to tutor a private
English student at intermediate high level -
Contact time: once a week for one hour
my time in Taiwan I've had the joy of tutoring adults who want to
improve their English. By the time they reach intermediate high level
already spend a number of years using different textbooks memorizing
vocabulary and grammar rules, but not much time practically using it.
My method is to expose them to real-life
English that is interesting and useful. Everybody has their
favorite sitcom or series, and everybody likes to watch their favorite
episodes over and over. I let my student choose an English television
that they like or that is applicable to their line of work. A physical
therapist, nurse or doctor can, for example,choose a series like Grey's
Anatomy. I then let them choose a 10 minute segment for every week.
2 for the price of of 1
emphasize to my students that "our" time should only count for less
that 50% of their total learning time. As I have also found with my own
language learning using private tutors, if you don't review what you
learned at least a few times, you will waste a lot of time and money.
They should spend at least one hour previewing, preparing, correcting and reviewing
on their own for every hour "we" spend together. I understand how work
and life can keep us busy, it's sometimes hard to find an hour during
the week, that's why I suggest to split the time up in three or more
20-minute time slots. Much more effective and not so tiring. I make my
little joke " you get two hours of
English for the price of one! :) "
The fantastic 4 method.
Language learning has four aspects.
Listening, reading, speaking and writing. Here is how I incorporate all
four when I tutor:
Preview and review, private time. - 10 minutes
The first ten minutes the
student spends watching the video clip of the week(without subtitles).
Of course there will be words and phrases they won't understand. That
is fine! The goal is to identify the words and phrases that will
be mastered in the week. They e-mail me the video clip or the name and
timestamps. I also watch it.
Preview, private time. - 10 minutes.
Most series' subtitles can
easily be downloaded at sites likes subscene.com.
It's great because you can use the timestamps to find the exact words
in the video clip. After watching the video clip, the student should
read the subtitles aloud and note the words and sentences they don't
understand. It works best to print it out and use a pencil to circle
all the new words and make notes.
Preparation , private time - 20+ minutes
I then ask them to write about
what happened in the video clip. Describe the people, their emotions,
sequence of events etc. As if they're writing to somebody that hasn't
seen the clip. They can also watch the clip again with subtitles.
Preview, private time - 10 minutes
Students then practice telling
the story to themselves, a friend, a family member, a pet, anyone!
Speaking - Contact time - 20+ minutes
When we meet they tell me what
happened in the clip, like a story! They can refer to their notes if
necessary. I give them some feedback on their written work, they make
notes to correct it later and them e-mail it to me during the week.
Reading - Contact time - 10+
They read aloud the corrected
writing assignment of the previous week. We make sure they understand
and speaking - Contact time
- 10+ minutes
I choose about 10 words of
phrases from the clip that I think they might not understand. I test
them to see if they do. They should explain to me what it means, if
they can not, I explain it to them.
reading - Contact time -
The student asks questions
about the new clip. If they don't have any specific questions we go
through the subtitles together and discuss. We also discuss the
previous week's grammar and pronunciation corrections.
Correcting, private time 10 minutes
I send the student the
corrected writing assignmet to be re-written.
Review, private time - 10 minutes
The student watches the video
clip again, but this time understanding more! (without subtitles)
speaking - Correcting, private time - 10 minutes
During our contact time I
record the whole session. I then listen for any grammar or
pronunciation mistakes at home and make a list of short sentences for
the student to practice reading aloud. I send it to them via e-mail.
time: Listening 30 + Reading 40 + Speaking 50 + Writing 30 = 150 minutes
What I like most about using a
Television series is that it's interesting and uses English in a way
that people really talk. In Grey's anatomy, for example, students can
learn a huge amount of medical terms. It's also great because within a
series they are likely to use the same vocabulary and way of speaking
again and again, so words and phrases from previous lessons are
Let's improve our
Usages of "crap" in English
realized that the word "crap" is used in many different ways,
especially in movies and sitcoms.
To non-native speakers these usages can be
at a few examples:
= feces (poo poo)
me like crap.
