Student stories and what we are doing in 1:1 lessons
Have you ever wondered what other students are doing in their 1:1 lessons? How are they using this valuable lesson time? What are their goals in learning English and how are they taking steps to achieve them?
Since I started teaching 1:1 lessons online in May 2020, I have taught over 100 students from countries including Brazil, Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Turkey, Morocco, India, Kuwait, S. Korea, China and Japan.
There are some patterns, for example I usually find that Russian students want to really perfect their grammar and Spanish students usually struggle with the pronunciation of ‘y’ as in ‘yellow’ often pronouncing it as ‘jello’. But the most important thing I have learned is that every student is different. Each student has their own motivations, learning styles and goals. It takes time to learn what they are both for the student and for me, and we take the journey together.
Learning and improving English, like every learning process, is a step-by-step process. Your brain is building new neural pathways, and this takes time. Some steps are harder than others, but try to enjoy every step. It's on the hardest steps that you are progressing most. It’s amazing that you can speak a 2nd language and some of you a 3rd and 4th. I am with you on your journey and we must work together to match your goals to your steps. To give you an idea of the journeys that are taking place in the café at the moment, here are the profiles of some students I am currently working with.
Student from: Italy 🇮🇹
Goals: To improve general fluency and conversation skills. To improve writing for work emails. To improve pronunciation. To improve listening.
Motivation: To be able to understand and communicate fluently with work colleagues, local people in Ireland and other countries.
Level: Intermediate - Upper Intermediate
Lesson types: Listening, Conversation, Writing, Grammar, Discussion
At the beginning we were doing quite structured listening lessons using authentic materials from Irish tv and radio, where the student would listen to a piece and answer questions about it. We moved on to focus on certain grammar points as they arose through our conversation and the student also brought grammar questions to our lessons that came up for him in his every day life, for example how to use ‘to suppose’ and ‘supposed to’. We have started focusing on reading comprehension using interesting articles and books in order to improve vocabulary and accuracy in writing. We are also having a lot more discussion as the student grows in confidence and is expressing himself more and more fluently. This student is very dedicated, works very hard and is improving gradually from every direction.
Student from: Spain 🇪🇸
Goal: To improve general fluency and conversation skills and to be able to express complex ideas.
Motivation: To be able to have a complex conversation in English fluently with anyone.
Level: Intermediate - Upper Intermediate
Lesson type: Conversation
We talk about everything from politics, to exercise, to what it’s like being a new parent. We have very natural conversations with corrections as they arise. We work on incorporating natural phrases into his conversation such as ‘I was so thirsty, I gulped it down’. I’m always amazed at how quick he picks up and uses new words immediately. He works hard on using the correct tenses and in particular conditionals, and he often corrects himself. We’ve done exercises on differentiating between ‘another’ and ‘other’ and the difference between ‘say’ and ‘tell’. He recently told me that he is thinking more and more in English without translating from Spanish to English. This student has so much English and he benefits from lots of conversation practice. It’s a pleasure to see him improve and to be a part of his journey.
Student from: Japan 🇯🇵
Goal: To learn and remember new words and be able to have a conversation in English comfortably.
Motivation: To be able to communicate with English speakers where she lives and when she travels.
Lesson types: Grammar, Vocabulary, Conversation
In her very first message to me, this student said that she wanted to start from scratch. She said that she hadn't studied English since Primary school and she wanted to be able to learn and remember new words and to be able to have a simple conversation in English comfortably. We have had about 15 lessons now and we have covered a lot, including language for daily routines. We do grammar exercises and relate what she learns to her every-day life. We spent a couple of lessons on telling the time, it’s quite different between Japanese and English, and we are having more and conversation. We’ve worked a lot on using the present simple and continuous tenses, and the difference between them, and we’re currently working on using the past tense. She is learning step-by-step, making good sentences and building good habits. This student enjoys talking about her day and telling me about her work and her two sons. She is progressing steadily and beautifully.
In Café Club last week, on the topic of Education and Study, we talked about collaboration. I always try to collaborate with my students. There are so many ways to learn English nowadays: take lessons in a school or privately, read books, use social media, socialise, listen to podcasts, watch movies and there is a wealth of material on the internet. Knowing how to approach your study can be overwhelming. I collaborate with students on their goals, motivations, and what lessons are best for them. I'm here to support you at every step. Most of all, I try to make learning English enjoyable, because life is to be enjoyed, not endured.
I will profile some more of my fantastic students next week.
Til then, see ya in the café!