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ESL forum > Ask for help > I need some advice    

I need some advice


I need some advice



I have been teaching an adult business English for the last 6 months. He came to me in order to improve his speech. I have taught him first the basic grammar and vocab needed (tenses, adj, adv, articles, nouns etc). We then moved on to building sentences. When I give him homework, he does it well; however, he cannot translate his knowledge to speech or free writing. It is as though all the rules I had taught, he forgot. I would like to ask for advice on how I should overcome this obstacle with him.


Any advice is welcomed!

Tamar Oron


23 Feb 2009      


For speaking - maybe try working with dialogues regarding real situations.  Like shopping.  If he starts reading them, he may gain enough confidence to answer simple questions. 
For writing - you could give him the beginning of a sentence and have him complete it orally and then try to write it. 

23 Feb 2009     


Hi Woodge,
So far you have done a good job.
Now it s time to create opportunities where this learner can put all what he/she has learnt into practice.
-Start with questions and teach him/her how to ask and answer.Go from easy to difficult.
-Describe people/places/things/pictures....
-Express opinion/likes and dislikes/Offer/Suggestion/Agreeing and disgreeing....
Please Don t over correct.Over correction hinders learning.
Give him/her self confidence and never stop him/her in mid-sentence.
Don t blame him/her for not using a rule you taught him/her
Practice makes perfect ;and all things are difficult before they are easy.
Good luck

23 Feb 2009     

United States

Hello there !

Provide some simple beginner-level/children s writing models, either from ESL texts or children s books in English. I recommend Images 1 and 2 by Guenther Zuern. Their foundation is picture stories. Have your student try to copy the format, but write his own information. Do this many times before trying a higher level of writing or speaking. Have him read out loud, many times, what he has written.

Autobiographical themes work best for people just starting out. Try simple SHORT sentences about his name, where hes from, how old he is, etc. You go first, and have him mimic you. Do this over and over until it becomes automatic.

Good luck!

Your American friend,

23 Feb 2009     


Hi, Woodge!

You are not the only one facing such a problem:) I have a highschool student who wants to improve her English, and at the beginning her spoken English was grammatically quite terrible. She had little knowledge of grammar and she had got accustomed to speak incorrectly. You know how difficult it is to change one s habits!! As Harim already stated, we are not to over correct and discourage the student. I admit, it seemed quite beyond hope to me! Well, in addition to all the grammar studies I have found a good way to change her bad habits - I give her simple short stories to intepret into English. For this purpose I have found good ones here: http://simplestories.blogspot.com/  So I give her a story to take home and read. At the following lesson I read the story for her to hear it and then I read it sentence by sentence in our native language, and she has to interpret it back. This is when I insist on her speaking as correctly as possible. She tries very hard:) However, as she has already read and heard the English text before, it stays in the back of her mind and it is easier for her to put it in more correct way. The process of improvement is very slow, but I am happy to hear her speaking and also writing more correctly now, and her teacher at school also has noticed this.

Good luck!Smile

23 Feb 2009     


Dear Woodge,

I have also been dealing with similar profiles (my principal activity consists of continuing instruction in companies) I generally love it although sometimes adults are not that disciplined, too busy to do homework....

Like you, I have seen several  adults who are excellent at doing drills, written exercices, but become speechless once faced with the simplest oral activity...

What I can say is that this stage is inevitable... Fluency will NOT come overnight (after a few hours of teaching); it rather necessitates  a lot of time and a lot of practice. The learning process is quite complex, and adults, contrary to children, are handicapped in several ways (age,  memory limitations, the influence of mother tongue or other existing languages,  family and professional preocupations, lack of time,... to mention but a few examples)

How many times I had to answer  some of my learners asking the same question "will I become fluent after a 40 hour module of English?"

My advice: I really believe you could have started with very very basic oral activities in parallel with the grammar basics you taught him, (my philosophy is to work on all the skills  (oral and written comprehension, oral and written production) at the same time, whatever the level, and NEVER say grammar basics first and then some speaking later on

I would never use  what  zoemorosini recommended (materials designed for children)   (no colourful, flashing workheets either)
I did it long ago and it is not at all sucessful. You need resources specifically designed and adapted to adults (Children are children, and adults are adults)

To give you an idea I work on MARKET LEADER series (there is one for every level: elementary, pre intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced) and they are really successul when it comes to teaching business English. My other favourites are INTELLIGENT BUSINESS and THE BUSINESS, plus other internet  web sites.

To conclude I would just insist on the importance of patience and perseverence, and that this  learning stage where  the learner stagnates is inevitable

So practice, practice and ....... practice


23 Feb 2009     


Hi everyone! I wanted to thank you all for the wonderful advice you all sent. I am sorry for the time it took me to reply, I didn t know how to access the topic in the forum (I didn t remeber the date I posted it).


I will try some of the things you offered and I believe I will see the difference eventually.


Thanks again,

Tamar Oron



2 Mar 2009