GeoVisions Blog

10 Reasons English Is Hard To Teach Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jul 10, 2013

Teach English AbroadAs if we needed to list out reasons ... we all know, even those of us who are native speakers, English is tough.  How many times have you heard your friends at school say, "I don't know where I put it at."  Or, "I don't know where it's at."  And of course, the proper way to say that is, "I don't know where it is."

But there are homonyms that drive new speakers of English right up the wall.  homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings.  A good example would be, "When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes."

If you're on our Teach in Thailand program or our Teach in Myanmar program and you begin this lesson, it isn't going to last an hour.  If you can get through homonyms in a week, you'll be lucky.

I thought it might be fun in this post to list out my favorite homonyms that gave me the most trouble when I was a teacher.  And that was so long ago, I think God was a baby at the time.

  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • He could lead, if only he would get the lead out.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen on how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • After a number of injections, my jaw got number.
  • Upon seeing a tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
And then there is my all time favorite:
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
There is no real easy way to teach someone homonyms ... and that goes for native speakers as well.  Since our teachers do read our Blog, and use some of the posts in their lesson plans, can someone take a minute and tell us in the Comment section below how they teach homonyms?

Tags: Teach Abroad, Help Me Teach

Help Me Teach English Abroad--Teaching In China

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Hi

I'm a new teacher in china and I'm looking for any materials you have available to help me better prepare lessons! I teach beginner english to elementary in preschool students.

Anthony

teach English abroad in ChinaHi Anthony,

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am an ESL teacher here at GeoVisions.  I have worked with children of every age and even taught adult education.  It sounds like quite an exciting adventure that you've taken on.  My high school has done exchanges with Chinese high schools.  I'll have to find out where they are and let you know.

Anyway, it sounds like the children you teach are pretty young.  They are probably very sponge like and ready to absorb everything around them.  You are probably a real novelty.  I would begin by introducing yourself completely.  Show them pictures of you, your family, friends, your home town. Pick up postcards of your home state.  Show them what children their age from your home area do for fun.  Show them an elementary school.  Do a really simple comparison chart of the two places.  

I would pursue lessons in literature.  Children that young are not as inhibited as older children and handle it better when they don't pronounce something correctly.  Introduce some of your favorite children's literature.  Create story maps, new endings, prequels, etc.  You can go anywhere with children's literature.  

The other thing I would do with them would be to play games.  This makes the learning fun and anytime you are engaging them and giving directions, you are using and reinforcing good English.  Teach them games like Concentration, Hang Man, Duck Duck Goose, tag, whatever.  Teach them games that you played as a child and have them teach you games.  Have them teach you in English.  

Write me back, Anthony, and tell me what your supervisors are expecting of you.  This can help me direct you with ideas.  Also, can you please be more specific about the ages of the children you are charged with teaching.  These little bits of information will help me to help you a great deal.

I hope I helped a little bit and I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a good couple of days.

Betsy

a classroom in China teaching English abroadHi, Betsy. I teach in several different schools. The school I spend most of my time at has me teach a variety of different classes in half hour segments. The students in the school are generally between the ages of 3 and 6. There are a few classes where the students are around 8 to 11 years old.  There's no good way to prepare for this style of teaching. My materials are a set a flash cards that I'm given by the other teacher. They inform me what the class is learning today,  and I try to engage the students with the new words and new sentences, or new concepts as is the case with the older students. What I'm looking for is a toolbox that I can use on a moment's notice. Games and activities that are fun for children, and can be used with a wide variety of concepts and vocabulary.

Anthony

Dear Anthony, 

You have a perfect opportunity to play games and teach your students without them every knowing that they are learning.  Anytime you interact with them you are modeling good English.  So with your littles, play Duck, Duck, Goose and tag and four square.  Sing silly songs and read to them.  I don't know what type of resources you have available, but any children's literature can be helpful, even if it isn't your first choice.  Let me know what you have so that we can plan accordingly.

