English as a Second Language/Teaching Method Ideas?


Hi Brian,

I hope this e-mail finds you well, and I also hope that you are able to help me out.

I have an English speaking student who wants to learn Arabic. So far, I've developed excellent lessons where we've been exploring the alphabet and the inflections and such.

However, we've been stuck with the conversation/speaking aspect of the class. I've been trying to figure out ways to help build this aspect in the class, but I honestly have no clue.

Her knowledge of Arabic, on a scale from 1 to 5, would be 1.5 at best.

I'm just wondering what activities or lessons we could do together to help her practice and develop her ability to speak and discuss?

In our first three classes I did give her a list of phrases she could use, but even then it's not enough. She wants to know how to actually have/make conversation and I'm trying to find a way to build that.

From your own experience of teaching a second language what methods did you find work best when developing this part of the classes?

Any and all advice would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

Best regards,


Conversation skills is primarily what I teach.  A lot of it depends on the students specific goals.  For instance, do they want to use it for travelling?  Are they going to live in the country?  Do they know some Arabic speaking people in their own country?

However, there are some pretty universal basics that I use.  One is BPUs.  BPUs are basically sentences or questions used when one is having difficult in a conversation.  Some very basic ones (which you might have already taught) are things like:

"What did you say?"
"Sorry, I can't/don't understand/catch what you said."
"Please say that again."

One common pattern I have all my students practice is:

1. Did you say ___?
2. What does that mean?
3. How do you spell that?

But also, I ask students what they would like to be able to ask, and also what kind of questions they think they will be asked #for instance, at the airport#.

Hope that helps!

English as a Second Language

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Brian Connelly


I can answer pretty much any question a student might have about English; about grammar, vocabulary, meanings of words, phrases, expressions or idioms, pronunciation, etc. I can answer questions about how to learn or study English better, how to improve certain aspects of communication (listening, writing, speaking, etc), about why we have certain rules.


I've been teaching English in Japan, mainly as a private (one-to-one) teacher, but also at companies such as Universal Studios or international airports. I have taught professional interpreters and translators and I have also taught students who dropped out of high school and never learned any English. Several years ago I acquired the CELTA and I have been running my own classroom for the past year.

None in particular, but I work with a number of companies who regularly introduce me to new students and occasionally to other companies that are looking for English teachers.


Past/Present Clients
I currently have approximately 40 individual students with whom I work one on one. I have also worked with local manufacturing companies, colleges, local retailers, as well as Sharp, Universal Studios, Itami International Airport, Kobe International Airport

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