Any advice for teaching a family english class?

Please help. I need suggestions on how to teach a class of about 5 families. Eeach family consists of the parents and their kids. Everybody’s english is begginner level (kids learning ABC’s and parents probably have some very simple vocabulary). Kid’s are in grades 2-4.

Your kind help and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

My e-mail:

You can post a reply anytime - this class will start in about a month - but even after it starts, I would appreciate any suggestions.

I know how to teach English, but how to teach a class where families with their kids attend, is mind tricky. Who should I focus on, the kids? Should I use specific English subjects? What disadvantages will arise, and should I look out for? What advantages will I have, and should I take advantage of? What should I mainly focus on?

If you get the point. Any ideas?

I’m not a teacher, but if it were me, I’d be watching very very carefully that I didn’t get my arse kicked by an angry dad with no face when the inevitable happens and the kids start surpassing their parents. I’d find a way to split 'em up and do the adults and kids separately. Quite apart from that, what on earth are you going to offer in the way of materials that will keep everyone happy?


Works for me.

Any questions?

come on guys… some advice please … and then I’ll treat you out.

Seriously. Split them up. You have to keep their interest and attention. How in hell can you expect to do that when you have little kids and adults in the same class?


Thanks. Actually, I know. Never, are you supposed to teach a class like this.

But considering 2 things… I still have to think of a method.

1.) It’s not my arrangement - boss definitely is going ahead with the class.

2.) It’s not so bad after you think about how with other kinds of classes, some how they manage a system that works with kids and parents together. Just like with community centers in the States that help families adapt to a English environments, they have some sort of method that works to keep the interest up for the kids and adults.

Also, although, the English learned in such a class may be much lower than a complete KIDS class, it can still work - but only if I can figure out how to keep everybody interested and having fun. Games that go for both adults and kids… perhaps.

Seriously my man, Sandman’s advice will be about the only thing people will come up with. Remember adults and kids want different things, not many kids could give a feck about the stock exchange and likewise not many adults would find it useful to talk about going about on their bikes with their friends…

Edit: post wrote as OP was writing…

I’m with Sandman on this one. I taught a few families back when I first started teaching 8 years ago. If the kids are in the same room with the parents, either the children will be distracting or everyone will be bored. You need to split them up: their interests, purposes for using English, and the speed at which they can learn new words will be completely different.

You’re probably afraid to do this because you’ve already promised the family you would teach them all together. But, this is something you need to do. Assert yourself as the authority. After all YOU are the expert. Tell them in no uncertain terms that the best way for them to learn English is separately and to do otherwise would be a waste of their time. You can work it so that you do a two-hour class with the family: give one group some worksheets or a video to watch while you work with the other group; or just let them do whatever they want for an hour while you focus on the other group.

Hope this helps.

EDIT: Saw your post later…

If this is your boss’s doing, then I would seriously consider looking for another job. This sounds like really poor planning and show’s a lack of concern for the teacher. The boss should either not start this kind of class or tell you what to do. You really can’t teach them at the same time. Give one group bookwork or pairwork that doesn’t need too much supervision while you focus on the other.

I understand. But since there is NOT an option… and the class must go ahead. I either opt out, and give the job to another teacher - or I stay in… meet the challenge, try my best, perhaps even make a record breaking new teaching method, become famous, earn millions, and then make my fellow Forumosa comrades millionares as well. Worst case scenario, Boss, decides we were right a long and decides to split things up.

So, with that said, any other ideas we can still think of?

BTW, thanks for that last comment. Appreciate the advice on concentrating half / half… still considered one class…

I also understand and respect your advice on asserting my authority, and making it clear that they have a bad idea for their school. - I have done just about that, just did not tell them no.

Anyway, they want to go ahead… and I prefer to stick around and take the challenge because there has got to be something I can learn from this.

What do you mean by this?

Do they still do that pairwork stuff in English teaching? You could split them up into adults and kids, and have them do different kinds of pairwork and things like that, suited to the adults and the kids.
It’ll be a hell of a lot of work for you though – double, really, since you’ll have to prepare in essence two sets of materials for every class.

Sandman seemed funny enough to be provided by FedEx parcel to the class rome… in other words provide Sandman as our special miracle material.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Sometimes the schools are simply in for the money… short-term, even if they can’t build their reputation as really allowing their kids to learn super English. That’s the sittuation here. They know it’s a bad idea, they turn around and then pretend it will still work, and are probably going to go ahead with it unless I strongly demand them not to.

I’m hold on to my last 2 hopes: 1.) CNN just ran a commercial that said something like “thanks to all those people that said I couldn’t do it” and 2.) I somehow know it won’t work… but will work just enough to keep parents satisfied. Maybe not. now this is feeling bad.

As of now… I’m considering games, and split concentration.

The problem is that you are the one who is going to lose out of all this. The parents will think you don’t know how to teach and so too the school. Then in the end when you say what did you expect, they’ll say well you are the teacher why didn’t you advise us on the difficulty. It is a Catch 22.

Perhaps if you still insist on going ahead with the class you could try planning a holiday. Then you could perhaps do roleplays about the types of things they could expect to encounter on their holidays. In fact, this is what I would do, but I would never do it because I think it is suicide. However, it may provide a face saving solution for all concerned. Make the class work to save your credibility then tell the boss that it can’t work any longer.

A holiday will work because there are so many different things you can practice at so many levels and it is super practicle.

Find out where everyone is with their skills. Take the time to do that. A good school should allow for individual evaluation time. Some combination of practicing short functional English phrases (Greetings, Requests) , and more structured vocabulary or pronunciation practice might get you started. Make sure they know their sight words. There are lots of games for learning colors, numbers, animals, actions… Set a reasonable 3 or 4 lesson schedule or plan and post it: then let everyone decide if they are progressing as they want. Use lots of pictures, Google will help you, or use children’s picture dictionaries. Children are usually expected to have homework but the adults I work with seldom have time for this. Might be different with adult beginners.
Is it possible to have an agreement with your boss for a limited number of these lessons? This would give you a graceful way out if needed. Good Luck.

I’ve taught classes like this and what worked for me was actually making the parents into teachers. Teach them how to do your job, basically. They should be at least a little more advanced than the kids. Teach the general lesson to the entire class, making sure that parents get it, then get the parents to teach it to their kids one on one or in small groups. This actually gives the parents face, and they all learn, and the boss makes money, and you look like a star!