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Working with a tutor...any ideas for activities?

#1
I live in North America and have a acquired an ability to read Japanese with a dictionary but need work on my oral/aural skills so I recently hired a freelance native Japanese tutor for $25/hour.  He had placed an online ad to which I responded.  He's been in NA for about a year.  His English isn't at a native level but that's no problem for me.  We meet once a week and so far I have been using most of the time to practice my conversational skills.  So I will tell him in Japanese what I did the previous weekend and he'll interject and correct me when necessary.  Then he'll ask me some questions.  He has an amusing personality.

One time I said "let's try doing a dictation where you read things in Japanese out loud and I try to verbally translate into English and you tell me if I'm right."  But that was really boring and just didn't seem to work well.  He read sentences out of a textbook I brought with me.

Another time I brought a bunch of flashcards I had made and he shuffled through them and tested me on them.

I'm wondering if anyone has ideas for activities my tutor and I could try other than me telling what I did and him correcting me (and asking me a few questions about what I did).

Thanks.
Edited: 2016-08-28, 6:56 am
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#2
It sounds like you're doing most of the work here in terms of setting curriculum. That seems off to me. The best experiences I've had with teachers / tutors are when they were super experienced, and basically taught Japanese for a living.

So let me ask: does your tutor have any qualifications for teaching Japanese as a second language besides being a native speaker?

For the record, I myself worked as a JET and a private tutor while in Japan, and I had no qualifications besides being a native speaker.

I recommend at least trying out italki: https://www.italki.com/home.

There you can filter Japanese teachers by those who have professional qualifications. They used to have a trial where for $10 you could try 3 different teachers.

The best experience I had with working with professional teachers would be that they could zero in on my level, and then know when to match me and push me outside of my comfort zone.

Now that I think about it, since I already decided to pass on the N3 this year, maybe I should join italki myself to work more on my speaking ability. That's always been the most fun for me Smile
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#3
I agree with Ari that the tutor should be the one creating a structured lesson of sorts for you. But if you're OK with taking the reins, there are some great activities in this website and refer to the " Lessons Setting" activities. I particularly like the "Road map" and "The Series method" but of course don't do only these 2. Hope this helps!
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#4
Thanks ariariari and RawrPk for your insights.

I don't mind "taking the reins" since this particular tutor is a great guy and it's difficult to find Japanese tutors in my city. I'll check out the Road Map and Series method.
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#5
I'd say take a Manga to him and see if he's hip with the modern/slang terms in Japanese.
As someone who wants to play JRPGs and read Manga, I found out it's almost a huge difference in formal Japanese teaching and slang etc. May as well do something like that while you have a live, native tutor. You have all your life to learn formal stuff and can even do it by yourself, lol (though you can learn slang by yourself, but won't be as fun/easy)

Here's a huge list on slang btw... ignore where it's hosted, lol
https://forums.e-hentai.org/index.php?showtopic=6233 (all I googled was Japanese slang list to find it so..)
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#6
(2016-09-16, 4:07 pm)KuroiHitsuji Wrote: I'd say take a Manga to him and see if he's hip with the modern/slang terms in Japanese.
As someone who wants to play JRPGs and read Manga, I found out it's almost a huge difference in formal Japanese teaching and slang etc.  May as well do something like that while you have a live, native tutor. You have all your life to learn formal stuff and can even do it by yourself, lol (though you can learn slang by yourself, but won't be as fun/easy)

Here's a huge list on slang btw... ignore where it's hosted, lol
https://forums.e-hentai.org/index.php?showtopic=6233 (all I googled was Japanese slang list to find it so..)

Thanks, I'll take a look.
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#7
Quote:We meet once a week and so far I have been using most of the time to practice my conversational skills. So I will tell him in Japanese what I did the previous weekend and he'll interject and correct me when necessary. Then he'll ask me some questions. He has an amusing personality.

I have a tutor on iTalki who is like that. I can't get her to study using textbooks, but her price is low so I used another tutor for formal study. For $25ph I'd want something more structured though...

I see your wanting to practice output. Perhaps it would be worth going through the speaking exercises from a intermediate/higher level textbook? Or you could try printing out an article, read it, and then try talking about it.
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#8
(2016-09-19, 4:53 am)RawToast Wrote:
Quote:We meet once a week and so far I have been using most of the time to practice my conversational skills.  So I will tell him in Japanese what I did the previous weekend and he'll interject and correct me when necessary.  Then he'll ask me some questions.  He has an amusing personality.

