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I am teaching my Polish friend English, advice needed


pam
21 Oct 2012 #1
Hope this is in the right category, but i couldn't think where else to post it.
My Polish friend Ewa has lived in the UK for 6 years, doesn't speak English, and hasn't wanted to learn.
In the past she worked with Polish people only. Now she has a new job working with both English and Polish people.
Her new employer is sending her to college 1 hour a week to learn basic English, but more importantly for her, her daughter is starting school next year, and she feels she now needs to learn English to support her daughter.

She has been at college for 2 months now, and has learnt more or less.....nothing.
She is working from a book called " Cutting Edge" by Pearson. I have seen this book, and imo it's not very good. I had a problem following it, frankly.

There are listening and group work exercises in it. They are not working in groups, or listening to recordings, so she can't fill in the blanks in the exercises.

She has asked me to teach her English.
Yesterday i spent a couple of hours with her.I taught her basic conversation e.g My name is......What's your name ? etc.
I wrote this down in both English and Polish.
In addition i wrote down the present tense of the verbs Mieć (to have),Wiedzieć ( to know) and Być ( to be ), in both English and Polish, with written examples of simple sentences.

I am not a teacher. What i am trying to do is teach her what i wanted( and needed) to know when i first started learning Polish.

I am trying to keep things simple and not give her too much information to start with
I would like to hear from Teachers in particular. Am i going about this in the right way?
She seems more than happy, and is keen for me to continue, but any tips would be helpful.
BTW, she only has Polsat, and doesn't watch English TV. She doesn't know how to use a computer either, so online learning is a no no.

PS, sorry for the essay!
GabiDaHun 2 | 152
21 Oct 2012 #2
Hi. IMO you're correct about Cutting Edge - while it has some good lessons it's generally a load of pony. I hate teaching from that book.

You're doing the right thing by keeping conversation simple. She probably doesn't get enough time to actually practise using English for communication purposes, and it might be a good idea to work in tandem with what she is learning at the college. So you should get her to do all the talking, make her think, don't tell her everything and get her to "work it out for herself (if you can).

If you're going to approach grammar - keep it simple, use substitution tables, highlight conjugations, negatives and questions.. eg:

Grammar

This:
scribd.com/doc/21349490/Elementary-Grammar-Games-Jill-Hadfield
is quite a good book if you're going to concentrate on speaking with her. You can copy the image on your computer, paste it into paint, and then print it out. The language is quite targeted, and it means you can correct her mistakes.

There are a few websites where you can download materials, grammar books, etc. PM me if you want the links. New English File seems to be the standard course book at the moment - if you want to work from course books. It's quite good, but I prefer the old one.
a.k.
21 Oct 2012 #3
She has been at college for 2 months now, and has learnt more or less.....nothing.

No wonder if:

1 hour a week

It's a waste of money. Even 2 hours a week would be. Generally a minimum for a course should be 4 hours a week, even that doesn't seem enough if someone wants to learn basic language within months not years.

I'm not a teacher, as you know, but I'd like to put in my pennyworth from a point of view of a learner.

You started well, as those things you taught her are the very basic one learns first at every course.
You should advise her to buy a concise English grammar book in Polish. These usually are not books used at courses but are far much better than coursebooks. I can even suggest one I liked when I was the beginner, however I'm not sure if it's still in stock after so many years. I also don't know if there are any bookstores in Wales one can purchase such books in Polish.

One of the greatest problem when someone starts to learn a foreign language for first time is accepting that the way foreign language works can be a completely different from the native tongue. That's sounds like a cliche but it's true.

If you can try to point her that:

- English has several sounds that doesn't exist in Polish (and likewise), there are several vowels which sounds similar to "a", several that sounds similar to "e", etc., Polish "r" is not the same as English "r", that "th" sounds are not "d" or "v" or "f" (but lisping "f" or lisping "v"). It's all certainly obvious for you but might not be so obvious for her.

- There are far more tenses than in Polish lang. The tenses that Polish language doesn't have (therefore the meaning of them is hard to understand for beginners) are the perfect tenses. Many tenses are made by means of the auxilary verbs: to have and to be, which have no literal meaning in the sentence.

- Prepositions doesn't always coincide in Polish and English, that's why it's worth sometimes to learn by heart which verbs/expressions needs which preposition. Sometimes using a different preposition changes the meaning completely (for instance care for, care about)

- What are phrasal verbs and idioms (that maybe later, when she'll grasp a bit of English already)
smurf 39 | 1,981
21 Oct 2012 #4
I am not a teacher.

Run away, it's not worth it the money she's paying you, you'll just cause a load of work for yourself and won't teach her properly.

has lived in the UK for 6 years, doesn't speak English, and hasn't wanted to learn.

If she hasn't learnt by now she's not goin to bother no matter what she says, you're onto a dead rubber here love. Walk away.
a.k.
21 Oct 2012 #5
I see I've done a few grammar mistake in my last post... and I talk about teaching others grammar :)))

By the way Pam, how do you communicate with her if she doesn't know any English?
Richfilth 6 | 415
21 Oct 2012 #6
If you're not a teacher, then don't try too hard; you'll confuse her and make things even harder for her proper teacher.

