Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to Teach Words = K.I.S.S. it

Keep It Short and Simple.

This is something that we loose touch on because of all the things we tend to complicate. I personally have a little bit of a problem doing this. And it's a challenge that I am looking forward to re-learning. Then I had a conversation today that reminded me of the root of the issue.

She tested me "How would you teach the word ATTENTION to a kid?" I said "Look at me. Focus on me." She pretended to be a beginner student so she asked, "What is FOCUS?" I was stumped.


I get this a lot from my new kid. And she is eleven. We got caught up with the words Flattery, praise and compliments. I told her "It's to say something nice to someone."

The tester told me the golden rule about teaching children. "There are only a few words that they know." So to teach Attention I can say "Look at me, Focus on me." And to teach focus, I can say "ONLY ME" to teach what focus means. But obviously, I need to just go straight to "Look at me. Only me." to teach attention.

Learning to repeat yourself is something vital in what we do as teachers for beginners. Because if we loose patience, then the child would have more questions than learnings.

It applies to adult learners as well. Since there are also adult learners who are in a beginner or middle level who sign up to learn English online. They are just a little bit more shy to ask about the meaning of some words. But asking them if they have any questions or if there are any words they need clarifications on would help. So allotting time for these kind of questions are necessary in a class.

Never assume that the student would get it all at once. Keep explanations simple. Use common words, if at all possible, use the words they already learned in a previous class. As their teacher, you know what level of words you can use for explaining things to them. Never get tired of answering questions and be aware of the time that it takes you to answer said questions. Answer as soon as they ask and do so in a precise manner. Do not let your explanation or definition lead to more questions. Say it in a clear voice. Be confident of what you know. The student would have a feeling of doubt if you sound unsure of your answer to them. You are supposed to be the expert. Saying something that you are not sure of might lead to a student getting even more confused.

In these cases, Google and other online tools would come in handy to help support your stock knowledge. Do not say something that you are not sure of because your student might end up learning the wrong thing. Or worse, have an odd understanding of a word and end up using it in a conversation and get embarrassed. That would not sit well with them. Since studying with you is actually the sole chance they have to get it right and practice it so that when they need it in a real life situation they would not make such obvious mistakes.

A more complex understanding of something always starts with small comprehensible definitions.
So when defining things, be a dear and K.I.S.S. it.  

*image taken from internet

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