Are you able to access the flash cards before class or even the day before?  This would allow you a little time to prepare.  YOu can also focus on games with the older kids.  Try to remember songs and games from your childhood and share them with the kids.  

The ESL lounge has this great template that allows you to download games.  The games are not yet created, it is simply a template.  You can go crazy with this.  Either create your own games or have the kids create games in English for each other.  No matter the age, I have found that my students learn the most when they have to create the game or quiz themselves.  Have you checked out the ESL lounge for other resources?  There are some really good ones.

Show the kids pictures and photographs of what children their age are doing from your hometown.  Despite the age, they are interested.  Show them schools, playgrounds, geographic features, your family, etc.  Your older kids can make a t-chart comparing the two areas of the world.  

Let me know if any of this helps, Anthony.  Have fun.

Betsy

Tags: Teach Abroad, China, Help Me Teach, Teach in China

I Live With A Family In Turkey And Teach Them English-Help Me Teach

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Oct 04, 2012
live with a family in spain and teach them englishEach week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

browse by tagYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Betsy,
 
I am tutoring in Istanbul this summer to a 10 year old in 3rd level English and an 8 year old in 1st level English.  I would like to know what they are learning in 1st and 3rd level English in Istanbul to find out what they are learning and already will know, and where I can begin my lesson planning.  Any help with this would be great.  Many thanks.
 
Marlynn


Hi Marilyn

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I have been an ESL teacher for about five years. I have been a high school teacher for 15 years and have worked in Child Welfare Services before that.  I love to work with my English language learners and love to learn from them.  I tell you this to put you at ease in terms of what the children are learning in school.  Chances are, what the kids are learning in school have little to do with what they will learn from you.

Remember, you are there to teach them conversational English.  They don't need to be worrying about verb tense or which article to use.  A message can be made without tribute to their schooling.  Make it fun.  What is fun to you?  Chances are that your host family will be more akin to absorbing something that you are clearly interested in.  A ten year old and an eight year old can have a variety of interests.  I think of my eight year old niece, who had no trouble communicating with her cousin from Italy when they visited.  They shared magazines, books, and music.  I would start with what is interesting to you.  My own children have always loved learning about nature.  How about magazines like "Ranger Rick" and "Your Big Backyard".  Something that might even be more near and dear to your heart could be some sort of publication from where you are from, something that you can talk about personally.  

I also think that you shouldn't disregard SOME material that we would consider to babyish.  The eight year old might really relish an opportunity to look over some of Richard Scarry's word books.  They are clear, to the point, and easy to understand.  They are as babyish as you make them.  

Your ten year old can be more of a challenge because of the age.  Also, are they a secular family?  Is the child a boy or a girl?  There is so much that you can do with a child of that age because they are truly starting to discover the world.  Do they like sports? architecture, nature, reading?  In order to best reach these kids, its best to know what they are interested in.  I have gone as far, in my classes, as acting out certain scenarios.  Don't rule out anything.  

Ask your family what they want to learn.  Are they interested in just formal conversation?  Do they want to know about food and cooking?  sports?  leisure?  the president?  (Always bring information about the president and the president's stand on Turkey, they always want to know).  

I envy you this wonderful opportunity.  Please be in touch with more information so that I can offer more suggestions.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Betsy Bruneau

Tags: Help Me Teach, Conversation Corps-Turkey

I Live With A Family In Spain And Teach Them English-Help Me Teach

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Sep 25, 2012

Each week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag boxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Betsy,
 
My name is Kaite and I will live with a family in Spain and teach them English, specifically in Madrid starting October 1st.  I work at a camp right now so will not really have much free time the end of August. The family I will be staying with have two children, 3 (girl) and a 5 year old boy. I checked out the ESL Lounge provided to me by GeoVisions and noticed a lot of it is for older children. I will be trying to log on quickly when I have some free time to see if they have more that I might have missed but thought I would check with you to see if you had any good hints for me to start planning. I know a lot of my time speaking with the children will be playing with them and I am checking into buying some games and having them sent directly to Madrid.
 
