Graham and Mike,
That (no real beginners) is usually the case with us too in the United States, but there are still some people in the world who have never been introduced to English--I have a woman who escaped from North Korea in 1998 and spent time in prisons in 3 countries before making it to South Korea in 2002--she somehow enrolled in my ESL class at the U of Maryland this semester. She started the class with the English alphabet but no decoding skills, a few numbers and random words. Her classmates are all advanced beginners. For a student like her, private tutoring is probably the best answer, until they get enough English to really benefit from a "beginning" class.
> From: Graham Stanley <blogefl@...>
> To: email@example.com
> Sent: Friday, March 6, 2009 8:59:04 AM
> Subject: Re: [evonline2002_webheads] Re: Blown away
> Hi Mike,
> At the Barcelona British Council Young Learner Centre I can assure you that
> we never have real beginners any more - every student that walks in through
> the door has at least some knowledge of English nowadays.
> On Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 1:52 PM, Michael Marzio <marzio-school@ wanadoo.fr>wrote:
what about real beginners? Don't you ever have any of
> > those? My school has always had about 20% of REAL beginners as part of the
> > population (as real as you can get in a world where every culture mixes up
> > their own language with English words). Let's just say a real beginner is
> > someone who has never studied English at all, usually due to lack of
> > interest or opportunity.
> > I don't understand how you can even begin giving real beginners any sense
> > of accomplishment without a minimum of old fashioned structure, which
> > usually includes a book, especially a workbook, and listening tasks with
> > paper or workbook to check comprehension.