Thank you for your report on your first meeting with Sergei. It was
good to read it, and the responses to it. Recycle, recycle seems the
way to go. And using Scott's Crusoe scenario, "There's that damned
parrot again" and "Shall we cut across the beach or go round the
lagoon?" can be recycled as is, and can be expanded and reduced to such
things as, "There's that damned bee again." "Shall we (do it) again."
and so on and on.
> What's a bit eerie about teaching one-to-one with a total beginner is
> that there is (in S's
> case, at least) no other source for the language than me.
Do you mean you are the only source of the (English) lesson content?
My experience in a similar 1-2-1 situation is that the situation we are
in supplies the content and I put the English to it (like you did when
climbing the stairs, and with the bee). Or the student provides the
content (probably in response to a question from me such as about
hobbies, or heavy engineering, or what he did yesterday evening. . .)
With a beginner, I probably have to ask the question in both native
language and English, and the student probably responds in his native
language. I translate (which I know you don't fancy!) all or some of
his response into English if I think it is useful, or if it recycles
something we did before. Because basic English items are by definition
high-frequency, items like "again" and "Shall we" and things in the
immediate environment (parrots, beaches and lagoons for Crusoe and
Friday; bees, stairs, cups of coffee and homework tapes for you guys)
appear and get recycled over and over. I'm very careful, especially at
the beginning, to limit the English input to what he can understand and
handle, but after a few hours when the recycling starts seriously
kicking in, there begins to be exponential growth in the English he can
understand and use.
All the best for "lesson 2!"