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AnonymousWoman's avatar

What should I focus on while helping a Korean woman understand and speak English better?

Asked by AnonymousWoman (6523points) December 20th, 2011

I met up with this woman today. She’s really sweet and her English is pretty good for someone who is new to the English language, but she still feels that there is room for improvement. She came to the country I live in to take an ESL course at a college here and she wants help with improving her English. How can I help her be more confident with speaking our language?

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9 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Are you going to commit to a regular time slot? PIck any topic that interests her; start a simple conversation.

Have her keep a notebook. Make several corrections or suggestions per session.

At the next lesson, review what she worked on. Then pick another simple topic.

I did this for three years with a lovely older Russian woman. (When we got stuck, we used our French as the lingua franca.)

It’s pretty straightforward. Keep it lighthearted. Be willing to act, dance, sing, and draw pictures. Don’t get technical.

AshlynM's avatar

Speak more slowly than you normally would. Try not to use any slang or incorrect grammar. Tell her to avoid phrasesbooks, but to check out language cd’s at the library.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@gailcalled We have quite a bit of time before she has to go back to her country in the coming year as she’s not attending school at the moment. I’m not sure how regularly we will see each other, but we will definitely meet again for more conversations. I like your notebook suggestion. I wish I had thought of it myself! Your advice to be lighthearted is also very good! Thank you so much. :)

@AshlynM Thank you for your advice, too! Great ideas. :)

gailcalled's avatar

Afterthought: You mentioned in another question that you get bored rather easily and you have trouble meeting long-term commitments.

Do not offer to help and then back off when it is inconvenient or not as fascinating as you had thought or hoped during your initial encounter.

Once you commit, you are honor-bound to continue. Every job has its down moments and nothing is fascinating every second.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^ This is different (as it it is meant to be casual and friendly and I am more comfortable with that), but your advice is good for other situations anyway. :)

CWOTUS's avatar

It could also be enjoyable to watch television and movies together, and let her operate the remote to stop the action and ask “What was that?”, “What did that mean?” and “Why did he say that?”

(Hell, that’s how I watch British movies anyway…)

gailcalled's avatar

Another trick, if TV and movie dialogs are too complicated, is to read children’s’ books. I have a collection of my kids’; they come in handy, particularly since they are illustrated.

@CWOTUS: I use that technique to improve my French. I just watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly twice; once for the story line and the second time for the language.

6rant6's avatar

My family attended a language school in Mexico years ago. I had no Spanish in school, so I was kind of behind the curve.

Friday of the first week, they paired us with a native Spanish speaker who wanted to learn English! We talked 45 minutes in Spanish, and 45 in English. I’ve been on stage, I’ve worked under terrible deadlines, I’ve had to fire people, but nothing compares to the stress I felt in that first session!

What kept me going was there were things about living in Mexico that I really wanted to understand. So as long we were talking about things that interested me, I kept my head in the game.

So my advice is to find out what it is your Korean friend most wants to know about.

Another story…

We had a couple of French exchange students at our house way back. The first night, I asked them what they were most __afraid__ of in the US. They said the police. So I arranged for them to go on a police ride-along. I’m not saying that you should set your friend up this way, but talking about the things she’s afraid of in the US would probably keep her involved.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is a great question.

If you know what it is she wants to study in the coming years when she’s learning English, I would introduce her to those subjects now. Use as many different formats as you can to get messages across: books, TV, movies, YouTube, other Internet sites.

If you can, preview what you’re going to show her and make a list of quick questions about what she’s going to read, see, hear, or experience.

That bit is key. You start each “lesson” with preview questions. If she can answer them correctly afterward, then you’ve each succeeded.

Best of luck to you.

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