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Sweet.cherry Nov 4th, 2011 06:47 am

Adult weaker student
Hi everyone,
I have an issue with an adult student who is the weakest in the group and becoming even worse because of some personal issues rather than a learning disability whatever.
She started with giving up at the placement test saying she can't do a single item although she had studied English before. So she joined a Beginner group. She carried on translating every word into L1. She said she needed it for confidence. So we had an awareness discussion, so everybody agreed to reduce L1 in class. Then she started having more difficulties with pronunciation, so I focused on drilling more, which helped. Then grammar problems began. I gave her extra homework on that.
She doesn't actually do any homework, but she pretends to, and she obviously expects everything to sort out on its own in class. It doesn't, cause I'm pretty tired of "what does *** mean?" when *** is supposed to be active vocab. She is really stressed when I'm eliciting sth from others and says "Why do they know it? What did I miss?" I am worried, and so is she. She keeps on saying she can't do anything and she's not as good as everybody else in the group. I feel like it's going to be a "bad teacher" issue with me. Please tell me what I can do before it becomes really bad.

mike_davidson Nov 23rd, 2011 07:37 am

Re: Adult weaker student
I think she needs more time. Each and everyone of us have different learning abilities. You need to be a friend of hers and try and make her learn only those things in which she is not force upon her.

arielhud Nov 23rd, 2011 10:13 pm

Re: Adult weaker student
Hi Sweet Cherry,

I totally sympathize with your situation. I have two adult classes that have students like this at my school. There are two factors that go into how I want to answer you, but since I don't know the answer to either, I'll just give you a broad recommendation.

The first thing to consider is her age. I teach mostly senior citizens, who come to our school simply to be active- I don't give them homework. I offer to correct diaries if they write them (some students use this to write me a question about grammar) but beyond that, they expect to only learn within the classroom. So I have to drill things for several weeks in a row and also give them a chance to use it conversationally in the classroom or I will have someone who is upset. So, I would ask her why she is learning English- BUT, don't single her out. Ask everyone. I work in Japan, and singling out a student is really bad- they simply won't answer, or will pretend they know something to not lose face in front of their peers. Japanese people are raised to never offer an answer unless they are certain it is 100% correct.

The second thing to consider is her learning style. Maybe written homework and exercises simply aren't working for her. If she needs hands on practice, suggest she come to more than one class, or take a longer class. If she is an auditory learner, recommend movies or TV shows for her to watch to hear more English. If she rents her own countries version of the movie, it will often come with subtitles, so she can get comprehension practice as well.

Those are a few suggestions, but if you can give me more info on her demographic, that'd be great. Thanks, and hope this helps!

Sweet.cherry Nov 24th, 2011 01:30 am

Re: Adult weaker student

Quote mike_davidson (Post 54429)
I think she needs more time. Each and everyone of us have different learning abilities. You need to be a friend of hers and try and make her learn only those things in which she is not force upon her.

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the reply.
I feel that one of her primary needs is to be sure she's doing well enough, otherwise she is discouraged which obviously affects learning. It's been two months now, and I've been supporting and praising her, and it goes like this: today she has her homework ready and does OK in class, but isn't very confident. I praise, it helps, she gets too confident and doesn't do homework for the next class.
She's one of those who really need to do homework or they'll fall behind. This is a group of four and everybody else is doing much better.

Sweet.cherry Nov 24th, 2011 01:48 am

Re: Adult weaker student
Hi arielhud,

Thanks for the reply.
I'm happy to provide more info on the student and hope it helps. She's a 30 y.o. Russian single girl and she's interested in working abroad. She made it clear at the beginning that she was highly motivated in learning and interested in a good result, ready to work hard bla-bla-bla.
Now she's not working. I can't ignore this because of that "bad teacher" issue with me, and there's one more reason. It's a group of four, and everybody else is doing much better. So, skipping homework is an option for them, but not for her. In pairwork she doesn't do well and this stops the other learner too. I've tried getting the others in a group of three and myself in a pair with her, but this way I can't monitor the others properly. I don't think this is fair to them.

arielhud Nov 28th, 2011 04:54 am

Re: Adult weaker student
It does sound like a problem.

My suggestion is to first, not praise her too much when she does her homework, if this results in her not doing it the next time.

The next thing you could do is have her with stronger students when there's pair work to be done. I know she doesn't like this, and it might slow the others down (or rather seem like it), but this can actually be beneficial to the stronger student- the best way to process complicated information is to try and teach it to someone else. So long as the other students in her class are helpful people, this shouldn't be a problem.

I would suggest also having a 5-10 break during one class just to chat with them all (read: her, but not singling her out) on the benefits of doing homework regularly, just to remind them that simply coming to class won't be enough to improve on its own.

Finally, if you're really worried about this "bad teacher" thing in terms of administration (rather than for self-confidence in teaching) then I would mention this to your supervisor, if they are approachable about this kind of thing. It's better for your supervisor if they have a heads up to issues occurring in the classroom- I know that when I mention things to my boss, he does his best to talk to the customers and have them improve on something, or at the very least, defends me if a customer does complain. I don't know how your work environment is though....

Anyway, hope that helps... it sounds like she really just needs to do her HW consistently, but this is an obvious thing. Maybe introduce pop tests that use examples straight from the HW to get her motivated... :p

Sweet.cherry Dec 1st, 2011 07:39 am

Re: Adult weaker student
Hi arielhid,

Thank you very much. You couldn't be more helpful. I tried the last idea and I think it worked :D

arielhud Dec 8th, 2011 08:47 am

Re: Adult weaker student
Haha~ good! I'm glad it helped!!! :)

Nash Dec 10th, 2011 08:57 am

Re: Adult weaker student
Hi Sweet Cherry!

Im kinda new at teaching but have experience when it comes to people. Sounds like the "confidence" of your student sounds more like the problem than a learning or coping disability.
You need to find out what the problem is that is causing her to fall behind ( yes you need to play psychologist).
The positive reinforcement will help in the confidence building but you need to discern when to implement it.
I also agree do not single her out, that will isolate and cause her to perform badly again.
Find out where she wants to work abroad and find a tourist video or books to motivate her to reach out, the books and video will also aid her in her learning.
Hope i was of help to you.

Bless you!

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