What to do with a student who's lost enthusiasm?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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What to do with a student who's lost enthusiasm?

Unread postby Susan_Buggi » 19 Nov 2008, 01:51

Hello Lucy,

Its nice to make your acquaintance. I'm a beginning EFL Teacher in South America (When I say "Beginner" I mean no more than 2 months of teaching with no prior teaching experience). I currently have 1 student; a 26 year old male. Thursday I (plan to) start with another student a 27-29 year old female (age uncertain at this point); I interviewed her yesterday to determine what level of English she is at. She knows quite a bit of vocabulary: Numbers, Colors, Animals, etc.
Both adults have a good handle on pronunciation and appear to have a lot of potential. *I'm such an idiot, I didn't think to test her skill on the alphabet, and the sound that each letter makes individually vs. added to words.*

My question for you is: When conjugating (for example) "To Be" in simple present tense, why do we conjugate 3rd person singular to "is"?

I was sitting here, writing up a lesson for class, involving the verb "To Be" with its simple present tense conjugations, when that question popped in to my brain. Then my next thought was "How am I going to explain WHY we conjugate to "is" as it does not sound similar to am/are?" "Do I answer that I don't know, but this is the way it is?" Now, mind you this is one of those "WHAT IF" scenarios - If they ask me why, then ...

Also, my 26 year old student started out with such enthusiasm about learning, but the last 2 weeks he seems a bit cool about things; he starts to doodle on his lesson pages. Do you have any suggestions how I can find out if it's something that I am or am not doing, or that he's just over-worked with his full-time job? My worry is that its me, that I'm not being a very good teacher. The last thing I want to do is to let them down and since I have no experience at this, then I don't really feel qualified to teach.

I would appreciate your input on the matter, and I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post.

Btw, I saw your e-book listed in a previous post on the main forum, and as soon as I am able, I would like to order it; sounds like it's exactly what I need.


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Re: Am I over-analyzing?

Unread postby Lucy » 19 Nov 2008, 20:41

Hi Susan,

this all sounds to me like new-teacher nerves! It's normal for people, teachers, anybody to feel nervous in an unfamiliar situation. It's probably worse for teachers because we're meant to be in control.

As for your question about the conjugation of "be" to "is", I have never had and never heard of a student asking this question. I would be very surprised if you are asked about this. If, by any chance, you are, I suggest you shrug and say "that's how the verb is". If you speak the student's language, you might be able to come up with an example of a verb that conjugates differently for each subject.

As for a student doodling and acting cool, it's very difficult to say. Doodling actually helps some people concentrate, I do it when I'm listening intensively. Acting cool is another matter. Depending on how you're feeling (and you need to be ready for the answer), you could talk about this. You could start by asking about his/her pictures: that's a great picture/doodle. What does it represent? You could laugh about it with: does this mean you're bored? Alternatives are asking him/her what he thinks of the class.

Have you done a needs analysis? At a low level you could do one in the student's native language. You could also do it less formally and orally: we've been together a couple of weeks, what activities do you want to do more/ less of?

I hope this helps and please write in again, if you have any other questions.


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