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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > student progress ..    

student progress ..


student progress ..
Hi all .. I have a dilemma and wanted to know your take on it ..

for over a year I have taught a couple of adult students from an intermediate course book ..  they have been happy with the book so far,  but now they want to progress to a higher level .. maybe just some new year, new book syndrome.

while I think it is normal to want to see progress in your studies, the fact is that, in my opinion, they are not ready for anything higher than the current book .. the main issue from my perspective is that they both have a very busy life and so have little time to study outside the hour and half they spend with me each week. If they had had more time, maybe they would be more advanced now.

I think they look at me and think - well you �re the teacher. You should make me advanced ..  - like I had a magic wand .. lol ..

The problem is that I am afraid that they will lose heart and give up all together if I don �t comply and so I feel pressure to move them on falsely to the detriment of their learning ...

Should I? Shouldn �t I?  .. what would you do?? .. 

9 Nov 2009      


students and the "I want to speak English in 6 weeks".  90 minutes a week is not enough.  

You need regular testing.  The test must be challenging if they don �t study and relatively easy if they do.  

I use video in class instead of a book with regular tests.  The students are very happy and (touch wood) don �t seem to get bored.  

I have had a similar situation in the past when a students wants to move to the next level and they �re not ready for it.  You must be confident in your ability as a teacher.  You are the teacher: you decide what material is suitable for the student, not them.  

Tell them to move on they must complete the book and that they can do exercises as homework if they want to progress faster.  

Failing that you could be really mean, and show them examples of more advanced material that they simply cannot do to bring them down a peg or two.  But be careful as they may quit.  

The most likely solution and one that will hopefully keep them happy is to change the book to another one of the same level.  Or supplement the book with ws from here to give them a change.

9 Nov 2009     

New Zealand

I would have an assessment session where you explain to them it is time to evaluate progress and to see whether they are ready to progress to the next level or to continue with the books with maybe some extra extension and practice.

There is nothing like cold hard test marks to give the truth about level...
Are there assessment tests that come with your books or have a look at the website of whatever publisher you are using sometimes there are assessment tests for each level.

Maybe you just need to mix it up a bit... I don �t know if you follow the book word for word, but maybe supplement a session here and there with worksheets or material from somewhere else on the same topic.
The bottom line is, is that there is no point going up a level if they do not have a good grasp of the basics covered in their current level. Without a good foundation future learning will quickly crumble...

9 Nov 2009     


I recently came up with a simple rule (since a lot of them have been asking me to go up cause they think higher level means more conversation, better teacher and faster progress): if you know every single word and grammar piece in this book, you are ready to go  to the next level. Evil Smile

9 Nov 2009     


Photocopy a couple of pages from the harder textbook and have a �test � lesson. I �m of the opinion that they probably know better than me what level they are at or want to be in. The only way they progress is for the level to be just out of their reach (if they struggle but they �re happy that �s probably better than getting everything on the page but being bored).

I don �t think they need to know everything on the page/ in the book. They need to have been exposed to it and know 50 percent or so.

9 Nov 2009     


thanks for all the answers everyone .. I �m not sure I agree with you about the students knowing better than the teacher tho Dareka .. I know both what they know .. and what they don �t know/ have yet to learn .. On the other hand I do like the idea of giving them material that is just beyond their grasp.

I don �t think it is a case of boredom with the material, but rather one of - it �s a new year, why are we at the same level? - .. that �s the real issue .. and just like most teachers that I know,  I try to mix the input material as much as possible ..  and try very hard to keep things interesting and fresh.

I base my opinion of the students � English on regular tests, but they seem to think that because they paid their money they should automatically be at a higher level .. do they have a point? do other teachers take students through the levels at only a hour and half a week with no homework?  Am I failing them in some way? 

9 Nov 2009     

United States

Rafe Esquith wrote a book called There Are No Shortcuts:

A bit about it.

There Are No Shortcuts: How an inner-city teacher--winner of the American Teacher Award--inspires his students and challenges us to rethink the way we educate our children

You can find this book at Amazon. You might need to re-think how you �re teaching these students but also, they must learn that all good things come from hard work. A lot of the work has to be done at home and not just in your classes.
There are no shortcuts!

9 Nov 2009     


hi Lib, thanks for the tip .. I �ll check it out. 

What you are saying is kind of what I tried to tell them .. but they seriously don �t have time to do anything at home .. and they pay my rent.

9 Nov 2009