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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 3rd, 2009, 01:28 pm
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Default Is it me or them?

Hi again,

At this point I have about 13 private students. 11 of them fully understand what I teach them and how I explain things. I have 2 students, however, that just don't get it no matter how hard I try. These 2 happen to be the ones with the most limited English. It's possible that I'm not so good at explaining things to lower level students.

I am racking my brain trying to figure out if I'm just explaining things poorly, not putting things in context, or just doing something wrong! Sometimes though I think, "well some people just aren't naturally inclined to pick up a foreign language." But that feels like I'm taking the easy way out.

For example, I have a student in her 40's that cannot see the difference between the present simple and the present continuous. I've drawn timelines, given her all the reasons for why they're different, we've gone through examples, etc. But when it comes to actually practicing with a grammar book or producing the language, she's lost. With another student, we spent an ENTIRE class on do/does and he still just doesn't apply them correctly.

Any suggestions, advice, help would be seriously appreciated!!!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 9th, 2009, 08:30 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Quote:
Quote LeenaBuenosAires View Post
Hi again,

At this point I have about 13 private students. 11 of them fully understand what I teach them and how I explain things. I have 2 students, however, that just don't get it no matter how hard I try. These 2 happen to be the ones with the most limited English. It's possible that I'm not so good at explaining things to lower level students.

I am racking my brain trying to figure out if I'm just explaining things poorly, not putting things in context, or just doing something wrong! Sometimes though I think, "well some people just aren't naturally inclined to pick up a foreign language." But that feels like I'm taking the easy way out.

For example, I have a student in her 40's that cannot see the difference between the present simple and the present continuous. I've drawn timelines, given her all the reasons for why they're different, we've gone through examples, etc. But when it comes to actually practicing with a grammar book or producing the language, she's lost. With another student, we spent an ENTIRE class on do/does and he still just doesn't apply them correctly.

Any suggestions, advice, help would be seriously appreciated!!!
hi OP,

While every person can be reached should they want to be reached, well, that's it. They may not want to be reached. They may be going through the motions because of some external factor (e.g. her friends do it so now she does it...etc.).
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 10th, 2009, 02:26 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

I feel your pain. I have had plenty of students like that. You will probably find that these students are not very strong in their first language too. Don't beat yourself up too much. Just keep at it and do what you are doing in terms of showing examples and presenting the material in different ways.

In the past I usually have matched these kinds of students up with higher level students. Sometimes a struggling student will pick up the concept by observing another student. i think the main thing is that you keep the atmosphere light. Once the students tense up they are unlikely to learn at all. I hope this helps!
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:28 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Thanks for your help and reassurance. I really appreciate it!
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Unread Jan 4th, 2010, 09:00 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Hi Leena,

I find it really hard whenever a student of mine fails to succeed. I too wonder if it's me or them. Where does the problem lie.

In some cases, it is me. Put simply, I'm just not the right teacher for them at the moment. Other times, it's them. They may not be interested in English, fail to study or do homework, etc.

I've written an article on how to present the target language, which may help. I've also written two additional articles, one on fluency and one on accuracy. These may also help.

Accuracy

Fluency

How to Present the Target Language

Lastly, have you considered using the L1 of the students? That may help, as they may be able to make connections unavailable in English. In addition, have you considered their learning styles? Some students are auditory learners, other visual, others kinesthetic... tapping into their preferred learning style may help with more difficult grammar/vocabulary.

Hope all of this helps.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 6th, 2010, 02:16 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Hi Leena,
It may not be you at all. I've been teaching Beginning High in California for 3 years. Some students did not get much (if any) education in their native countries, and these students find it very difficult to learn English. Some students are hands-on learners, and they MUST have hands-on activities in order to learn. Other students are visual learners, and they need visual activities.
If you have time, you could read an article or a book about learning styles or multiple intelligences (these are pretty much the same thing). This information will help you understand how to create more effective lessons.
Other points to consider: do the students do their homework? Do they study for the tests? Are they really in class because they want a social activity?
If the students don't do their part, or aren't motivated, that is something you can't control.

Last edited by bread_baker : Jan 6th, 2010 at 02:18 pm. Reason: spelling
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Unread Jan 6th, 2010, 02:23 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

One more thing! Do and does are often hard for students to get. Try a different activity.
Do your students all come on time? At my school, MANY students come late. It's not unusual for students to come 30 minutes late. So I never start a new grammar point or a new lesson or topic in the first 30 minutes. I do other things in that time...things that aren't absolutely essential. I sometimes give additional practice on something they learned before, or maybe do review.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 6th, 2010, 11:12 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Hello,

I wouldn't beat myself up over this. In my experience, when there are a few students who just seem to struggle with everything you will probably find that they struggle in their native language too. These students probably don't have grammar down in Spanish, or whatever their first language is. Trying to learn grammar in a second language, when you haven't mastered it in your first, is difficult and just takes more time. Let them participate and learn from other higher performing students. Know that every teacher runs into this. Thanks!
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 7th, 2010, 05:30 am
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

Hello all,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. To answer your questions:

These students are actually private students, so the problem of them missing parts of class doesn't apply. However, they do tend to be flaky about class and don't always do their homework - so that is definitely an indication of their motivation. I have tried different types of teaching to see whether they are visual/auditory/hands-on learners but not to great lengths so I will definitely try to incorporate that more.

And yes, I know for a fact that both of these students that I'm having difficulties with are not strong in their native language. They don't understand Spanish grammar so obviously English grammar is difficult for them. I also have tried using L1 thinking that it would help and in some instances it has.

I'm learning to not take it entirely personally, though, knowing that they just might have a hard time learning a foreign language. Thank you for all of your input, I really do appreciate it!
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Unread Jan 7th, 2010, 07:03 pm
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

One student of mine had a book on English grammar for Spanish speakers. Sorry, but I do not know the exact title. I don't know if a book like that may help you.
If a Spanish speaker doesn't understand Spanish grammar, that person may be unable to write in Spanish. If that is the case, the student is going to have big problems with English.
You may want to plan long activities for the 11 strong students (30 minutes each, or more) which will keep them busy and give you time to work with the other two. Students need to understand why homework helps them learn and is important.
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Unread Jan 21st, 2010, 07:13 am
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Default Re: Is it me or them?

I have had students like these, and I although I know it's not me at fault -- because a lot of my students learn quite fast too -- I have to let go of classes with them. Because I realized that, as one commenter had said, I may not be the right teacher for them. Besides, teaching lessons over and over without them actually learning had been far too frustrating for me that it already affected my mood and my self-esteem, too. I know that as teachers we need to be patient, but we are also humans, and we need to see when students just refuse to learn. I just think of it as them having a subconscious refusal to learn the new language.
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