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Help with a shy one-to-one student

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Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Noem » Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:47 pm

Hi there! I'm an ESL teacher although I haven't been teaching for long, and I'd appreciate any help you could give me for this situation:
I have a super shy one-to-one student, she's around 15, I've been teaching her for 2 years and she's still super shy with me. When it comes to speak in English, she whispers. I've tried many different activities but I think I'm doing something wrong. Her mum wants her to practise her writing, and we've been doing writing activities which are not a great fun, and which don't help her shyness.
Please, any ideas you have regarding types of activities or tips, would be appreciated ;)
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Septembergirl » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:51 pm

Hi Noem! I really understand you as our shy students are the most complicated to deal with. I think you could try changing the pattern. I mean, it is great to teach her writing, but maybe the problem is that the topics don't appeal to her interests. For example, if you figure out what she likes and dislikes she is more likely to be interested. For instance, one day you could discuss music or films.why not make her listen to a song she likes or watch a scene from a film, that could create some topics for discussion. You could also teach her new vocabulary in form of games, mix serious things with some fun so when it comes to writing actually she has some ideas and doesn't get lost not knowing what to say. Also you say it's her mother who wants this kind of things, could be another reason why the girl behaves this way.
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Noem » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:39 am

Thanks for your answer! I bring songs she likes very often, we saw a scene once as well, but she just doesn't talk. If I want to know her favorite film I have to make her write it on a paper for homework, 'cause she wouldn't dare to say it (I should've said 'extremely shy'). We've done some vocabulary games as well, but I get the same response as with anything else. Has anyone been in this kind of situation before?
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Syl » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:00 am

Yes, dear Noem! I teach at home many students on a one-to-one basis, and have been doing it for years. All sorts of personalities have been under my orientation and the shy ones represent a very delicate category of pupils. You need to deal with them very carefully, otherwise they will lose their courage to speak English at all. One never knows the reason of this behavior, if she studies in a regular English class too, and someone criticized her in front of the others in the past, that was enough to cause the fear of talking.

One of the things I do is already reported here on this forum. Before recording myself with easy sentences that are easy to be repeated, I take a ready dialogue, for example, or a joke, whatever, and ask the pupil to repeat after me. She will whisper and it is OK. With time she will catch self-confidence and will raise her voice. The writing activities are important, and even if you use interesting topics, they don't help her in her talking and don't make her have enough courage to speak. Tell me something, do you ask her to read texts or dialogues, or even songs out loud? And if you do, how does she do it? This is also a technique that can develop her oral skills, and with time the passage from reading to talking will take place naturally.

I hope this helps. :)

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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Noem » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:30 pm

Yes, very often I ask her to read texts out loud, and she whispers the same she did 2 years ago...
I don't think it's a matter of English speaking, since when I have spoken Spanish with her it was exactly the same, but I don't really know how she is outside my class. And even whispering she has a good pronunciation, so I doubt this is the case, but you could be right, I don't know for sure... I've run out of ideas! :(
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Syl » Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:11 pm

Then, why don't you ask someone at school? ( Probably you could get the phone number from her Mom or through the girl herself). I mean, probably she has some problem that you don't know which is the reason for her whispering, something beyond your control. If she is so shy, or so insecure, it's not an English learning problem, but something related to her personality and this, my friend, is something not meant for you to deal with!

Another question I have, when she whispers, does she speak correctly? Do you notice if she is learning the same? Because if the answer is "yes", then here your role as a teacher is being fulfilled. If she doesn't learn, then a serious talk with her Mom is needed.


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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Noem » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:21 pm

I think she learns, she's not a bad student. I guess I'll just keep doing the same activities then, even if the class feels boring because I get no reaction form her. Her writing's not improving a lot though, do you know any good writing activities I could do with her? Perhaps I should've started with that! haha.
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Syl » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:58 pm

:lol:

That's good news, if she learns then the only point is her way of talking to you which gives you the impression the lesson is boring. But I must say that it is not, otherwise she wouldn't learn at all! She is shy, that's all.

Regarding the writing, there are so many things to do!
I use guided composition with tables that I prepare, for example: describing a picture. The table contains the main elements of the sentences (There is, There are, etc), and the pupil extracts as many sentences as possible from the table. Then she should write some sentences on her own, with another picture. You can brainstorm with her some words that she knows, and teach her new vocabulary with flashcards, regarding things in the picture unknown to her.

You can take an image of "find the differences" in the internet, and ask her to write them. She may use the present progressive, and other patterns.

Teach her the P.O.S. (Parts of Speech) and give her sentences that you wrote, asking her to classify the words, learning word order in a sentence. Have her write her own after that, based on pictures or a text she read.

I often tell jokes to my students, short ones, easy to understand. Then I ask them to write some; riddles are also very good, they love it!

Don't forget to teach her the three main parts of a composition: Opening, Body and Closure. She may write a simple letter to a friend, for instance. If she is not able to write on her own, give her a ready template, I mean, a ready letter with blanks; after filling in, she should rewrite without copying. Do it as many times as needed until she succeeds writing her own.

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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Noem » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:31 pm

Thank you so much, I'll try those!! ;)
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Re: Help with a shy one-to-one student

Unread postby Syl » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:52 am

Oh, I am glad I could help.

Let me know how it goes. If you need any more help, don't hesitate and I can try and help you with more ideas.

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