You have to want it.
You have to really want it.
I enjoy working with people who want to be worked on. I enjoy working with people who want to see progress – positive progress and change and transformation – whether that be academically, holistically, in their careers, or all the above!
My favourite clients and students are those who come to each lesson prepared, having completed whatever homework they were set and keen to learn more in that next session.
These are the type of clients who make me want to become more creative in my teaching and delivery to share my knowledge in a way that makes most sense to them; in a way where they truly learn and develop.
But what happens when you don’t really really want it? What happens when you work with somebody who isn’t so keen for change or transformation because they are too young, immature or haven’t been taught to understand the value of what they are learning?
I have a young student who really dislikes English.
‘How can I make it [learning/change/transformation] fun?’ is the question I constantly have to ask myself.
In response to this, last year, rather than studying English through stories and poems that relate to nothing in particular, we studied World War One where we learned about the trenches, stink gas, toes that fell off due to frost-bite and Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. Now, as I’m sure you can imagine, this blood, gore and gruesomeness was a good way to entice a young ten-year-old boy to engage in English in a different way. Through this, we created our own war poems, wrote pained letters to panicked parents from the trenches, and altogether immersed ourselves in a century’s old history.
Now, the next stage in our learning could have been to skip a decade or two to World War Two…but I could see his enthusiasm and sympathy for war waning. So, what next?
Well, it took a month or two of going through the mundane, conventional teaching strategies – bums on seats, worksheets on comprehension, verbal reasoning etc. – for me to realise I needed to get creative again to reengage his young, distracted brain.
Scrabble! I introduced Scrabble this week on Thursday and it was a winner. For just over thirteen pounds, it was well worth it. Now you may wonder how Scrabble can be a real teaching game. Here are just three reasons:
- He is learning how to spell. He’s deterred from carelessly placing words with incorrect spelling on the board because to do so means he doesn’t get the points so (although this does not fit with conventional Scrabble rules) he has a dictionary beside him that he can refer to at times.
- He is learning new vocabulary. I added a few words to the board that he didn’t have a clue were real words, e.g. quays, yam and trope. He picked up his dictionary to discover their meaning (his word-search skills also need work) and I helped him find their meanings. I appreciate he won’t remember every single new word after just one viewing, but over time and with repetition, he’ll get there.
- He is learning…ENGLISH IS FUN! Our second lesson was supposed to run from 10h10 to 11h. A few minutes after eleven o’clock, I mentioned that he had missed his break, but he was so determined to finish the game (he’s a golfer so quite competitive) we didn’t finish that game until 11h36! Bless him.
As a bonus, he also had a little bit of a Math lesson combined with English during Scrabble. As you can see, he had to tackle some tough mental addition with two-digit and three-digit numbers, and he did it without complaint! Amazing, huh?
Well, I’ll let you know how long this enthusiasm lasts…
What learning tricks do you use to engage your young ones or even yourself? I’d love to trial these in ‘round three’ learning with my students if you have any!
Thanks for reading! Come back next week…same time, same place 😉
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