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How to gage the level of a language student and how best to plan their lesson

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by emspem86, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. emspem86

    emspem86 New commenter

    Hi there,

    I did a degree in modern languages and would like to be able to help others by tutoring Spanish, from beginners to A-Level. I would like to tutor adults for leisure or students (towards exams).

    I did well in my degree and am confident at my level of Spanish to teach, but I have never taught before and am not too sure where to start!

    I am familiar with the marketing side of things, but I would welcome any advice on how to actually plan a lesson and how to gage the level of a student.

    Can anyone also advise of any learning materials that have worked well for them?

    This may also sound strange, but I am 31 and back in my school days everything was on paper. Would students expect to be using laptops during tuition these days?

    Many thanks,
  2. mathsmutt

    mathsmutt Star commenter

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Laptops rarely feature in my tutorials, but could. I understand that there are some good language games available.

    I don't do languages, but if I did, I would talk to the tutee and see what they wanted. I would also attempt a simple meet and greet conversation and see where it goes.
    For adult leisure students, I would think in terms of planning lessons around key situations - restaurants, car hire, stations, airports and the like. Think about key vocabulary and constructions.
    Before you do exam coaching, you need to go onto the exam board websites, look at specification and exam questions to see what is needed.
    I always ask new pupils what they need, after a couple of lessons, I usually see what's needed. However I am at the other end of my career to you.
  4. emspem86

    emspem86 New commenter

    Thank you both very much for taking the time to respond. This has been a great help
    mathsmutt likes this.
  5. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I tutor languages. I am a qualified teacher with 20odd years' experience. I escaped the system five years go and set up on my own. I teach lots of adults, a fair few primary children and one or two GCSE students. Many of my adult learners have property abroad or they are planning this for the future. I have a bank of stuff for the adults ranging from hotels and restaurants and chit chat stuff to specific things like septic tanks and buying oil for heating in rural France and setting up bank accounts. I have a bank of stuff for GCSE students which generally involved box ticking to make sure they have included whatever the mark scheme says for the high grade. This is what I like the least and was my biggest reason for getting away from the classroom. I like to teach for understanding and not to pass exams. Primary children like fun games and short activities. My primary lessons are 45 minutes and involve very little writing unless a student particular;y likes writing. I have one little girl who likes to write everything down.
    Adults often ask for apps or books etc and I often pass on recommendations from one student to another. It is about finding what works for them. The youngest of my students has just turned five and the oldest is in his seventies. The man in his seventies does an hour a day by himself with books.
    My first lesson is generally a score yourself self assessment type thing followed by asking them what it is that they want to learn. Everyone has a different need for learning. I get one or two who need the language for work but generally it is just leisure.
    In terms of earning potential, retired adults and shift workers have been a big source if income because they can do daytime lessons, don't want a six week break in the summer and are generally very flexible when I want to take a cheap holiday in school time. Primary children often want to carry on in the holidays whereas the older ones tend to want the holidays off
    Best of luck. There is a world outside the exam board website
  6. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    I think @langteacher has said it all really.

    Perhaps starting with leisure learners would be the best option for your circumstances (i.e. no teaching experience or current curriculum knowledge) - until you've had chance to get an idea of the range of different learners out there.

    However, if you do advertise for and get exam students, do make sure that you totally familiarise yourself with the requirements of their exam board and specification. There have been lots of changes to GCSEs and A Levels since you took them. And all GCSEs and A Levels have just undergone reform - so make sure you're looking at the most up-to-date specifications. I find GCSE students often require speaking practice (in large classes at school they often do lots of pair work but don't get much one-to-one attention from the teacher for accuracy, or may lack confidence) and, especially if they are just moving onto GCSE after KS3, they often lack even basic grammatical understanding. A Level students usually need practice with more advanced grammar (e.g. distinction between past tenses, subjunctive) and often need guidance with exam technique (so knowing the types of questions used by the specific exam board is crucial, along with the marking criteria for speaking and writing). If you don't already know, the main exam boards in the England are Edexcel, AQA, OCR (and WJEC in Wales). Oh, and you may find that (especially GCSE) students don't even know which exam board they are following, but you can usually find out through their school website, and then get them to double check with their teacher (as the website might not be up-to-date)!

    I don't tend to use a laptop much during tuition, but do sometimes for listening exercises or videos, or to demonstrate useful independent learning websites. I recommend free websites to my students and find that keen learners will use them and decide for themselves those which suit them.

    Good luck with your new venture!
    mathsmutt likes this.
  7. emspem86

    emspem86 New commenter

    Thank you, this has been very helpful and interesting. I will certainly consider your points.
  8. emspem86

    emspem86 New commenter

    Perhaps starting with leisure learners would be the best option for your circumstances (i.e. no teaching experience or current curriculum knowledge) - until you've had chance to get an idea of the range of different learners out there.

    Thank you, this is a very good idea. I would hate to not be able to give my all and let any students down.

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