Under the Table or Not ... Keep Patience and ...
Continue Your Lesson
Reading Vladimira's post about young learners brought me back to my first steps in teaching English one-to-one and how I learned from my little pupil to be more creative, mindful and patient.
Young learners are different. Adults are interested in the language itself, trying to find some system and logic, while children's main concern is not the words but the action or, in other words, what is happening. Young learners perceive a foreign language as a new discovery, a game, if only the game is really interesting. They trust us waiting for something new, need our encouragement and are ready to be creative and funny. But they stop when they are not interested any more or bored, or even worse, are forced to do anything they don't like.
My pupil was a six-year-old girl, rather smart who had some experience in learning English with another teacher. She knew the ABC and could read a bit. The girl was eager to learn - we played different vocabulary and phonic games, sing songs, read to each other. Everything went smoothly, but... One day I came to her and saw her scowling face. She refused to learn English and hid under the table. I whispered the parents not to interfere, sat on a sofa with a teddy-bear and a doll and began reading a book. Reading to myself I made some remarks smiling and laughing from time to time:
"Oh, it's so interesting!"
"Well, it couldn't be so!"
Then I heard a voice from under the table: "What's amazing?" It was a good sign! The girl spoke in her L1, so not to make her more frustrated I also spoke to her in L1.
"The book is amazing."
"Why is it amazing?"
"Because it's about one little boy who is living in a forest with the animals."
Now I think you guessed it was a story about Mowgli.
"Where are his parents?" enquiried the voice from under the table.
"I don't know. I'll have to read the book to the end to find out. But now we are going to do some exercises to the first chapter and paint the pictures."
"We? Who are we?"
"The teddy-bear, the doll and me. They have read the book with me and now know how to paint the pictures."
"I also want to paint the pictures," said the voice from under the table.
"But first you'll have to read the book."
"OK," she said. And with words the girl left her shelter and sat on the sofa next to me showing interest in reading. The rest of the lesson went smoothly. It was my little victory.