Any help you could offer would be great.
 
Thanks so much,

Kaite
Hi Kaite,
Teach in SpainI love the way you spell your name. Anyway, it looks like you have an exciting trip ahead of you and that you may be ahead of the game because you already work at a camp and are accustomed to being around children.

The children you will be charged with teaching are at such an ideal age and really language hungry. They are also at an age where they are probably really uninhibited about trying words and pronunciations and the like. I think that you have exactly the right idea; play with the kids. It's the best way for them to learn and they'll never even know they're doing it. I wouldn't spend too much time or money on games. I think playing games is an excellent idea.

Play games from your childhood, like Duck Duck Goose or Mother May I. Play simple card games like Concentration with fewer cards since the children are so young (actually any type of matching game is excellent). Play Hide and Seek and Tag. The whole time that you are playing with them you will be conversing which is the best way for them to learn. If I were to bring anything with me it would be Richard Scarry's Word Book. There are a few different ones. My own daughters read them far past the recommended ages because they have captivating illustrations and are very easy to understand. Another good author is Eric Carle, especially Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

Take advantage of every interaction with the children to converse with them. So this would include when you are eating, shopping, playing, bathing, walking, etc. You are probably going to be seen as a big play mate and not a teacher, which is a nice way to be recognized. I would also go to the library with the kids and see to what books and topics they are drawn. Then try to focus your ideas and lessons on their interests. You are much more likely to keep their attention.

Also, sing with them. Basic silly songs, the alphabet song, whatever. We all learn more efficiently when we can sing it and are much more likely to remember the subject.

I can give you much more detailed and structured lessons, Kaite, but I think you have the right idea by keeping it informal. Let me know how it is going.

Betsy

Tags: Conversation Corps-Spain, Teach Abroad, Help Me Teach

Teach In Thailand With Students Aged 11 To 60

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Sep 24, 2012

Each week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag BoxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Hi Betsy,

I've just arrived in Thailand to teach a mother, grandmother, and her young grandson .... Ages 11 to 60....there might be some other people coming too.

I have no idea where to start and looking at the resources. It doesn't seem to help me to assist with people who speak zero english and me no Thai. They really have no English so I can't even rely on one to translate or to lead...they look to me...I have an iPad and am using Google Translate which has been my saviour...so far we are concentrating on greetings and body parts...I've also shown them YouTube videos of Australia. They are all absolute beginners with no confidence and no English.

I'd appreciate any kind of suggestions, assistance, resources, anything you can suggest....

Kind regards

Kieran

Teach in Thailand with GeoVisionsWow, Kieran, you are really brave.  I think there is a lot you can do so please don't worry so much.  I am an ESL teacher in Connecticut where I also teach high school social studies and special education.  I have worked with children of every age and have taught a few years of night school.  Every age group has something to offer and I found the adults one of the most fun groups with which to work.

You will find out very early what each member of your group is capable of.  Many new speakers of English know some words but feel funny speaking.  Many can read or understand, but not speak.  You will probably find that there will be a leader, of sorts, in your group for which you can rely to translate or give you an indication of what the others are capable of or willing to do.

Since you are teaching adults, you need to assure that your lessons are high interest.  So begin by talking about the culture from which you come.  What do people do there for fun?  Where do you live?  What is the geography like?  Share pictures, magazines, photographs, postcards, etc. Show them pictures of your family and friends (if you are comfortable with this).  Show them what an 11 year old might be doing or what school is like.  Write key words on a board or piece of paper.  Use maps to find distance from Thailand to your hometown.  Take note of what countries you would travel over or through.  YOu can include other things like oceans, rivers, mountains, etc.  This will undoubtedly spark some discussion from which you can glean who your stronger English students are.   Do this kind of thing for more than one day.  You can ask them to write about what they like about Thailand or where they have traveled.  If they can't write it in English tell them to write in Thai or to draw a picture.  Trust me, this is not babyish.  Your subject matter is not juvenile, that's what makes the difference.