I have a tutor on iTalki who is like that. I can't get her to study using textbooks, but her price is low so I used another tutor for formal study. For $25ph I'd want something more structured though...

I see your wanting to practice output. Perhaps it would be worth going through the speaking exercises from a intermediate/higher level textbook? Or you could try printing out an article, read it, and then try talking about it.

At this stage in my studies I don't need my tutor to provide "lesson material" or stuff I can find myself in textbooks.  I do grammar study on my own.  What he provides is what you can't get from a book--the experience of speaking with a real live native Japanese speaker.  And it's live (not over the internet).  He's sitting right across from me at the table.  As such he's priceless and I think he's worth the $25 per hour. 

I'm currently studying for the N5 and sometimes I do ask him specific grammar questions, like last week I came across two different ways of saying essentially the same thing in Japanese and I asked him if there was a difference (there was, and he explained it to me).

Still it would be good to do something else besides just talking about what we did last week.  I like your idea about bringing an article and talking about it.  I'll do that this week.  Or some type of show and tell. 

Maybe we can play Japanese "password" or some other type of game.

I highly recommend practicing with an in-person tutor.
Edited: 2016-09-19, 6:18 am
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#9
Aside from articles, how about movie and TV reviews of shows you are watching or have watched. Both foreign and domestic.
As for articles, you could get some good ones from my favorite adult magazine "The Economist" if that is your bag.

You could try
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ope...r-together
I'd skip the 4 minutes of looking into his eyes assuming no homo. But if yes homo, go for it.
Lot of interesting questions, they can be used as inspiration for other questions. You can always skip some if they are too personal or just weird.
Edited: 2016-09-19, 10:57 am
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#10
You can try something along these activities with your tutor.

http://www.everydaylanguagelearner.com/2...ge-helper/

Question: do you and your tutor speak entirely in Japanese during your lessons? If so, that is very impressive with your level! I'm aiming for N3 and I don't feel remotely ready to speak yet. Failed a few attempts to speak with native Japanese friends via Skype (long silences on my part) and I'm personally deciding to delay until I'm efficient enough to be less silent Tongue
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#11
(2016-09-19, 12:13 pm)RawrPk Wrote: You can try something along these activities with your tutor.

http://www.everydaylanguagelearner.com/2...ge-helper/

Question: do you and your tutor speak entirely in Japanese during your lessons? If so, that is very impressive with your level! I'm aiming for N3 and I don't feel remotely ready to speak yet. Failed a few attempts to speak with native Japanese friends via Skype (long silences on my part) and I'm personally deciding to delay until I'm efficient enough to be less silent  Tongue

You'll only get better if you speak more. I'm aiming for N1 this December, but since I rarely speak, I'm always nervous and have to search for the words I want. Even basic conversation is difficult (though I can manage for a couple of minutes now).

Delaying entirely Japanese conversations until you're more comfortable is fine, but don't put off speaking too much.



@OP
You could try explaining a certain topic to him: something that you're interested in, something in your field, etc. Even if its something he already knows, it can turn into a conversation from there.

I've personally been planning to try explaining Boolean logic the next time I meet with my tutor (tomorrow), but I still need to finish the paper I was assigned...
Anyway, since it has a very simple basis (just three very simple axioms) I figured it would be pretty easy, and it fits nicely with my studies.
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#12
(2016-09-19, 12:35 pm)sholum Wrote:
(2016-09-19, 12:13 pm)RawrPk Wrote: You can try something along these activities with your tutor.

http://www.everydaylanguagelearner.com/2...ge-helper/

Question: do you and your tutor speak entirely in Japanese during your lessons? If so, that is very impressive with your level! I'm aiming for N3 and I don't feel remotely ready to speak yet. Failed a few attempts to speak with native Japanese friends via Skype (long silences on my part) and I'm personally deciding to delay until I'm efficient enough to be less silent  Tongue

You'll only get better if you speak more. I'm aiming for N1 this December, but since I rarely speak, I'm always nervous and have to search for the words I want. Even basic conversation is difficult (though I can manage for a couple of minutes now).

Delaying entirely Japanese conversations until you're more comfortable is fine, but don't put off speaking too much.

