Tips for Teaching Lower Level Fixed Students

Part 2: Tips for Common Issues During the Lesson

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 online ESL companies, but Qkids is my favorite!

This blog is part two 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.
(Part 1: )

In part one, I gave some tips for the intro and leaderboard. In today’s blog, I’m going to give some tips for troubleshooting some of the more common issues during an actual lesson with a lower-level fixed student.

The Student Repeats Everything You Say and Cannot Answer a Question

This is an EXTREMELY common issue for early students. They often can repeat what you say BEAUTIFULLY, but cannot answer a question.

Teacher: “My name is Teacher Angela. What’s your name?”
Student: "My name is Teacher Angela. What's your name?"

In a 1v4 class, other students (who DO understand how to answer a question) can be the models to show how to answer a question vs. just repeating. In a 1v1 class, I like to use a puppet to model a conversation for the student.

Teacher: “My name is Teacher Angela. What’s your name?”
Elmo puppet: "My name is Elmo."
Teacher: “My name is Teacher Angela. What’s your name?”
Student: "My name is Elsa."

Sometimes, it may take a few times for the student to understand what she is supposed to be doing. But she will get there. And after she can do it once, you can use the same technique to model every question/answer combo until she recognizes questions on her own.

I also differentiate when I want a student to repeat (by saying “Listen, repeat.” while pointing to my ears and then my mouth), from when I want them to answer (by putting out my arms in the gesture for a question). Students may not get this right away, but if you use it every time you want them to repeat, in conjunction with using the puppet to model question/answer combinations, they will catch on fairly quickly.

The Student Can Repeat the Vocabulary During the Vocabulary Section, but Cannot Identify It on Her Own Later

I usually start to troubleshoot this issue by just telling the student the word that she can’t recall and having her repeat it. Then, if it proves to be a continuous problem, I will try using a prop to try to jog her memory (when applicable) or typing the word in a text box to see if she can read it. If not, or if the issue persists, I will go back to the vocabulary section to quickly reteach the vocabulary words. Vocabulary is really important in the lower levels. If students don’t get the basics, they’ll have lots of trouble as they progress. Make sure they get it.

Not Enough Time

This happens frequently during early lessons, which tend to give teachers a triple challenge: a lot of material to cover, students who often don't understand much of what you're saying, and students who aren't really familiar with the format and logistics of the lesson. So, you're essentially teaching them three things: English, how to follow your instructions, and how to take a Qkids English lesson.

Here Are My Top Ways to Combat This Issue:

Don’t do every question in every exercise. If there are six questions, but the student gets the first two of them correct, feel free to move on. The exercises are designed with larger classes in mind. There are lots of questions so that every student gets the chance to answer. They may not all be necessary for a single student.

Know which sections you can skip. Sometimes, lessons have multiple sections that essentially ask the students to do the same thing. If this is the case and the student has already mastered the task presented in the first section, you can skip it the second time around.

If you have a student who you know takes a long time to complete a lesson, a great strategy is to save the spelling section (when there is one) until last. That way, you only do the number of words that you have time for.

You can also start the lesson early. You don’t need to use the ENTIRE time you’re in the intro section to chit-chat with the students (especially because the amount that they can chit-chat will be minimal at this level). Feel free to move on to content once you’ve greeted your student if you’ll need the extra few minutes.

Too Much Time

Sometimes you’ll get a kid who just breezes right through the lesson. Maybe it’s a bit easy for her. And before you know it, you have five minutes left and you’ve covered all of the material…thoroughly! Chances are, you won’t be able to just have a conversation with a student at this level. So what CAN you do?

Spelling: Extra time at the end of a lesson is a great opportunity to have students practice spelling words from the lesson or unit that they’re covering. Start with easy ones, have the student spell orally, and type the words into text boxes on your screen as the student spells. If your student isn’t great at spelling, sound the words out for her slowly, one letter at a time. If she can’t even do that, you can type out the word and see if she can spell it while looking at it. Give diamonds for each word, and leave the text boxes up so that she can see all of the words that she has spelled!

Flashcards and props: Get out the flashcards and props and ask your student questions related to the material. A great topic for level one is colors. You can grab ANYTHING and ask what color it is. Model sentences for her to repeat, like, "It's a brown and white teddy bear." You can give her increasingly difficult sentence structures as her abilities allow. Numbers, letters, or school supplies also make great topics for early learners to identify and talk about at this.

Shy Students

Students who are too nervous to talk much are fairly common among the younger students and can be very challenging in a one-on-one class. Getting students to be comfortable enough to talk can take a while. Don't be surprised if you have to do a majority of talking for first-timers. Any response you can get from them is great… a nod or a head shake is a step in the right direction.  Be silly…try to get a laugh. If you can get your student to feel more comfortable with you, she will come out of her shell more and more. And, while we want to always be kind with correcting our students, it is extra important with these students that our corrections are gentle so that they can develop the confidence they need to be able to talk more and more.

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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