Next, bring in pictures and photographs of famous people and places around the world.  Ask them to name them and then write them on the board.  This also should spark some interest.  They can be pictures of current leaders of the world, pop stars, athletes, musicians, dead presidents, whatever.  Do the same with the land marks.  Then give a brief written description of each person or place.  When you are finished ask them to choose which person they would like to most meet or which place they would like to visit.  Ask them to explain why they made this choice and to write a brief explanation.  Focus on the conversational piece of it.

Text used with Conversation CorpsYou should focus on their interests even though they are different ages.  Google Translate is lovely and so is youtube.  Are you from Australia?  Why not show them pictures of your family and friends and introduce titles at the same time.  Then ask them to introduce their family and friends through titles.

You can provide a writing prompt every day.  There are many on the internet.  Make sure they each have a Thai/English dictionary.  Tell them that they can answer first in Thai and then translate it.  Writing prompts are high interest and usually involve their own opinions about something.

Find articles in the newspaper and use google translate to develop questions for you to give to them.  I think you are on the right track.  Play simple games together, like card games.  Remember every time you talk to them you are using English and displaying proper usage.  Do jigsaw puzzles together to talk about colors or landforms.  Have them create books of geographical land forms by looking for them in National Geographic or on line.  My students love this activity.  You can do it at the same time, using Thai. 

You can also focus on what they would need to know if they were to travel to an English-speaking country.  They would need to be able to ask for directions, order food, follow directions, take a bus, etc.  Ask them what they would like to know how to do and role play.

I have lots more ideas, Kieran.  Write me when you know more about the members of your group and the levels of English.  I can't wait to hear.

Betsy

If you have comments for this tutor on Conversation Corps-Spain, feel free to use the Comments section below.  This is an open community and we're all eager to learn.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Conversation Corps Thailand, Help Me Teach, Thailand

Help Me Teach Abroad--Teaching In Spain

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Sep 04, 2012

Each week, GeoVisions will post an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We are going to call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag boxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Hello,

I will be teaching 4 children from Spain. Two are 8 and 9. The other two are 14 and 15. I will be teaching them in different groups. I am getting my lesson plans from the ESL Lounge site that Geovisions has provides for free. My question is about the Teenagers. I'm not sure if I should pull from elementary, pre-intermediate, or intermediate for the teenagers. I have used the young learners lesson plan for the 8 and 9 year olds. This is my first time and could use any advice in preparing these accordingly to their ages.

Hi!

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am an ESL teacher in Connecticut. I teach Social Studies at the high school level and have many English-language learners in my room. Your trip sounds very exciting and very involved. I hope that you can appreciate the ages of the children you will be working with. All of them probably have some level of English under their belts. It will be your job to figure out which level to use in terms of lessons.

tutor teaching her host mom EnglishThis will not be a difficult task. You'll discover early on how much of a grasp they have on the language. They may have been taught formal English but are not able to use it in conversation. This is what makes your job so much fun. Your task is not to teach them formal English, but to have them concentrate on their conversational ability. Be aware of things like their use of idioms and their understanding of nuances in the language. This should give you a better understanding.

I would begin by introducing yourself. Bring pictures of your family and friends. Bring postcards or photos from your hometown. Share with the children what children, who are their ages, and from your home base do for fun. What is school like, activities, family life, etc. They will be interested. Share with them information about yourself. What do you like to do? Bring a cookbook from your home area. Show them some of your favorites. You can use the cookbook during your stay.Bring teen magazines with you.

Stay focused on the kids' interests. This allows for much more involvement from them. Try to base some of your activities on these interests. For your teenagers, think about things they might need to know if they were to visit an English-speaking nation. Have them role play different scenarios. Have them bring you into town and give you a tour in English. Have them order from a menu or shop in local stores. They can begin by doing it in Spanish but have them ease into English eventually.