What you can do is vocabulary and practise. Find tasks for her to build up her word base, so that she can apply the basic rules she's learning in class to more practical applications.

A good example is structured word lists. Take some sheets of A4 and just do mind maps of vocabulary areas; for example Food, which you write in the middle of the paper. Just ask her to name three ingredients from the top of her head (e.g Potato, Chicken, pasta). Since those three words have nothing in common, put them in three different corners of the paper.

Then tell her Potato is a vegetable, and write that word between "food" and "potato". Ask her for three more vegetables. If she says "tomato" (they all do) you can tell her that that is a Fruit, which you write close to "food" but towards the blank corner of your paper. Ask for three more fruits. For chicken, ask for three more meats.

Once you've played with that, take an exercise book and make her write the new words into ordered lists - a new page for each section (so Page 1 - Vegetables, Page 2 - Fruit and so on). Tell her to add 5 more words to each list with her daughter's help.

DON'T try and teach her too much grammar. Keep things in the Present Simple (I eat, I run, I go) until she tells you she's learned the Past Simple at college. You can try to explain the Regular and Irregular verbs if you like, but keep things to basic daily routines; I wake up, I get dressed, I eat breakfast, I go to work... stay away from idioms and phrasal verbs for now. But you can teach her prepositions of place and time, and time phrases, numbers, weather, furniture, transport - all the day to day stuff.
a.k.
21 Oct 2012 #7
In Poland we consider tomatoes to be vegetables.
Richfilth 6 | 415
21 Oct 2012 #8
Everyone does, even in the UK, but biologically it's in a different class (in the same way bananas are herbs and peanuts are vegetables, or so I'm told). It's just an opportunity to bring Fruit into the conversation, and she can practise "tomato is a fruit, potato is a vegetable". Once you've made simple statements like that, she can practice questions; What is a tomato, what is a potato? It all stems from there.
a.k.
21 Oct 2012 #9
Everyone does, even in the UK, but biologically it's in a different class

That's right. But she might not know it, therefore it may bring an unneccesary confusion. When speaking about food better stick to food terminology and divisions :)
Richfilth 6 | 415
21 Oct 2012 #10
It's important that you build interaction into the task; if it's just you telling her the info then it will go in one ear and out the other. Hence the fruit question.

I'm presuming you're doing this in two languages with her. Of course, if you're not speaking Polish to her at all, then try to avoid anything that may be confusing. But be prepared for the confusing stuff (that Salad is a sub-category of Vegetable, and that Polish "salata" means "lettuce", not "salad".)
smurf 39 | 1,981
21 Oct 2012 #11
In Poland we consider tomatoes to be vegetables.

Tomato is a fruit
oxforddictionaries.com/words/is-a-tomato-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable
everyone knows that *rollseyes
(^_^)
norbe1010 - | 2
21 Oct 2012 #12
Dont waste your money on 'Cutting Edge' it is not worth it.
Wulkan - | 3,250
21 Oct 2012 #13
what is her age? I hope that the teacher at course is Polish.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
21 Oct 2012 #14
and she feels she now needs to learn English

It took her 6 years to figure that out... ?
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386
21 Oct 2012 #15
My Polish friend Ewa has lived in the UK for 6 years, doesn't speak English, and hasn't wanted to learn.

have her learn like the rest of us. ladybird books etc.

or am i a bit out of date.
OP pam
21 Oct 2012 #16
Previewing my individual replies, it seems i have made a right mess of them.As well as not being a teacher, i am also not a whizz on computers!

Thanks everyone for replies, much appreciated.
GABI, you gave some good advice. I am trying to get her to do more of the talking, and to encourage her to think for herself.

I don't think i can really avoid Grammar, but to keep it simple i have only given present tense examples. Do you think i should continue with this and introduce past and future later? I don't want to overload her with information.

I will be seeing her later this week, so i think i will see if she has understood and remembered everything. If she hasn't then i will have to have a re-think.

I may well PM you! The tables seem like a good idea,but a lot will depend on how well she picks things up from the start.

A.K, I have already pointed out major differences between the 2 languages to her, so she knows what she's letting herself in for to some extent. With regard to vowel sounds, i know this will present a problem. Contrast the "a" in April with the "a" in Apple.Consonants aren't much better either, but she does understand the alphabet isn't phonetic. Not sure how much i can help with this, she'll just have to practice.

RICHFILTH, I like the idea of the structured word lists.This is the sort of advice i need. I don't want her to get bored with lessons, because it will be harder for her to learn.

The sentences i've given her are very similar to those you suggested. I don't think i could've made them any simpler tbh.

Obviously she needs vocabulary, and it is important, but without Grammar, she isn't going to be able to string a sentence together.
I am doing this in 2 languages, which i'm not sure is such a good thing. I don't want her to rely on me speaking Polish too much, she needs to be speaking English, but not being a teacher, i can't work out how else to explain things.

