Whether you think of yourself as an English teacher or not, if you're a native speaker you'll probably end up giving private English lessons at some point while living abroad. From language exchanges where your English skills are given in turn for help with writing Chinese characters, to meetings with friends-of-friends at Starbucks for some extra pocket money, or just a session helping out a Chinese friend who needs a leg up on English fluency, few expats will escape these private tutoring sessions.
But, too easily, a one-on-one language class can turn in to a torturous hour of hemming and hawing.
Be Selective and Don't Sell Yourself Short
If you are looking for private students, you probably don't need to look far. Sooner or later an acquaintance or co-worker will probably approach you about lessons or it will come up in conversation. If you can't wait to get started however, post an ad on an online forum about your city or put up a flyer in a cafe or bar you frequent. If you already have a teaching job, first check to see if this is allowed in your contract—you wouldn't want your boss to see these ads if it's not! Screen your prospective students to see how willing and dependable you think they'll be. Just because they contact you doesn't mean you have to tutor them. Decide how much, if anything, you'd like to charge. Fees for private lessons range wildly within China depending on your location and your relationship with the student.
Have a Goal
More often than not, someone approaching you about tutoring them in English will only have the vaguest, foggy idea about what they actually want to learn. “Um, oral English,” I remember one woman saying. After a little more pointed questioning from me it turned out she had a new boss from Germany who spoke English very quickly during staff meetings. When she and I met we would talk about her listening homework and then role-play meetings on different topics to practice her conversations with her boss. After a few months she felt better about her communication with her employer and so we found a different goal for her to work toward. It doesn't matter what the goal is, from being able to read a cookbook to getting into a graduate program abroad to understanding Lady Gaga's latest lyrics, your classes will be more useful for your student—and less stressful for you as the tutor—if you have a clear goal in mind.
Be on Time and Come Prepared
Even if it's just a casual language exchange with a friend you've known for ages, respect them by making an effort to be on time and ready to start when you get there. Treat each class as if you were getting paid, even if you aren't. Come with a clear plan of what you're going to accomplish in that hour—even if it's just a sticky note with some scribbled instructions to yourself.
Don't Make it all about You
When I was a student I had a Spanish language exchange partner. I don't think the exchange improved my speaking any, but it was good practice for my Spanish listening skills because all he did was talk about himself. I learned all about his favorite sports teams, what he ate for dinner and about his family politics. After one or two meetings this got to be incredibly boring, and after trying unsuccessfully to steer the conversations—or even get a word in edgewise--I found a different partner. While using personal anecdotes is a great way to give an example, using materials from books, newspapers and the web is a better way to broaden your students' mastery of English.
Working one-on-one with a language learner is a very personal process, whether they're a co-worker you're trying to help out, a neighbor you're tutoring as a favor or a friend's cousin's ex-girlfriend who has offered to swap you Chinese lessons. You should be able to teach them something, learn quite a bit about their culture and have a lot of fun in the meantime. Also you must realize the difference between the two languages and habits.
Make the feeling of the class great!
You should always come away from class with your student happy. The energy in the class should be fun, as easy as possible and not so strict as you would expect back home. A happy feeling is sometimes more important than the class content and/or what the student has learned. Making a good relationship between the student and you is essential. It also can help you have more students in the future through recommendation.
To teach a Chinese student’s English, you should be patient. When you teach for the first time you may run into some problems, especially when you can’t understand Chinese. Take the time to speak slowly and clearly. Ensure your student understands your meaning the best you can before moving on.
Original article modified from: echinacities.com
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