Building confidence in a shy pre-teen

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teachinator
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Building confidence in a shy pre-teen

Unread post by teachinator » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:05 am

I have a tutoring student who is a 12-year-old Chinese girl in sixth grade in a US middle school. She is sweet and willing to work, loves to read, and will engage with me in whatever I assign her. Her vocabulary is not bad and she is working on her grammar. She can communicate quite effectively verbally, with minor mistakes. However, she is very soft-spoken and seems a little bit socially isolated. She has a few friends but her parents are very protective and control her social life. She told me that even in China she doesn't have many friends and is very quiet in social situations.

I think the main thing I'd like to do for her is build up her confidence and frankly, get her to speak louder and speak up more. She is more than capable; she is just either shy or very reserved, and it's having an effect on her success in school. She likes to sing and will sing around me and her mother, but I doubt she'll do it in school.

I had the idea of having her recite tongue twisters at first and then simple poetry, and she did that with enthusiasm. She likes to show what she can do. But what next? Robert Frost and (especially) Edgar Allan Poe were too complex for her. Robert Louis Stevenson's poems were too archaic. And anyway, I'm not sure that this is the best way to get her to raise her volume and her confidence. I feel that if I just had the right tools, I could really help her progress. Ideas?

teachart
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Re: Building confidence in a shy pre-teen

Unread post by teachart » Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:07 pm

Hello,

I've just started graduate school and my one course is about multilingual literacy. We have to tutor ELLs for our main course work. I've started working at a school that has a specific class for students who are new to the USA and this year there are 8 Chinese students, 9th and 10th grade. I'm specifically working with the two girls that are in that class, but I've noticed that even the boys seem reserved, unless they are speaking Mandarin to each other. I think some of it is just a cultural difference. I would suggest to find out things that she likes or likes to do and use those to get her more comfortable speaking more and speaking louder. It sounds like you've already started to do some of that, so I would just keep going with it.

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jfernjfern
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Re: Building confidence in a shy pre-teen

Unread post by jfernjfern » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:36 pm

It is great that you recognize this students abilities and also realize that social interactions are difficult for her and this is an area that can use some help. If she has more opportunities for interacting with her peers that means she has more opportunities for L2 output which is important for language acquisition. I appreciate that you have been able to build a positive rapport with your student and it seems that she is comfortable around you. I would say that you have been really successful in creating an environment for an ELL to thrive in. It is important for English learners to feel safe and at ease and I think you are doing that for your student. If you are concerned about this student's socialization in the school community maybe you can create opportunities for collaboration in your classroom. It may be helpful to have opportunities for this student to share about her Chinese culture and use this as a learning opportunity for all students. If this student particularly enjoys singing you could talk to her and her parents about getting her involved in a school musical or play (if this exists in your school) and stressing to her parents the benefits of interacting with her peers. This would also create more opportunities to practice her L2.

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kukuspeakhr
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Re: Building confidence in a shy pre-teen

Unread post by kukuspeakhr » Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:59 am

Help students build their English-learning confidence is very important.
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