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  1. Newbie
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      • England
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      • Scotland

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    #1

    Question Problem with a student

    Hello all!

    I'm a student teaching English over Skype part-time. I'm not qualified but I make that clear from the start (and in my rates). I've been teaching for a couple of years, and happily most students make great progress.

    I've been having a problem with one particular student. He just doesn't apply what we've learnt in any way. He learns all the rules and when tested can put them into practice- but when actually using English, speaking or writing, he just guesses.

    For example, I recieved this message when organising a lesson-

    "And tomorrow if can I'll meet with friend in the center of the and can not'll meet need to write off with him on the evening."

    I KNOW his English is at a level (approx. intermediate) where he could've thought for a bit and written it correctly, so it's really frustrating that he doesn't at all put what we've learnt into practice.

    It's been two years and has always a problem. I've mentioned it before, but he just says essentially as a teacher it's up to me to solve the problem.

    Perhaps he's got a point, but equally he's notoriously unreliable when it comes to homework, practicing, being on time or even showing up at all. So I'm not sure whether this is just laziness or whether it's a legitimate problem I'm doing a very bad job of fixing.

    Has anyone had a similar situation and could give me advice?

    Thanks very much in advance :)

  2. teechar's Avatar
    Moderator
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    #2

    Re: Problem with a student

    Hi there, and welcome to the forum.
    His level seems to be much lower than intermediate. If I were you, I would stick with the basics (grammar, vocab, skills, etc) and grind that into him.

  3. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
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    #3

    Re: Problem with a student

    If you were to show him that sentence you quoted, how much would he be able to repair it?

  4. Senior Member
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    #4

    Re: Problem with a student

    Quote Originally Posted by M1randa View Post
    he just says essentially as a teacher it's up to me to solve the problem
    Not a teacher, just saying what I think
    ------


    I believe this is the exact problem: that he thinks it's your job to fix his problems. I don't like this attitude (not to use the word 'despise'). There's a methaphor I like to use whenever I hear something along the lines of "My teacher sucks, she can't teach me no thing!":

    Learning a language is like climbing Mount Everest, and your teacher is just your guide. (S)he can show you which way to take, what to avoid, what to watch out for, and what to take with yourself, but (s)he won't climb the mountain for you, it's you who needs to do it.

    This is the reason why I love this forum. These people will not give you the answer right away, they will help you teach yourself, which is worth a million times more. If your student fails to apply himself (judging by what you said about him, not showing up for the lesson, for example) it's entirely on him, unless you, indeed, suck at your job (which I think is less likely to be the case).

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Problem with a student

    Perhaps he feels that while he is not in a lesson (lessons he presumably pays for), he is under no obligation to use correct English. Maybe he just can't be bothered to think about it when he's writing a casual message to someone (even if that someone is his English teacher).

    How about finding some poorly-worded messages (not your students') that result in serious misunderstandings? If you show him some examples, he might start to think about how his messages come across. If I had received the message you did, I'd have been inclined to reply with "I'm sorry. I don't understand your message. Please try to rewrite it using correct English".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    Re: Problem with a student

    Quote Originally Posted by M1randa View Post
    essentially as a teacher it's up to me to solve the problem.
    It takes two to tango in learning.

  7. Key Member
    English Teacher
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    #7

    Re: Problem with a student

    I applaud your willingness to price your services according to your credentials, but people tend to perceive value in parallel with the cost. If you offer something at a discount, then they naturally think it must not be worth as much. This student may be putting in a token effort because he thinks of you as not a very important part of his life and future. The skype class is just something to do in his spare time. Isn't that your approach as well?

    You mentioned that you state up-front that you are "not qualified". How can you expect students to take you and your lessons seriously? Stop doing that! Your clients will decide for themselves if you are/are not able to help them. Don't 'sow the seeds of doubt' before you even begin.

    You didn't mention your student's nationality. Some cultures (and certain individuals within any culture) can only think about looking for the cheapest/least-effort solution, but expect results equal to the most expensive/most-effort. This is a disconnect that will probably not resolve itself, no matter what teaching strategy you try. After two years, it may be time to let this guy go and fill that time slot with another, better student.

    It doesn't matter if you actually have another student waiting or not (except to your bank account). You might be surprised how his attitude changes when you say to him, 'You don't seem to be making much progress. Perhaps I'm not the right teacher for you. I've got other students waiting for a place in my schedule, so I'm going to be leaving you.' This is a time-honored sales strategy called "The Takeaway Close". People are always crazy to get something they think they can't have. There is a risk that he will give you a bad review if you kick him out, but I doubt he would give a positive review in any case, so best for you to get this behind you sooner rather than later.

    Bottom line, you have two choices: You can keep taking his money and keep trying- "Throw enough mud at a brick wall and some of it will stick". OR: You've put enough of your time and energy into him with a poor result. It's probably never going to get better. Move on.

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