Don't treat me
with so much disrespect. Don't treat me so impolitely.
Don't pull that crap on me.
Don't try to fool me. Don't try to trick me. Don't
lie to me.
The crap you pull every day.
Every day you do things wrong but you are not caught
Every day you do things that are dishonest.
You make me feel like crap.
You make me feel very bad about myself. You make me
feel as if I'm worth nothing.
O no! Wow! O gosh! ( used when a mistake is
realized that will have bad consequences)
Stop talking crap.
Stop talking nonsense. Stop lying to me.
I'll beat the crap out of you.
I will hit you very hard repeatedly.
I'll shoot the crap out of you.
I will shoot you many so times you will surely be
He scared the crap out of me.
He gave me a very big fright. He almost scared me to
Wow! Amazing! ( Used when you see something that is
bigger or more that you expected )
That's a crap joke.
That is a very bad joke. That joke is not funny at
That's a crap excuse.
That is a very bad excuse. I do not accept your
I'm tired of eating his crap.
1. I'm tired of doing things that he tells me to do.
2. I'm tired of listening to his lies and excuses.
Confusing English Phrases
Non-native English speakers
often find phrases and words that do not make sense: It may be because
some phrases have different meanings in different situations or..
It may be because the phrase
has an indirect meaning.
Let's look at a few examples:
1. Let's change the place we
live in, let's move to another place.
2. Let's start doing what we
planned to do.
1. Put your hand over something
and close it.
2. Wait a moment.
1. Let's move in a direction.
2. Let's leave this place and
go somewhere else.
3. Let's starting doing
You have no
1. You don't know of my
experiences, so you I don't think you understand how I feel.
2. You cannot be certain of something unless you prove it.
Your ass is on the line.
1. You are responsible and if
you make a mistake you will get in big trouble.
called before the chief.
1. You have to go to the chief
to explain something or report on something.
clear this with her?
1. Did you tell her all the
details and get her permission?
1. Although it seemed hard to
do, I had enough skill and experience to succeed easily.
this on her.
1. Don't put this thing on her
2. Don't blame her for what
happened, don't make her responsible for the outcome.
1. We have talked enough, we
are not going to talk anymore.
1. Have you found what you are
looking for ?
2. Have you accomplished what
you planned to do ?
1. Are you going to be
2. Are you able to finish the
She had an
errand to run.
1. She had something to do.
if you can spot these phrases: Greys
Anatomy Season 1 episode 5, 15:00 - 25:00.
English Phrases using body
- He's got his head in the clouds.
- - He thinks he is better than others. He is too proud.
- He is arrogant.
- Don't be so nosy!
- -Don't ask so many questions!
- I'll keep an ear on the ground.
- - I'll tell you if I hear of any useful information
regarding your problem.
- I'll keep an eye on him.
- - I'll watch him. I'll take care of him.
- He is a real pain in the neck.
- - He is very irritating. He bothers me a lot.
- A weight has been lifted of my
- - A problem that caused me stress was resolved. Something
that has troubled me is resolved.
- I caught him red handed.
- - I caught him while he was doing something wrong.
- Do you need a hand?
- - Do you need any help?
- Give me a hand please.
- - Help me please.
- My heart goes out to her.
- - I feel very sorry for her.
- My hands are tied, sorry.
- - There is nothing I can do to help you, sorry. Because of
some rules I cannot help you any further.
- I've got a gut feeling.
- - I think I know what is going to happen but I can't prove
- We need to get a foot in the
- - We need to find an opportunity to get started with a
- I stood there with my foot in my
- - During a conversation I said something wrong that
worsened the situation.
- I need to find my feet.
- - I need to get used to my new environment. I need to get
- It's gonna cost me an arm and a
- - It's gonna cost me a lot of money.
- Break a leg!
- - Do you best! Win!
- I'm pulling your leg.
- - I'm only joking with you. I not telling the truth, I'm
lying to be funny.
- Stop pulling my leg, be serious!
- -Stop joking with me, be serious!
- Let's shake a leg.
- - Let's get moving! Let's start! Let's do it quickly!