This week a tutor asked me about managing conversation time during lessons. I wanted to share our exchange with tutors who may have had a similar experience. Her message begins this way:
Questions_Concerns: She really likes to talk. I love having conversations with her, and I think it is a beneficial exercise, but she seems less invested in the actual lessons than just plain conversation. I'm afraid that I haven't been following a formal lesson plan as much as I'd like to because I'm afraid to come off as disinterested in talking and getting to know her better. For those students that are very friendly and enjoy building relationships, how do you balance lessons and getting to know one another?Here is my response to her:
I enjoyed reading your monthly feedback. About your question, ‘How do you balance lessons and getting to know one another?’ I have an idea or two. First of all, it’s great that you have the kind of rapport that allows comfortable conversation. How do you balance that with the need to work on specific language skills? I propose that you turn that fact to your advantage by sharing the lesson plan with her. You can begin by writing up a lesson plan or maybe even typing it up on your computer. I’ve attached a lesson plan blank for you in case you want to use that format. Put it out on the table between you when you tutor and move down the plan, checking things off as you accomplish them. The lesson plan, then, becomes the program of the day’s action. Doing this gets you both on the same page, figuratively and literally. You’re working together to accomplish the plan. Somewhere near the beginning of the process you and Fabiola can negotiate how much of that plan will involve conversation. Decide together—will it take 10 minutes? 30 minutes? You are both adults, and you’ve already mentioned that she is assertive at expressing herself in English. Introduce the plan with your best, most positive salesperson voice. ‘Look! I’ve made a plan. Let’s talk about what’s in the plan. Is this enough time for grammar? Is this enough time for us to make conversation?’ and so on. You’re lucky to have a learner with some confidence and interest in making English conversation. I hope this idea helps you to work together with your learner
Thanks to Karen Ellis, Favorite Tutor of the Week .