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       Авторская методика:
индивидуальное обучение в группе учащихся (c 1991г.)

OUR APPROACH (наша методика)

Giving individual tuition in small groups

Alexander Scopintsev

It’s common knowledge that there is a problem of teaching gifted and at-risk students in the same group. Gifted students need less time to learn new material, while learning the same material takes at-risk students much longer time. In this situation, a teacher has to teach his students “at a moderate speed”, using the golden mean. But it results in slowing down the progress of gifted students (in such lessons, they are usually bored out of their skull) and preventing at-risk students from learning new educational material more slowly but qualitatively.

There is a way out of the situation. An English lesson can be given in an absolutely different way. It can turn into individual tuition that each student in a group can get even in public school. It is as follows: during a lesson each student is doing an English drill that he needs. Such English drills are recorded on CDs. A student listens to a Russian sentence, then he translates this sentence orallyinto English and then listens to the right answer that is spoken by a native speaker. All Russian and English sentences are recorded on CDs and printed in students’ exercise books. It gives a student an opportunity to check his sentences, comparing what he has said with the right answer that is recorded on his CD, and make corrections. Students do such oral exercises in English grammar, vocabulary, texts, grammatical constructions and clich?s, phonetics and so on.

While all students are doing such English drills, working on some specific grammatical material or vocabulary, developing their habits of speaking, oral comprehension, pronunciation, etc., their teacher can work with one student, giving him some task, for example, some topic for discussion. The student starts speaking English on this topic. The teacher listens to him, writes down his mistakes, and asks him additional questions. At the end of the student’s speaking, the teacher explains the student’s problems to him and asks him to do an English drill on some specific theme which is a problem for this student. Then the teacher starts listening to another student, and in this way, the teacher works individually with each student in turn. As a result, each student speaks English constantly all the time during such a lesson: he speaks English either with his teacher or by doing an English drill. His speech is under control all the time: when a student speaks with his teacher, the latter controls his speech, and when the student does an English drill, he has an opportunity to compare what he has said with the right answer that is recorded on CD and is printed in his exercise book, thus controlling his speech.

To give such a lesson, a teacher would need to have a CD or DVD player for each student and the above mentioned English drills in grammar, vocabulary, texts and so on.

This way of teaching English gives a teacher an opportunity to teach each student individually. Now a teacher and his student can afford to work on some specific educational material until it is mastered, and only after that they can start working on another theme. They don’t depend on some “moderate” plan any more.

This approach to teaching English helps students master a foreign language within a shorter time as students speak English all the time during such a lesson. Research in this field shows that during a traditional lesson each student on average says from 17 to 35 sentences that are under control in a group of 6-8 students within 90 minutes. The method of Individual Tuition in a Group of Students allows each student to say more than two hundred sentences within the same time in the same group. The difference is evident.

I also would like to touch upon another important question: retention of new information. I think all teachers know a classic case that often occurs: a teacher has explained in detail some new material to his students, spelled it out explicitly for them, given many examples, and the students seem to have understood and retained the new material and even can say a sentence or two, using this rule. However, in the next lesson everything disappears and they seem to know nothing! What a shame!

But students shouldn’t be blamed for that. Such cases can be accounted for by the peculiarities of our nervous system. The fact is that every person gets a lot of information every day through the Internet, TV, radio, books and so on. If our nervous system assimilated all this information, we would only live 3 to 5years and then die from strain. That is why our nervous system has the so-called “safety device” which limits the volume of information that a person assimilates. Only the information that is often used can “break through” this safety device of our nervous system.

Some researches reveal that only words that “go through” our nervous system 17 to 29 times can become active vocabulary. In other words, a student needs to hear some word and use it in his speech, writing, and reading 17 – 29 times to make it a part of his active vocabulary. This can also be applied to grammatical rules.

In practice, it means that a student needs to say hundreds of sentences on some grammatical theme or vocabulary to master it thoroughly, and the above-mentioned English drillls on CDs help to solve this problem too as a student has an opportunity to do English drills in class and at home as many times as he personally needs to master this or that material. This way of learning English gives an opportunity to a student to pass over from “the level of knowing a rule” to “the level of mastering it”.

I would like to point out that this approach to teaching English can be used not only in private school but in public school as well.

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