As a whole group, you can prepare meals. Have them take turns choosing what they would like to make. Go to the market together, cook together and serve and clean up together. Let them teach you a few Spanish meals and vice versa. Take walks together and have them point things out to you. Tell them about schools in your area and then visit theirs. They can do comparison charts. They can do comparison charts for many things like the average day of a Spanish teenager vs. one from where you are from, foods, geography, sports, music, fashion, etc.

So, wait to see what level the kids are on before you start worrying about from where you should get your lesson. The ESL lounge has excellent ideas but be sure to move outside of formal lessons. I have a lot more ideas if you are interested. Please let me know how everything is going.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Betsy

Hi Betsy,

Well, it is very nice to meet you. I was an AmeriCorps VISTA and received all sorts of experience through running different programs through the Office of Civic Engagement for the University of Maine at Augusta. Not exactly teaching English, but it sure taught me a lot.

I think all those sound like great ideas. I have been working on a list of games, songs, and conversation pieces. I'm just confused now. So I shouldn't lesson plan at all until I get there and meet the kids? I will be there for two months and want to make sure they have the best time. Thank you so much for your help so far. And yes, the more help the better off I am. I do know that the Mother and father wishes the kids to be in seperate groups though too.

Hi again,

I wouldn't plan anything concrete until you know what they can do. Some ideas for any level are:

1. Writing prompts. There are a million of them on line. They can be high interest and personal. Most teenagers like to talk about themselves so they would probably enjoy this. You can also do this everyday.

Language entry in dictionary2. One of my favorite activities is to have the kids plan a fictional trip to the United States based on their own interests. So you set up the parameters and let them figure out the rest. For instance, if one of the teenagers is interested in sports, specifically skiing, you could tell them that they have to plan a three-week trip to the states. Where would they land? What resorts would they like to visit? What states would they travel through? How would they get from one place to another? How long would each leg of the journey be? How would they pack? etc, etc, etc. You get the idea. This is a research intensive project and can take several days. However, it can be modified according to ability and interest and so you could do it with all of the kids, even if you split them into two groups.

3. Make lists of idioms. Have the kids share idioms from their language with you and then you do the same. See how many you can come up with and have them add to it as your stay goes on. A true grasp of a second language means understanding the idioms.

If I were you, I would have a "bag of tricks" available to use if you are stuck. But, I think that you will be able to be much more affective if you can see what all of the kids like. Don't forget, you can do things like "movie night" with or without subtitles and you can read novels and short stories. But again, it all depends on ability.

I love Maine. Is that where you are from? I used to beg my daughters to apply to the University of Maine so that we had someplace cool to visit. And AmeriCorps is even cooler. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Betsy

If you have comments for this tutor on Conversation Corps-Spain, feel free to use the Comments section below.  This is an open community and we're all eager to learn.

Tags: Conversation Corps-Spain, Help Me Teach

Help Me Teach Abroad--Walk And Talk Spain

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Aug 29, 2012

Each week, GeoVisions will post an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We are going to call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag boxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Hello,

I am in the Walk and Talk Spain program for GeoVisions and I will be giving English lessons to a 2, 6, and 8 year old. The parents said they would like me to do a lot with arts and crafts. I have some ideas but I am not sure how to plan these lessons if I don't know what level these children are at. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

Hi Morgan,

I think your host parents are right on target in terms of learning English.  The good thing about your program is that it is not formal English and, as a result, allows you to have much more flexibility.  I would always stress less formal plans and lessons.  The children and you will enjoy it more, you will be more relaxed, and the kids won't even know that they are becoming more familiar with English.  And although the children are different ages much of what you do can be modified for their age and ability.

Walk and Talk Spain Tutor with her kidsStart by coloring and drawing.  Draw your favorite animal and ask them to do the same.  Share the word in English and in their native language.  Do the same thing with flowers, family members, toys, etc. Ask them to draw and name their family members,their neighborhood, anything that is relevant to them.  Take walks together and ask them to go home and draw what they saw after you point it out to them.  Use a sandbox or dirt box.  Trace letters in the sand with their fingers.  Build bird nests, crochet bracelets, try using beads with the oldest girl and teach her the different colors in English and different types of jewelry.

