I had a high level student the other evening. Since this student had been with us for nearly 10 years, he had gone through most of the curriculum more than once, but as he told us a while ago, English is one of his hobbies and he is just happy to be able to chat.
I noticed his previous one-point jotted down in his lesson report. When he walked into my classroom, I told him that I ran into Watanabe Ken at Keihan Mall before coming to work. He didn’t disappoint me after a few seconds’ hesitation, and said “you are pulling my leg!” with a big grin on his face.
Since this student had done all the routines many times, I decided to just go through routine 9 (Finnegan’s Bar) questions and do some bridging practice. This went well as he knew the drill and was very familiar with the 10 questions, plus he goes to a bar almost every week!
While it was always nice and easy to have an open conversation with this student, I thought it would be good for him to learn the usages of some common phrases. I had 5 verb phrases from the phrase lesson, and lay them out on the table for my student. I expected him to know most of them, but I knew that he’d have a hard time trying to use them in conversations. Sure enough, he was able to tell me the Japanese translation of them straight away, but barely managed to give me an example sentence. “fall on hard times” was an extremely difficult one for him, but when I brought up a certain company that has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately as a hint, he quickly organized the sentence.
“Pick up” was another phrase that we focused on in the lesson. The student knew 2 usages, but had heard about some of the other usages during his listening practice in his own time. During the lesson, he asked if I could give him a list of the usages of this phrase, which I was happy to do, and we came up with about 10 of them: pick oneself up, be picked up by the police, pick up a skill, pick up an illness, pick up a signal, pick up a topic, pick up trends, business will pick up, pick up the pieces…
Once you get the hang of it, it is easy! I asked my student if he could play Kendama, a traditional Japanese toy. I told him that I found it rather difficult but once I got the hang of it, it was easy! Our conversation went on for another 5 minutes on childhood entertainment, although it was a bit over time but I was happy to chat.