 pm

Hello Everyone,

I have been tutoring a six-year-old boy in Russian and French, during the same evening, for around six months. I would be grateful for any advice.

Firstly, the arrangement: the boy and his mother come from Kirgistan and have been living in the UK for approximately three years. His main language of communication is English and his mother became concerned that he was losing his fluency in speaking Russian. The first time we met she discovered that I already tutor French and she requested that I tutor him in French as well. So, I see him one evening a week - 45 minutes for a Russian lesson (usually with a 5 minute break after 20 minutes) followed by 45 minutes of French, also with a break. His mother is reluctant to devote two evenings a week to his lessons, as he is quite busy with other activities on other evenings. This does seem to be a significant demand on a child of six after a full day in school.

Generally, he is bright, well-motivated and often well-behaved. However, he is also very lively and, often, wilful. I think that part of the problem is that I was not sufficiently firm at the beginning. He often picks things up and fiddles with them; he also often asks irrelevant questions. Much of this is very typical behaviour for a child of his age. I have recently become firmer with him. I have often insisted that he stop fiddling (although one friend suggested that I ignore this behaviour up to a point, as there is a risk that the more I pick up on it, the more he will want to continue to provoke a reaction). I have also begun to suggest "speaking to your mummy", which usually seems to be effective.

In terms of activities, I have been using flashcards for new vocabulary; producing written records of phrases, including "Now I can..." statements in English, such as "Now I can talk about the people in my family in Russian.". I have developed a routine of reading exercises: linking pictures to phrases; a true or false task (does the picture match the phrase?); gap-fill exercises where the student writes the missing letters in the gaps; jumbled words, so the task is to unjumble the letters and sometimes a letter from a "pen friend", where the task is to write a response, allowing for writing with a bit more flexibility. I have also produced various games such as pelmanism (playing pairs with two sets of cards) and noughts and crosses. When playing these games it is understood that the phrase (which may be written in either English or the target language) must be read aloud. When the phrase is in the target language, I occasionally challenge him to tell me what the phrase means.

His mother is very businesslike; initially, she was concerned that lesson content focussed on individual words and not phrases more applicable to everyday life. More recently, she has asked me about the topics covered and asked whether he would remember the vocabulary. She complained recently that he is not speaking enough, and that I should encourage him to speak naturally more than I have been. However, I only see him once a week, so my influence is limited.

One teacher friend has suggested that I make the tasks more personal: for example, if the topic is places in the town, then he can design his own plan of a town and decide where, for example, the supermarket and the train station might be located.

I am seeing him one more time next week. Then we will have a break over the summer holidays until early September.

I would be grateful for any opinions or advice, particularly from anybody with experience in teaching foreign languages to a child of a similar age.

Thank you very much.

Best wishes.

Rich Damerell.
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Advice for Tutoring Six-Year-Old (Modern Languages).

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Re: Advice for Tutoring Six-Year-Old (Modern Languages).

Postby LisaMc on Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:08 pm

You should try Cram.com. You can create flashcards online and can also add pronunciation to the cards. I think it is a great tool to learn languages.
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