Another idea is to do some simple cooking.  This can be modified to any level from decorating cookies with the youngest to following some really simple recipes with the older two.  Popcorn is always good and may not be eaten very often in your new country.  You can also make necklaces with it and add dried berries for more color.  You can plan on cooking once a week. You can really make anything you want.  Bring a child's cookbook from your home country with you and have the kids pick out what they would like to make.  You can also reverse this and have the kids show you what their favorite foods are and how to prepare them.  Surprise the parents with a meal or snack that is prepared by you and the kids.  Remember anytime you are conversing with them you are using English and reinforcing its proper usage.

I would also bring with you one or two children's books.  I recommend Richard Scarry's Word Book or Eric Carles, Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  There books have captivating illustrations.  My own children used to spend hours poring over these books long after the recommended age.  Brown Bear can really give the kids a sense of accomplishment.  The Word Books are very detailed.  I know that luggage weight is an issue but these three books:  the cook book, the Word Book, and Brown Bear, I think, are well worth it.

Play games with the kids and don't forget to really introduce yourself to them.  Bring pictures of your family and some pictures of children from your hometown who are the same ages.  Let the kids see what children their age do in other parts of the world.  Even though they are young they are still interested in this new person living in their home.

I hope that these ideas help you get started.  I can't wait to hear more.

Betsy

If you have comments for this tutor on Walk and Talk, feel free to use the Comments section below.  This is an open community and we're all eager to learn.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Walk and Talk, Help Me Teach

Some Real Ideas To "Help Me Teach" Abroad

Posted by Global Work And Service Team on Thu, Jan 26, 2012

Language textGuest Post by
Betsy Bruneau
Help Me Teach Desk
GeoVisions

So, you are traveling to a new country to teach conversational English as a member of the Conversation Corps or as a Conversation Partner! What an opportunity. If you don't already know, soon you will learn where you are staying and the age of your "students." Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to cover while you are there.

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am a teacher of English language learners. I have worked with children of every age and have also taught adult education. And I also run the Help Me Teach desk here at GeoVisions. I'm here to help you with very particular issues. All of the help I provide during your program is specific to your own situation. Feel free to email me anytime.

I can honestly say that there are advantages for teaching every age. Even if you are working with students in a capacity that you did not expect, chances are you can find your niche with them. Remember to have fun. This is an adventure in teaching conversational English so it is less formal and the possibilities are endless.

If you are teaching children of any age, be sure to check with their parents and guardians to determine what they expect from your stay. You can do that even before you depart your home country. Often, they will want you to work on a specific skill in order to prepare their children for an upcoming task, test or visit to an English speaking area. If you are teaching adults, the same applies. Several of the tutors who are teaching adults right now are preparing them for a component of their job or an upcoming test.

The first couple of days may be awkward but try to imagine yourself welcoming a tutor into your own home. They will want to know a lot about you. So bring some personal affects with you. They will, most likely, be interested in seeing pictures of your family and friends. They will also want to see the region of the country from where you come. Bring postcards of places you have visited or pictures of your hometown. Bring American magazines and newspapers. If you are teaching teenagers, they would probably love to see more about how American or Canadian teenagers live. If they are interested in sports, music, art, etc., bring media that
focuses on that area.

a tutor a spainBe prepared to answer questions about your life here. They may want to know about government or politics. They may want to know what the fascination is with American sports or the Kardashians. There are so many possibilities. Be sure to brush up on the goings on of the country that you will be visiting. This will allow for some back and forth between you and your family and also reassure them that you are interested in their lives and their country.

A few years ago my family hosted a sixteen year old from Germany for the academic year. We spent the first couple of days just finding out about each other and sharing pictures. We talked about favorite meals, pastimes, hobbies, etc. We talked about the expectations that we had of each other. It was not awkward because we didn’t rush into anything. Try to take your host family’s lead. And when you arrive, arrive prepared to show your hosts that you are serious about this venture.

