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Difficult Students

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Erina
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Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:36 pm
Status: Teacher

Difficult Students

Unread postby Erina » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:00 pm

Hi, I'm new to this forum, glad to be here! I have a question about how you handle difficult or stubborn students.

I teach via Skype (private classes) and for the most part it works very well. I am fortunate to have great students, all very nice people and easy to work with, ....except one. A nice woman but I am having a very difficult time making any progress with her. For example:

Grammar - no, she doesn't want to bother with that
Listening exercises - only if she can have the transcript of the conversation with the audio tape. I explain repeatedly that this is not a good habit to develop but to no avail - "it's too hard, too much for me, etc." Even going to a lower level listening exercise doesn't change anything.
Videos for listening and speaking practice - only once in awhile, "it's too much for me"
Well
She does not listen to instructions, when she doesn't like an exercise or if she has to try a little bit to get it, she just tunes out and goes looking for something that she wants to do, which is basically talk, only she can't really do that because she has no grammar, listening or speaking skills developed.... :shock:

I am patient, I try to explain, to guide, to... you name it, all to no avail. I feel like I am wasting her money and my time.

How would some of you handle this type of student? I'm not the type to just throw up my hands in defeat, but I certainly can't give her the magic pill that will make her speak perfect English without doing the work like she seems to want. So, I'm coming here to see if anyone can offer some suggestions that I might try before I decide if I should just tell her that we maybe aren't a good fit and she might do better with a different teacher or perhaps in a classroom situation with other students. HELP! and thank you!

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Susan
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Re: Difficult Students

Unread postby Susan » Wed May 03, 2017 7:43 pm

It sounds disheartening. It's a difficult one. You've done so much to make it work.

A few suggestions:

Tell her the aims of the lesson before you start. You can negotiate them or not. Ask her to evaluate herself in relation to the aims at the end of the lesson.

Do conversation that will involve a lexical set or grammar point, thereby giving her the conversation she wants. Ask her to evaluate her speaking skills and language ability. Help her see where she needs to work.

Give her a section of a transcript and use it as an activity: gap fill or marking intonation and stress are two examples.

Hope this helps.

Susan

Erina
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Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:36 pm
Status: Teacher

Re: Difficult Students

Unread postby Erina » Wed May 03, 2017 8:36 pm

Thank you Susan. She seems to have it set in her mind that she will learn all she needs to know by just talking but I will try some of your suggestions. She gets frustrated easily, especially if she has to try at all to understand something and it seems no amount of trying different approaches or ways of encouraging/guiding help so I'm left sort of scratching my head at how else to help her. She is a pre-intermediate level that is horribly dependent on reading to understand. Basically she said she just wants to pick a topic and talk, no grammar, no exercises just.... talk. Sigh.


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