jonathon narvey's ESL CENTRE


Monday, June 19, 2006

Here we go again... Yeeehaaaaaa!

With classes changing over every month or so, ESL teachers can be forgiven for sensing a little deja vu at the beginning of a new term.

First comes the obligatory introductions, followed by a quick review of the school's rules ("Speak English, do your homework every day and if you slept in because you were hung over, at least have the decency to tell me your bus broke down") and the (hopefully) smooth transition into their very first lesson.

Keep in mind that these are not public school students who have to be in your class. They are your clients and you are providing a service in a very competitive market.

A few rules to remember to keep you and your class happy:

1. Be nice. I once neglected to greet a student as she walked in on her first day as I was busy writing the lesson topic on the board. She transferred out right after class, and took two of her friends with her. This prompted a very uncomfortable meeting with the school's manager.

Turn on the charm. It will pay dividends later.

2. Make sure you actually teach them something. This may seem obvious, but a lot of teachers like to spend a big chunk of time getting to know their students on the first day (which is good) but don't leave enough time to actually teach a complete lesson (which is not so good). Every day, even the first day, should be useful for them.

3. Write your email address on the board (You don't have to use your main email - you can sign up for one just for this purpose). This may seem a little weird, but this gives the students a signal that you are approachable at any time.

When another teacher advised me to do this I was afraid I'd be having to write tons of responses that I just didn't have time for. Actually, students rarely use it. Sometimes a student will email for some clarification regarding homework or just let you know they came down with the flu so they won't be coming to class. It's just one more tool to build a rapport with your students.

Don't ask the students for their email addresses on the first day, though. That's just creepy.

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  • At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also get students to mail written homework to me, so that I can correct it and mail it back. I send back two versions - one with their mistakes indicated, using highlighting and a code - VF for wrong verb form, SP for spelling, etc. They can then try and correct it themselves, before looking at the second versio - the corrected version. After that I include notes explaining any errors that they won't have been able to self-correct and a quick practice exercise. Obviously this takes time and you can't necessarily do it for all your classes all the time. But once the explanations/exercises are on computer, you can use them again and again.


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