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Binary Opposites

In this next instalment of a series of QT participant-authored blogs, Richard Ashelford recounts how he gets students to focus on their own knowledge, and how this can sometimes have unexpected consequences …

I often save a few minutes at the end of a session to play a game of ‘opposites’ with my younger students,  – ‘antonyms’ for Year 6 just to please Michael Gove!

Simple choices to begin which develop into more difficult ones. Challenging words to work on are: straight/bent, sharp/blunt and wide/narrow (this is one of the most difficult). And you can turn it around so that the student asks first, and be prepared for real challenges here when the student asks you for the opposite of ‘yellow’…

A game of synonyms works well too.

This is how a recent game went with a student new to Year 4 who had a difficult Year 2 and only half of Year 3.

Me:  Let’s play opposites! I say ‘up’ you say ‘down’. (I point up and down)

Me:  up

Student: down

Me:  in

Student: out

Me: wet

Student: dry

Me:  boy

Student: girl

Me: man

Student: woman

Me: dog

Student: Oh, I can’t say that – it’s swearing.

Me: OK. Let’s talk about that later. (Tutor makes note to discuss swearing next time)

Me: Cow

Student: Bull

Me: Yes, well done. And some other animals are cows and bulls. Like elephants for example.  So we have cow elephants and bull elephants.

Student: I didn’t know that. That must hurt.

Me: open

Student: closed.

Me: Ok we’ll finish there then shall we?

Richard Ashelford
Richard has been a private tutor of English language, literature and Business Studies for over 15 years. After completing an Initial Teaching course and an English Language course at the Open University, he began to tutor seriously. Says Richard, "It’s been a massive learning curve and my own learning seems never-ending. In 2020, I completed the QT Tier 1 Course and I am an active member of the Community. After my first short blog, I was inspired and encouraged by the QT Team to write more. And blog writing is becoming another new skill! I hope my readers think so ..."

1 Comment

  1. Julia Silver
    15 October 2020 @ 9:48 am

    Richard, you’ve captured the poetry of tutoring. It’s just so good!


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