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I know there's a few people reading this who teach, and if you wouldn't mind, I could do with picking a few ideas off you to steal and pass as my own.

Essentially, I have a student whose struggling with spelling and grammar. He was doing alright, but recently there's been a bit of a relapse, and I'd like to get him back to paying attention to it and picking it up (without getting into too much detail, it's a pretty bad side of things, and is making the difference between pass and fail in High School English). Anyhow, what I'm looking for is basically some different ways to do this--something that's a bit off the beating path and which will be (hopefully) more engaging than the usual stuff you do with this kind of issue. So if you got any experience of teaching it (or having it taught to you) feel free to drop some notes down in the comments for me.




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Jun. 11th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
Based on my recent experience of instruction, I'd suggest rewarding good spelling with small biscuits and ruffling of his hair, and punishing errors with a sharp "NO!".

Hope that helps!


Maybe you could extend the "swearbox" concept and have a "mistakebox" for spelling errors that get into essays he's had time to edit and check. Couple that with two minute "spelling slams" in which he has to read through a page of text with introduced errors, and gets to leave tuition a minute early for each one he correctly spots.

Or you could just try getting all Bogart on his arse: "kid, take my word for it: being able to spell never lost no one any respect, but not being able to sure has". Oh wait, that's ungrammatical.
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC)
heh. you know, the mistake box might be worth something...
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
It's hard to say not knowing the student, but I find that really breaking down grammatical structures and showing how regular verbs work and how sentences generally need a subject and an object and how verbs must agree with their subject etc. can help.

I've even done the kind of exercises that kids learning English don't usually get, but which foreign language classes are full of, like:

I run
you run
she/he/it runs
we run
they run

And having done that with a couple of basic verbs, I then go on to do the important ones like to be and to have and to will which function as tense modifiers.

I have run
you will run
they are running

It sounds boring, but it can actually help by providing rules and structures which can be referred to when struggling with a particular sentence.

Find examples of well written and poorly written sentences might help. Sometimes people can see that something is not quite right, even when they don't have the tools to express why.

The other thing I did with my year 12 English kids is teach them what an essay is, i.e. a coherent argument expressed in sentences and paragraphs. I find that most people coming through the Australian school system are never taught about argument structure, and that an essay is an argument, and not a summary or report.
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
yeah, that final stuff is what i do when i'm teaching essays.

i think the i run, you run stuff is a bit low for him, but thanks anyhow.
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
The going through simple verb forms is pretty low, and it is what I did with all my under 13 kids, but only with certain year 11 and 12s who were really struggling. The subject/object stuff, and verb agreement is less remedial, but can help enormously in some cases.

When I was teaching Critical Thinking classes in uni, a lot of the students had go through high school and into uni without anybody ever bothering to explain some basic grammatical rules, and they often expressed surprise and gratitude at finally being shown how things work.
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
one of the things i have to work round right now is keeping him receptive while i'm teaching. from experience, if i drop to real basic stuff, it causes him to jack up a little and not want to do the work cause it's beneath him or makes him feel stupid. so i gotta loop round, y'know?
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I remember that experience. Sometimes telling them that the syllabus is stupid and has been ripping them off can help.

Prefacing it with "this is stuff people don't usually learn until uni" can actually help.

Edited at 2009-06-11 04:54 am (UTC)
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
that's my regular teaching pattern ;)
Jun. 11th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
Also, if people dislike learning grammar, get them to analyse this sentence: "Fucking fuckers fuck fuckingly."
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
How old is the student?
Jun. 11th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
13, 14.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)
i left that just for you
Jun. 11th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Don't know if it helps, Ben, but I've had some success getting through when I target all of the instruction to something the student likes. For example, if he's a facebook addict, have him login and hunt for typos, errors, or other examples of things you're trying to teach him. Or if he's a gamer, use the instruction manual, or the game itself, if you can set that up.

You can do it in reverse with things that piss the student off. If he hates newspapers, attack a newspaper with him. Make fun of the thing with him while hunting for demonstrative errors and the like.

Again, not sure if that helps. Good luck with him.
Jun. 12th, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
thanks, man. i've been doing that kind of stuff for a while, tho (it's how i usually teach, using different mediums than the stuff they get in high school, mainly to break up things).
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