You do have a point there. My speaking skills are quite terrible. I still shudder of times whenever I had to speak aloud in Japanese class or read outloud. I was painfully slow, though to be fair, I am a slow reader in any language lol. I also read like a monotone robot ┗[© ♒ ©]┛ The fear of publicly speaking/reading somehow converts me into a robot I guess.

The strangest thing of all of this is that you'd expect this from someone who is shy but I'm not at all shy since I am comfortable with casual conversations just fine. I just feel like when I know there is an "expectation" of sorts, I freeze up and I end up sounding silly. Confused
Edited: 2016-09-19, 2:09 pm
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#13
maybe you could work on intonation with your tutor? I'm not sure how helpful having a tutor will be for that. I picked up intonation from a lot of exposure to Japanese from not noticing it to noticing it (being able to hear it) to being able to copy it to speaking with correct intonation automatically.
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#14
There are two types of tutors:
1) Professional, licensed teachers who make structured lessons for you like in school and have a high price. I think this is good if you are a beginner and don't know what to study.
2) Tutors who are "regular people" tutoring as a side job, focus more on conversation, and cost half the price. This is good if you don't like structure and like to pick your own topics.

In the past, I got tutoring on a site called JOI (japonin.com) and it had structured lessons, but I hated it. It was stressful getting taught a grammar point and having to immediately make my own sentences on the fly, even if I was confused or never heard of this grammar point. And it was a group lesson, so I waited quietly for my turn, stressing about what I was gonna say and held everyone back if I was confused. I have a mostly great experience with Italki tutors, except once. The teacher was trying to force me to read Doraemon because she always did that with her other students, even though it was too easy and she decided on her own that I should only speak casually (not using ~masu verbs). I don't like being forced into a "one size fits all" approach.

Flash back to current me, I take 2 hours of tutoring on Italki almost every day. Italki has tutors living in the US and Japan so it's easy to find someone who has a schedule to fit yours. I recommend doing the 3 trial lessons available and picking teachers who have a preview video of them speaking English and Japanese.

Now for the meat of my post. I prefer regular cheaper, not professional tutors. I do not like structured classes, and I collect A LOT of questions about Japanese or Japan throughout the day on my own. I love picking what topic to talk about and how long to talk about it. I send the tutor links to public Google Documents that I made so we can both write on it. Things I like to do with the tutor are:
1. Before the lesson, translate a story in English I wrote to Japanese. At the lesson, have the teacher help correct the sentences. Ask "why" questions about grammar and for explanations in Japanese about new vocab. (This is essentially homework, because you are preparing for the lesson ahead of time.)
2. Find a story on a site like http://syosetu.com/ , paste the story on a Google Doc, and take turns reading paragraphs with the teacher. After every sentence, I immediately ask the teacher about new vocab and try to summarize what happened in the paragraph. (Make sure to write down what page you left off, though.)
3. Ask about culture! A native Japanese teacher is a perfect person to talk to. Ask about their high school classes, differences between America and Japan (I'm assuming you live in the US, sorry), and customs. You take turns asking about a topic, listen to the teacher, ask questions about interesting parts, and then tell about how America is different. (Other great topics are holidays, like Japan's Valentine's Day vs. America's; popular food/candy; tourist spots; stuff you saw in a drama/manga that you want to know if it's real or not; etc.) I like to tell my tutors about things that aren't popular in Japan like they are in America.
4. Talk about your day, a vacation you went on, a weird memory... Learning how to say this is important, because it's vocab that is relevant to you.

You can break it up. Imagine you have a 1 hour lesson. For the first 10 minutes, you take turns talking about your day or a trip you went on. Print out "help!" words like "Can you repeat that?" "Please write that down" and use it in Skype so you can keep a record on new vocab. Next, ask any questions about Japanese grammar/vocab you have (5 minutes). With the remaining time (45 min), you can split it in half. The first half can be translating a story you wrote, then the other half can be reading a novel you found online so you can both read it. You just tell the teacher that you want to switch topics or keep going on the same topic if it is fun.
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#15
I'm the OP.  Thanks everyone for your very helpful responses.

Tonight during my session with my tutor I discovered through our conversation that he was raised in Osaka.  I had heard of the "kansai" dialect in the past and asked him if he spoke it.  He said yes.  Does that explain why he says "wo" instead of "o" as in "Hon wo yomimasu?"  Early on, when I said "o" he corrected me and told me to say "wo" instead.  At the time I figured it was just a stylistic variation.
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