I posted this today on English Classroom 2.0 in response to a teacher who was having trouble tutoring a boy who only wanted to talk about his favourite cartoon character in Chinese. Perhaps something in my reply might be helpful to others having similar problems.
It seems there is a more fundamental issue here - WHY are you tutoring him? If he doesn't want it, then you should speak to his parents and determine whether they are the ones that want him to learn rather than the boy himself. As they say "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
If you really do want to persist with him, and assuming what you are offering meets his needs and is of interest to him, then I'd suggest you start pretending you don't speak Chinese, and refuse to talk to him in anything other than English. Since he is in Grade 6, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to follow you if he's already had a few years of lessons at school.
You could use the cartoon as a talking point - but only in English. Ask him questions about what happens, the names of characters, what they look like, their personalities/interests/friends etc, some of the stories. Once you have some answers from him, you can use these to build up his vocabulary e.g. feelings, colours, hobbies, actions, etc. You may be able to put together some basic stories using the characters for him to read and, in time, he might be able to write his own stories. Later it may be possible to introduce other cartoons or folk tales etc. that have similar story lines. He could subsequently write to an English-speaking friend (pen pal) about his interests and build a broader range of conversations from there. If you have Internet access there are lots of resources to create your own cartoons or better, for him to do so.
Good luck with this challenging student,"
Greg Quinlivan said…
Perhaps part of what we are doing as teachers is not just squeezing the life out of something, but wanting something the students don’t necessarily want themselves.
When I think about myself I realise that I am also occasionally guilty of wanting an outcome, wanting closure, and wanting it NOW.
Those are my needs, not theirs.
The child sloshing around with their water paints, the one pulling apart a bug, the one playing tea parties, and the one tinkering around on the piano are each doing things that meet their needs.
How do we react? We tend to rush around finding equipment to clean up the mess, we tell them to get serious, we tell them to play OUR tune, and we tell them to hurry up so that our needs are met. But, are they really?
As you say, we run the risk of throttling the life out of their imagination, their creativity, their curiosity and their thoughts, which are precisely the things we want them to develop.
Finding space for this in a crowded curriculum and with conflicting expectations from others in the learning community will not be a simple task. But, it will be worthwhile for building the drive for life-long learning in those entrusted to us.
Thank you for reminding me of the care I need to take as the intruder in the classroom.
May 17, 2010
Posted at http://kalinago.blogspot.com/2010/05/squeezing-joy-out-of-thing.html