SMURF, I wouldn't dream of charging my friend for English lessons! Besides it's helping my Polish:)

JUst seen a couple of other contributions, but can't remember who posted them.
Ewa is 35, for whoever asked, but thanks for all replies!
jon357 66 | 16,187
21 Oct 2012 #17
Remember that the key is that people can speak more easily, freely and willingly in a foreign language on subjects they enjoy talking about in their own language. You can then use the language they produce to build up their vocabulary in that area and gradually get them to expand into different topics.
Richfilth 6 | 415
21 Oct 2012 #18
Purists will tell you that you're not supposed to use L1 (her native language), and that constantly using L2 (the target language, English) will give her an "immersive" approach that will help her to THINK in English, not just speak it. But on the flipside, she's in a native-speaking country where she can immerse herself in English whenever she wants, and that means you can use L1 on a "gently, gently" approach to save time.

Adult learners do need different approaches to kids; you have to explain things, and then support your explanations with reasons. If the reasons aren't good enough, the explanation is rejected. Expect her to argue with you, or demand examples, or find fault with your logic. That's a sign she's trying to work it all out, and should be rewarded.

But remember, grammar really is secondary to fluency (which just means communicating the idea as quickly as possible, NOT accurately). If she says "I go work tomorrow, I sad, I no money" then smile and tell her she's doing fine. You can understand her message, she got her idea across, and you can reply accordingly. With time, you can go back and clean up the mistakes, but if you try and correct everything she says right at the beginning, then she'll get disheartened, lose confidence and stop learning.

Teaching is a funny mixture of linguistics and psychology, and you have to adjust the ratio for each student.
Wulkan - | 3,250
21 Oct 2012 #19
It took her 6 years to figure that out... ?

yep, that's why I asked how old she is cause I found it strange too.
OP pam
21 Oct 2012 #20
It took her 6 years to figure that out... ?

In her defence, she worked with Poles, and apart from shopping etc, she didn't have much contact with English people, so felt she didn't need to learn English.

Now she realises her mistake, as it won't be long before her daughter is chatting away in English, and she will need to understand.

Remember that the key is that people can speak more easily, freely and willingly in a foreign language on subjects they enjoy talking about in their own language. You can then use the language they produce to build up their vocabulary in that area and gradually get them to expand into different topics.

Yeah, i can relate to this, much more interesting for her to talk about her interests, thanks.

But remember, grammar really is secondary to fluency

Thanks for this, i would probably have tried to correct everything right at the start, so she learns properly. Guess "a" and "the" aren;t overly important in the general scheme of things. I don't want her to lose heart.
Wulkan - | 3,250
21 Oct 2012 #21
Now she realises her mistake

wow, after six years, I hope her man has a bit of a brain cause if not I already feel sorry for her daughter...
OP pam
21 Oct 2012 #22
Er..no, he doesn't speak English either.
Frankly i am rather amazed that they've got by, but if you work all day in a non-English speaking environment, and go home in the evening, when are you really going to mix with English people?
scottie1113 7 | 898
21 Oct 2012 #23
[quote=pam] Guess "a" and "the" aren;t overly important in the general scheme of things.

Exactly. At her level, she doesn't need to spend any time on articles. Keep it simple for now.
Wulkan - | 3,250
21 Oct 2012 #24
Frankly i am rather amazed that they've got by, but if you work all day in a non-English speaking environment, and go home in the evening, when are you really going to mix with English people?

I started mixing with English people as soon as I moved to England. What can be more fascinating than learning the language and coulture of the new country you live in.

Second thing is you dont need to mix with locals to learn the language, you can watch local tv, read papers, listen to the radio and so on...
OP pam
21 Oct 2012 #25
I agree, but obviously everyone is different.
Maybe the not wanting to learn is in part due to fear of making mistakes.
My ex-lodger wouldn't speak English,and living in my house, he had the perfect opportunity to learn.He wouldn't though, because he was worried he would be laughed at in shops etc. Sad really.
Wulkan - | 3,250
21 Oct 2012 #26
I was the same at the very start but quickly realised that English people are used to listening to broken English cause so many immigrants living there.
grubas*
21 Oct 2012 #27
But remember, grammar really is secondary to fluency (which just means communicating the idea as quickly as possible, NOT accurately). If she says "I go work tomorrow, I sad, I no money" then smile and tell her she's doing fine.

I don't think this is a good idea.When I was learning I asked everyone around to correct me if I am making mistake and to tell me how they would say that and I still do.In my opinion one should learn the right way from the very begining as it is hard to fix it later.
OP pam
21 Oct 2012 #28
This is exactly what i'm like with learning Polish. I ask everyone around me to correct me when i'm wrong, but we're not all the same.

From what RichFilth and Scottie1113 have said, i don't think it's the end of the world if Ewa omits articles at the moment.

I would rather she understands the context of the conversation. That's more important for now. Articles can be added later, and they're not a hugely important part of English grammar when compared with verb tenses etc.
grubas*
21 Oct 2012 #29
i don't think it's the end of the world if Ewa omits articles at the moment.

I don't know much about articles and I am doing just fine.What are they anyway?
a.k.
21 Oct 2012 #30
I don't know much about articles and I am doing just fine

Me too. Generally I omit them... at least that's what people say ;)))

What are they anyway?

In case you really don't know: the and a/n


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