Tips for Teaching Lower Level Fixed Students

Hi, Qkids family! I’m Teacher Angela. I’m an online ESL teacher and a stay-at-home mom from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I love reading, swimming, my pets, and my family. I’ve been teaching for three years now and have loved every minute of it! I’ve been with other companies, but Qkids is my favorite!

Part 1: Intro and Leader-board

So, you got assigned a fixed student. First thought: "Hooray!" Second thought: "Oh, my God, they're in level one?!" Have no fear! Teaching a level one fixed student can be rewarding and fun, and if you establish a good relationship, you could be teaching them for years to come! My schedule is mostly fixed students, several of whom I've had for more than a year, and while the littles require a slightly different approach than the more seasoned English speakers, I love them every bit as much…and sometimes more! This blog is part of a series with tips specifically for lower-level fixed students. And look out for a future series on tips for upper level fixed students.

In today’s blog, I’m going to give some tips for the intro and leader-board.


The intro section can be intimidating with one lower-level student who you may be seeing multiple times a week. What can you find to talk about for 3-5 minutes with someone who can barely say "Hello"? Keep your expectations low. They don't need to be saying full sentences. The main goal in the intro is to get them involved and enthusiastic about your class. During the first lesson, you'll also want to use this section to assess their English a bit. That way, you can know how better to tailor their first lesson to them. Whatever activities you use, be sure to use lots of TPR, facial expressions, exaggerated gestures, etc., to get your meaning across and to heighten their enthusiasm.

Start with a simple introduction:
I always say the same thing.
Teacher: “Hello.”
Student: “Hello.”
Teacher: “I’m Teacher Angela. I’m happy to see you, Elsa.” [using lots of TPR]

After that, you have a few options. Here are some of my go-to's.


Show the stickers to the student to say what they are. This is nice for lower-level students who are shy because it gets them laughing and involved. It can also be helpful for helping them choose what stickers they want on the leader-board after class.


I’ve got colors, shapes, letters, numbers. Show your flashcards to the student and see what they know. If they don't know any of them, you can say the words and have the student repeat. This is also a great way to introduce the student to your hand gestures for things like “listen” and “repeat.”


If the child brings toys or has visible toys, talk about those. Keep it simple at this level, speak slowly and clearly, pause a lot, and let the student contribute as much or as little as they’d like.

  • [Student has a stuffed dog]
  • Teacher: Dog!
  • [pause to see if the student will say anything]
  • What does a dog say?
  • {Pretend to think while you pause]
  • “Meow! Meow!”
  • [Pause]
  • “No! Hmm. Roar!!”
  • [Pause]
  • “No! Hmm. Woof! Woof!”
  • [Pause]
  • “Yes!”

You can use the same format with other questions, such as, "What color is the dog?" I like to always give three choices, the third being right, so the student can catch on to the pattern, even if they don't understand all of the words being said. Speaking of words, single words or very short sentences work best whenever possible for lower-level students. Remember, the goal in the intro is to get them involved and enthusiastic about your class and to assess how much they already know. In the above example, the student said nothing. But maybe they were nodding or shaking their head or laughing. Sometimes they will repeat what you say, too. And they love animal noises. Most of all, they will understand what you are getting at and feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence that they are understanding and participating. You can do this with your props too: stuffed animals, toys, balls, household objects.

Cut It Short:

You can always cut the intro a bit short, as well. This is not a strategy for first-time students; only for after the student has been on your schedule for a while. (Remember, the intro is an opportunity for you to assess a first-timers’ mastery of English.) Some of the early lessons take a long time for students to get through properly, and a few extra minutes can be helpful. If you’ve spent some time on the intro and are ready to move on, go for it! With a fixed student, you have a little more leeway to make the lesson fit the student.

**If you have an overly involved parent…
Many of the littles have their parents along for the class. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes not. But either way, I've found that the best way to establish a good relationship with the young student and their parent who wants to be involved is to involve the parent in ways that are helpful for the student and for me as the teacher. For example, you can say hello/ask questions to mom during the intro and have her model the answer (if her grammar is wrong, don't be afraid to say it the correct way afterward). Be sure to clap and praise mom so that the student sees what's in store for her when she answers. Then ask the exact same question to the student. Hearing her mom do it first could give her the confidence to try the answer herself.


The main goal for the leaderboard is to create a sense of pride and accomplishment for the student so that she will look forward to her next lesson and gain the confidence to be even more involved next time! I have a set format that I follow for lower-level students: put them on stage, ask what sticker they want (If they aren't to the point that they can tell me what they want, I try out different stickers, saying what they are, until I get a positive reaction for one of them), do a quick cheer and clap for them, and then say my goodbye script, using lots of TPR:

“Thank you for speaking English with me. I’ll see you soon. Goodbye.”

Most lower-level students don't understand all of that. But I repeat it every lesson, and they eventually learn. And they often catch on to parts of it, such as "thank you," "goodbye," and "see."

**If you have an overly involved parent…
I find that parents often want to speak to the teacher for a few minutes after the first lesson to talk about their child's placement level, strengths, and weaknesses, etc. This can be beneficial to you as the teacher as well as to the child, so go for it! (And always find a way to praise the child. Moms love that!)

If you’d like to learn more about joining the Qkids family, I’d love to help you get started! Take a look at the Qkids website: My referral code is NNTKC.

Shaping the future of E-learning together! Helping Qkids family grow in your own way!

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  1. TPR stands for TOTAL PHYSICAL RESPONSE and it is a method of speaking in which you, the teacher, use gestures to demonstrate words or phrases and expect the student to do the same. Hence the “response” part of the word.


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