Every teacher has students who are easy and pleasant to work with. In most cases, they are either highly motivated and open-minded people or have an attractive personality. Moreover, there are always students who teachers are proud of. In this article, I would like to share with you a story of my students who I am proud of and whose daily habits helped them improve their English.
From Elementary to Upper-Intermediate in a year
First of all, I would like to tell you about my student Y. She started learning English at Skyeng school 2 years ago, and she advanced her English from Elementary to Upper-Intermediate level in a year having lessons 3 times a week and with the help of small daily routines. What are they? It may seem too obvious and simple, but she just learned all new words and recommended lists of words using Skyeng application on her way to work. Her trip to work used to take 30-40 minutes that she spent that time productively. Moreover, she tried applying all new words during our lessons. It may seem obvious, but some students ignore learning words. If they do, I give them an example of student Y. and say that if they don’t study at home and don’t learn the words we will progress in tiny steps.
Besides, student Y. switched her social networks into English and made posts in English trying to use advanced vocabulary. Of course, I am subscribed to her account and in case I saw some mistakes, I wrote her in the private message with recommendations on how to correct them. Sometimes I just said that there was a mistake and she corrected it on her own. In this way she has also started learning a new language, to tell the truth, by leaps and bounds.
Do reading and listening help speaking? They do!
With another student M., who is on Intermediate level now, we came across a problem that we had nothing to talk about at the beginning of the lesson because of routine life. Thus, upon my recommendation, she started reading articles in online newspapers (in English, e.g. Breaking News English) or she just watching videos on Youtube to retell them to me. If she watches films in her native language, she prepares some background information about the film and makes a wordlist that can help her speak about the film with me. In this way, she kills two birds with one stone: she improves her reading and listening skills, widens vocabulary, and we always have an interesting topic to discuss. Even more than that, we discovered that she can speak for 10 minutes without interruptions. Good job!
Music runs the world
One of my students, who is on Pre-Intermediate level and wants her speech sound naturally, had found her inspiration in music. I noticed a certain improvement in her speech: she started using the collocations of a more advanced level. She told me that her secret is songs. Of course, listening to English songs wasn’t enough, so, she printed the lyrics, read it and translated, and then sang the song along with the singer ☺ She did that with her adult daughter, who speaks English well, and they discussed what the song means and sang together. Of course, this method of improving language is good only for meticulous students, because listening just for pleasure won’t probably give results.
Student A. finds his motivation in watching films without translating to his native language. It is his biggest challenge. So, I send him videos, parts of TV and online shows (e.g. The Ellen Show), parts of films (e.g. shortcuts from “House M.D.”), news (from the Vimbox platform) and podcasts as a part of hometask. Some of them are connected with the topic we study, and some of them correspond to the student’s interests. For example, we are studying the topic “Money” (Business English, Upper-Intermediate level) and I’ve sent him the video “Economy (Money system) explained in 30 minutes”. Next time we will discuss how the economy works and what was new for him.
If we have extra time at the lesson, or in case we have a double lesson and we need to have some rest and vary the activities, we watch short (up to 4 minutes long) videos and discuss them. Some videos I borrow from TED lessons or TEd Ed channel, because there are various videos on different topics. I usually prepare several questions for discussion and include some pre-, while- and post-watching activities, like predicting what the video is about by the picture or title, stop the video and ask to predict what happens next and ask some comprehension questions after watching. We still have what to work on, but I notice changes in the constructions and words the student uses in comparison with our first lessons.
I believe that behind every good result stands hard work. However, this hard work can bring pleasure. Some people say that English teachers are like psychologists and know more than students’ spouses. Get to know your students, find out what they like and what type of learners they are and integrate small pleasurable routines in your classes. The progress will be noticeable very soon.
Do your students have habits that help them advance their English? Share them in comments!