Most of all, have fun.

I hope to be hearing from you when you're on your project if you need any help.  And if you want to reach out before you depart, do that too.  I spend a lot of my time working with GeoVisions participants even before they leave for their assignment.  Don't be shy!

Tags: Conversation Partner, Conversation Corps, Help Me Teach

Join The Conversation Corps! Don't Zip Your Lip!

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Jan 03, 2012
GeoVisions' Conversation Corps logoGeoVisions founded the Conversation Corps in 2007.  The Conversation Corps is a program whereby you agree to live with a host family (currently we have host families eager to learn English in 22 countries) and teach them conversational English or help the children in the family with their English homework.  Or both.  But for doing this you get free room and board for 1, 2 or even 3 months.

Founding something like the Corps, we needed to be certain we provide a great deal of support to the hundreds of "live-in tutors" out there in so many different countries.  If you join the Corps, you can expect to find help anywhere you turn.

  • GeoVisions own text bookOur own text, "A Tutor's Guide--Teaching English To Families and Children," is available for download.  We do this because we want you to read it online and print the pages you really want to bring with you when you travel.  Plus, that keeps the program fee low and it's the "GREEN" thing to do this year.
  • Premium membership at the ESL Lounge.  Here you can download worksheets, games, flash cards, lesson plans…you name it.  You can use this service before you go and while you're with your host family and it's completely free.
  • Blog posts tagged Help Me Teach.  These posts are actual emails from our tutors abroad who write with very specific questions concerning some really unique situations.  In these Help Me Teach posts, we provide the email from the tutor and the response from Betsy, our ESL teacher, who mans the Help Me Teach Desk.
  • Help Me Teach is a service we offer, normally with 24 hour turn around.  If you have a unique situation with the family and need some highly specific ideas to make your lessons go better, simply write your email to helpmeteach@geovisions.org.  Betsy will respond with tailor-made suggestions, and coming from an ESL teacher, you can rest assured the suggestions are helpful.
And because host families are more interested in conversation rather than grammar, lessons can be lots of fun.  And of course, it is impossible to stay away from Colloquialisms--those informal (almost slang) phrases we take for granted in the U.S.  If you are having a meal with your host family you might just blurt out, "That meal was great but we're going to need a lot of elbow grease to clean the plates." Your hosts may look at you as if you have 12 heads.

Language in many other countries is more formal and sometimes have a lot of usage rules.  In English (especially conversational English) native speakers will easily lapse into informal English, and that is when the fun begins.
Sometimes Colloquialisms are geographical in the U.S.  In the Northeast we "take" someone to the movies.  In some places in the south they "carry" that same person to the movies.

We thought it would be fun to list the Colloquialisms our tutors have written to us about, which have created the most laughter at a family dinner table or in an informal class. We would love for you to add your own in our comments section below.  As you read the Colloquialisms below (highlighted in red) imagine people listening to you who have no knowledge of these everyday, informal phrases and imagine the look on their faces when they hear:
  • I guess we'll have to browbeat you to go with us.
  • I just dumped my sweetheart.
  • I just got a serious tongue-lashing.
  • Don't buy him a beer, he's a hothead.
  • When I looked out they were necking at the front door.
  • I just don't want her to badmouth me.
  • I just had a brainstorm.
  • Wow! What a brownnose.
  • American slangHe is very headstrong.
  • Can you believe that egghead? (knucklehead, numbskull)
  • What a great belly laugh.
  • I think she just gave me the evil eye.
  • We're going to have to knuckle under.
  • Her hope chest is large.
  • Have you ever seen a one-armed bandit?
  • Keep a stiff upper lip.
  • People are different in this neck of the woods.
  • She's a bleeding heart.
  • You're skin and bones.
  • Give me a little elbow room, will ya?
  • It happened in the blink of an eye.
  • Now I have to go face the music.
  • You are going to have to toe the line.
  • I'd rather meet face to face.
  • We went toe-to-toe over that.
  • That stone is like a baby's bottom.
  • When they questioned us, I got fingered.
  • She broke my heart. (She must have a heart of stone.)
  • You are a sight for sore eyes.
  • Just made it by the skin of my teeth.
  • You are the apple of my eye.
  • He has no stomach for it.
  • I'm having a bad hair day.
  • Zip your lip.
  • Just eyeball it.
  • Can I have that last ear of corn?
Language is fun.  And using Colloquialisms can lead to some great lessons around a dinner table or in a classroom.  And a lot of laughter.  As a former teacher, I found when you combine laughter and a lesson...the lesson is rarely forgotten.

