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ESL forum > Ask for help > How to start from the beginning     

How to start from the beginning


How to start from the beginning

I am a English Teaching student (last year), and I sometimes give private lessons to students of secondary school. A few days ago, a woman phoned me asking for English classes but she said she knew nothing about English and that she needed to learn very quickly.
The problem is that I have never taught anyone who knows nothing about English (well, Im sure she knows some, everybody does directly or indirectly) and I dont really know where (what topic) to start teaching her...

I thought about teachign basic things like verb to be and action verbs, but not sure about the correct order... Besides she says she wants to learn for understanding papers mainly, not much for speaking or listening...

Could you please give an idea on how (or where) should I start teaching her? regarding basic grammar aspects and vocabulary in context

P.S. as I am finishing college, I havent gathered much experience in teaching, that´s why sometimesI dont feel quite sure about my knowledge , so I ask for help! :)

Thanks for reading it and help!

7 Jun 2011      

United States

Maybe  this site can help. http://esl.about.com/od/beginningenglish/u/start.htm Ed

7 Jun 2011     

United Kingdom

its very important to maximise her time speaking in your classes - give her verbal examples from you or from a cd and then use verbal or visual prompts to get her to reproduce the structures.  She can do grammar exercises at home.  you can find starter materials on englishtips.org      Reward is very good for general english and Business Starter is good.

7 Jun 2011     


I´ve been working a lot with Cutting Edge by Longman (also available on englishtips.org), using the elementary level for false beginners or people who want to go faster. Have a look at the index, which should give you an idea about vocabulary topics and the order of introducing grammar. Even if she wants English for her job, she´ll need some basics. Concentrate on vocabulary and maybe she could bring a sample of what she has to read, so you get a better idea of what exactly she needs.

Good luck!

7 Jun 2011     


I´ve used New English File (both beginner and elementary level) with groups and one on one classes. The main advantage is you have most of the material ready to use -coursebook + workbook + TB + DVD with lots of everyday situations (great for role-plays and vocabulary recycling. You can get all the set on englishtips.org.
Good Luck!

8 Jun 2011     

Mehlika Sultan

this is not from books just from my experience.
if that lady wants to learn quickly some English means that you should better teach her some basic vocab at  first +practice basic conversation together and encourage her to have confidence in speaking. At the same time she  has to practice a lot listening of something in English to distinguish or catch some of your taught Engl vocab or movie/songs in english if possible with subtitles and karaoke-why not?
to my mind if you start with grammar she will try to follow the grammar rules whenever she tries to speak in English. so her speaking will be forced and she would rather be afraid to speak.
as soon as she starts speaking and isn ´t afraid to make any mistakes(coz everybody learns by making mistakes) you can slightly start correct her mistakes while speaking, so, in this way, she will speak already and fill the grammar gaps.
i wish you good luck.

8 Jun 2011     


Hi, I think that first of all you should ask her for which purpose she needs English so that you can go to the right direction without wasting time. Say for example that she will be sent abroad and keep some stands to show some products or that she has to answer the phone and keep some orders and so on... What you are going to teach her depends on her needs.
My advice is to clarify with her the purpose and the needs. After that you make your plans.
I hope this is useful for you. And good luck!!

8 Jun 2011