Last night I had a great lesson with two of my newest students, a husband and wife. He is a Japanese engineer and she is a Chinese housewife. They are a very nice couple and get along very well during the class. Their participation is great. They are beginners but I am convinced they will move up fast. Last night we covered “Past 1”, which is a simple past tense. I always have to remind myself that past tense is perhaps the most difficult part of English due to the majority of verbs being irregular in transformation. My wife, who teaches children at another school suggested that we make a CD of irregular verbs for the students to listen and repeat. I have given that to a few of my students but it really is needed by all. I also have a list of verbs organized into groups which make similar transformations in terms of pronunciation. I highly recommend a lot of work on past tense and the students should be encouraged always to review what they have done that day in order to force them to use past tense.
Well, getting back to the interesting part of this lesson. It is really great to have two people of differing nationalities in the class. You can see how the similarities in syntax between Chinese and English help a Chinese student of English, especially in case of beginners. The wife never makes an error with the word order but the husband struggles with this often. This difference will fade with more time and practice. It is interesting to see the progress of students. It gives us great satisfaction as coaches of communicative confidence. Well, back to work. I have a trial student today. Wish me luck.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)