So what do you say?  Don't get all up in arms about it.   That new Colloquialism is right on the tip of your tongue.  You can write it in a comment box in the blink of an eye.  Go ahead, I've got your back.

Tags: Conversation Corps, Help Me Teach

Evil Eye, Belly Laugh, Hope Chest: Conversation Partners Have Fun

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, May 18, 2010

Conversation Partner logoConversation Partners and members of the Conversation Corps teach conversational English.  Over time, we have found that organizations requesting GeoVisions Conversation Partners are more interested in conversational English than formal English or grammar.

That of course makes it impossible to stay away from Colloquialisms--those informal (almost slang) phrases we take for granted in the U.S.  If you are having a meal with your host family you might just blurt out, "That meal was great but we're going to need a lot of elbow grease to clean the plates." Your hosts may look at you as if you have 12 heads.

Language in many other countries is more formal and sometimes have a lot of usage rules.  In English (especially conversational English) native speakers will easily lapse into informal English, and that is when the fun begins.

Sometimes Colloquialisms are geographical in the U.S.  In the Northeast we "take" someone to the movies.  In some places in the south they "carry" that same person to the movies.

We thought it would be fun to list the Colloquialisms our tutors have written to us about, which have created the most laughter at a family dinner table or in an informal class. We would love for you to add your own in our comments section below.  As you read the Colloquialisms below (highlighted in red) imagine people listening to you who have no knowledge of these everyday, informal phrases and imagine the look on their faces when they hear:

  • I guess we'll have to browbeat you to go with us.
  • I just dumped my sweetheart.
  • I just got a serious tongue-lashing.
  • Don't buy him a beer, he's a hothead.
  • When I looked out they were necking at the front door.
  • I just don't want her to badmouth me.
  • I just had a brainstorm.
  • Wow! What a brownnose.
  • He is very headstrong.
  • Can you believe that egghead? (knucklehead, numbskull)
  • What a great belly laugh.
  • I think she just gave me the evil eye.
  • We're going to have to knuckle under.
  • Her hope chest is large.
  • Have you ever seen a one-armed bandit?
  • Keep a stiff upper lip.
  • People are different in this neck of the woods.
  • She's a bleeding heart.
  • You're skin and bones.
  • Give me a little elbow room, will ya?
  • It happened in the blink of an eye.
  • Now I have to go face the music.
  • You are going to have to toe the line.
  • I'd rather meet face to face.
  • We went toe-to-toe over that.
  • That stone is like a baby's bottom.
  • When they questioned us, I got fingered.
  • She broke my heart. (She must have a heart of stone.)
  • You are a sight for sore eyes.
  • Just made it by the skin of my teeth.
  • You are the apple of my eye.
  • He has no stomach for it.
  • I'm having a bad hair day.
  • Zip your lip.
  • Just eyeball it.
  • Can I have that last ear of corn?

Language is fun.  And using Colloquialisms can lead to some great lessons around a dinner table or in a classroom.  And a lot of laughter.  As a former teacher, I found when you combine laughter and a lesson...the lesson is rarely forgotten.

So what do you say?  Don't get all up in arms about it.   That new Colloquialism is right on the tip of your tongue.  You can write it in a comment box in the blink of an eye.  Go ahead, I've got your back.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Teach Abroad, Conversation Corps, Help Me Teach