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How to approach private lessons for a newbie
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't think letting a prospective student take home a written test is wise. Cheating occurs


I can see no motive to cheat here - we are talking a simple level test for a private teacher, whom presumably the prospective student is interested in working with for purposes of improving his/her English. Essentially, the motivation on the students' part is INTRINSIC, not extrinsic, hence very little motive to inflate one's abilities. Again, European students are not concerned with 'saving face' in the same way Japanese ones may be.

Why cheat when as soon as one is in a face to face lesson, ones' language gaps will be glaringly apparent? We are talking about classes of one to two/three students here, not 30 or 40; little chance to hide one's real abilities in lessons.


Quote:
For readers in other countries, especially Japan, heed the following warning. Most students will tell you they need "everything" and are not self-aware.


Again, in my 14 plus years in Canada and Europe, this simply hasn't been true. Most private students were not studying 'general English' - they had some real goals for the lessons, and were easily able to communicate these to the teacher. I won't generalise my experience to Asian students, with whom I've had far less experience - such generalisations can very easily come across as unwarranted and unrealistic.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:
Interesting. Even so, I'd refrain from passing judgment about 'other countries' and the typical learner profile and their self-awareness or lack thereof.
I'm not doing that, so please stop trying to put words in my mouth.

Sashadroogie wrote:
May very well be true that Japanese learners typically fit this description.
I believe I made that clear, yes.

Sashadroogie wrote:
However, a sizable segment of learners I have dealt with had very clear ideas about their needs and abilities, and could express this very clearly to their teacher. And not just European students either.
Well, good for them! Honestly and sincerely! Now, instead of just trying to make your own students look better than who I teach, how about being a bit more helpful to readers and identifying those nationalities like I did with my own?

spiral78 wrote:
I can see no motive to cheat here - we are talking a simple level test for a private teacher, whom presumably the prospective student is interested in working with for purposes of improving his/her English.
This is where our experiences differ, as you know, spiral. The students that I have taught may very well do that, as will some other nationalities. Why? To be in the same group as friends, for one. I've interviewed enough potential students who wanted to be in the same level course as a friend despite an obvious difference in level. Given the chance to cheat on a home test, I suspect they may have done so. Now, that is just my own experience in my country (Japan), but I know of other nationalities that may very well do the same thing (and have done so just to get into American universities), so it's not isolated to Japan and private lessons.

Why cheat when it will be apparent that one truly does not belong there? Some people take the chance that their teacher will not kick them out, but will look for the chance to earn easy money and will suffer with students of different levels. In the case of the people I interviewed, my school actually looked at the dollar signs instead of reality and overrode my directive to place them separately. Disastrous results in the classroom were obvious. My own wife wanted to take private lessons with a friend that had a very different level of English. The teacher let them in, tried teaching them together, and despite the obvious discomfort of both students and their different levels, he was not about to let the money go. Fortunately, my wife took my advice and had both of them quit.

spiral78 wrote:
Again, in my 14 plus years in Canada and Europe, this simply hasn't been true
Good for you, and I mean that sincerely. However, you have not taught in all countries of the world, now have you? You can't speak for them all. I am merely cautioning people to keep their eyes open.
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Madame J



Joined: 15 Feb 2007
Posts: 239
Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The disadvantage of charging for a block of lessons is that surely things could get sticky if *you* need to cancel? If you tell the student, "Classes will happen every Tuesday at 2pm" then are sick one Tues, difficulties might arise if they've already paid.
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Binary_Star



Joined: 13 Jun 2011
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guys, let's not fall out over my silly question! You've all been very helpful. thanks.

And here's an even more embarassing question.....can anyone show me some good links to HOW to do a one-to-one lesson? I've only ever taught groups before, and that's just in my CELTA course. And CELTA doesn't really teach you one-to-one. It's emphasis is very much on letting students come to answers amongst themselves. I'm not sure how to convert what I learned in CELTA 100% to a one-to-one. for example, is it acceptable to have the student do some reading during the lesson or write answers to questions whilst I sit and wait (well, and monitor of course)?
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9041
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Glenski, I'm in Asia and though I don't teach privates per se, some of my classes at university end up being private lessons. I agree with him about students not knowing what they want.

He's been in Asia far longer than I have, I've been here about 4 years total. When I ask my students what they want I get the standard "I want to improve my Engilsh" answer. that's it. Or maybe the "I want to be fluent in English" or improve my pronunciation" but that's about as specific as it gets.

My students are adults between 18 and 25, a couple have been older, 40s, 50s. Also, the "private" students that I end up with are pretty focused career-wise, most have at least a MA, if not a PhD and pretty good jobs, have given conferences internationally in English, etc. yet they still don't know what they want.

It could be due to the fear of losing face, or that the teacher should know, or they don't want to stand out as being different since "I want to improve my English" is the standard answer.

One Stop English had some good lessons last time I looked. MacMillan also has some free! lessons available for Business English.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To remind everyone of the original purpose of this thread, this is an OP who is just starting out with private students in the European region. There are some posters here with extensive direct experience working with European private students.

I'll continue to try to offer what I can in terms of applicable advice, for what it's worth.
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