Teaching basics for Homelingua teachers

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Here are some teaching basics for tutoring English in your home. Some are so obvious you might forget!

Daily revision/warm up
To give yourself an idea of how much your student is taking in and to warm up their ‘language muscles’, you can give them 15 minutes of revision at the start of your teaching day. Examples of what you can do: Read on...

  • elicit five recently learnt (or re-learnt) items of vocabulary
  • ask your student for a summary of yesterday’s TV news or programmes you watched together etc
  • ask for a description of yesterday’s activities or meals

Record your lesson on tape/a digital device
This is a highly recommended activity for all teachers. Record say 20 to 30 minutes of a lesson where there is a lot of interaction with your student. In non-lesson time, listen to your recording and consider the following:

What is the balance of your talking time and the student’s taking time. If you are speaking a lot, think about how you can reduce this to achieve a balance of roughly 30% teacher talking time, 70% student talking time.

  • Are your instructions clear?
  • What went well?
  • What could be improved and done differently?

Positive feedback
Staying with family in a different country can be quite daunting for some so generating a warm and positive atmosphere is vital to successful home tuition. It is easy, while in the middle of teaching, to focus on your next teaching activity or the major mistakes the student is making. However, giving your students praise and encouragement during and outside lessons is just as important. Examples of what you can praise:

  • improved pronunciation
  • use of new vocabulary
  • increased cultural awareness
  • greater fluency
  • use of new or more difficult structures
  • big efforts

How to give positive feedback:

  • Thumbs up
  • Nodding
  • Verbally at the end of a teaching session
  • A short note to the student

Be patient
Give your students enough time to reply to your questions. If you have a ‘quiet’ student, try counting to six silently. Expect your students to make mistakes and to take time to digest new language. Not all mistakes need to be corrected but when you decide to pick up on something, give your students the opportunity and time to correct themselves before doing so yourself.

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