Your first session with a new student is crucial, because you not only want to understand who your student is, and what they need, but you also want to convince them that you can truly help them improve.
Here are our tips below for how to make the most out of your first session with a new student.
A proper introduction at the beginning of a session with a new student is extremely important. It gives:
1. The student time to warm up their English
2. The teacher time to assess a student’s level
3. The teacher and student time to solve any connection issues
4. The teacher the opportunity to start to forge a relationship with the student.
The best way to approach an introductions
Before starting your introduction, tell the student to let you know when he/she doesn’t understand or if you start speaking too quickly. This let’s them know it’s OK if they don’t catch every word and also that you’re going to help them out as you go along.
Tell the student a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.This gives the student a chance to think of the own intro and in the meantime you can check their comprehension (which is usually pretty clear- you’re either getting head nods or blank/terrified stares).
Once the student starts their introduction, start assessing their fluency, accuracy, and pronunciation. You are going to be processing a lot of things at once but don’t forget to actually LISTEN to the student. This will allow you to pick up some personal things about the student that will be helpful in forging your relationship with him/her, which becomes really important in whether or not that student will continue working with you after this session.
REMEMBER: SMILE and be friendly. When Fluentify has asked students why they like their favorite tutors compared to others, they always mention how kind and enthusiastic the tutor is. Don’t underestimate this factor.
2. Find out the student’s English history
Has the student only had high school classes or have they studied or worked abroad experience?
This will help you understand the method by which the student has:
1. Learned English so far
2. If it’s working
3. How the student likes to learn.
TIP: When asking about your student’s English learning experience, you can also ask them what kind of things they thought were most useful during this process and what kinds of activities they absolutely didn’t like. This can give you an idea about your student’s learning style.
3. Clarify the student’s goals
This part is HUGE. If we don’t know what our student’s goals are, we can’t really help them get there, right? This part is also tricky because not all students have very clear goals. This is where your coaching skills come into play.
Questions to ask to clarify goals
When a student has a goal that is a little more vague, try to get as much information as possible. For example, for a student who wants to improve their speaking, you might ask:
1. Why do you want to improve your speaking?
2. When do you find yourself speaking in English?
3. How often do you need to speak in English?
4. What kind of things do you usually have to discuss?
5. What do you find most difficult when you need to speak in English?
After asking a student the above questions hopefully you’ll have a better idea which you should then REPEAT BACK to the student so that he/she can correct you if you haven’t understood something well.Use all this information when making your student’s English plan.
4. Making a student plan
This is when you tell the student what you’re going to do together to help him/her reach that goal. Obviously you’re not expected to have a course plan prepared, but tell the student how you usually structure sessions and how what you do together is going to get the student closer to his/her goal with each session.
During this part you should discuss:
What the sessions will or may look like: such as homework review, grammar topics, homework assignments, the structure of your lessons.
What YOU will give the student: such as verbal feedback, written feedback after each session, homework activities.
The amount of sessions the student should do over a period of time: For example, whether you think the student should start with 2-3 sessions a week for the first four weeks and then see whether they wish to take it down to fewer sessions a week.
What the student should do outside of classes to improve their English: such as listening to podcasts, reading articles and watching a TV series in English.
Be clear and confident
This is important because you want to show your student that you are sure that by working together and following this plan he/she is going to see major improvements (which is true!).
Remind the student that sessions are based on their needs
This means that they can come to a session and tell you, “I need to draft this email to send to my boss tomorrow,” or “Today I’d like to talk about dinosaurs,” and you have no problem helping them with that specific task or having a general conversation about that topic.
Ask the student if they have any questions
Always make sure to ask the student if they have any questions or if anything you’ve explained is unclear at the end. Clarity and support are key during the first session.
4. Tech Notes
Explain a little about how the platform works
This is useful for students who are brand new to the platform. This can include explaining what the chat is, how it works, and how everything from the chat can be accessed via the messages outside of sessions.
Explain to the student where they can find the feedback form
This is in Notifications > click on [your name] has left you feedback > click on the big green button that says ‘SHOW FEEDBACK’ (or ‘VALUTAZIONE’ if their profile is in Italian) and they will see everything there.
6. Student Interests (time permitting)
If you have 5-7 minutes at the end of this session, give the student the chance to talk about his/her hobbies and interests. This is easy for them and it will also help you when picking appropriate/fun/interesting activities to give the student.
Write this information in the notes on your student’s card to use for next time.
7. Summary and Next Steps
Always leave 1-2 minutes at the end of the session to briefly summarize what you’ve discussed and what you have in store for the student.
Remind the student that you will be submitting his/her feedback form later in the day and to send you a message if he/she has any questions.
End on an enthusiastic note
A student that feel positive will book often his/her sessions for the next week after your lesson.
Check your calendar
Always make sure you calendar is up-to-date so that students can plan their sessions ahead of time- this will help them with structure, which encourages consistency, which means more sessions for you!
Don’t forget to actually follow through and fill out that feedback form. Check out this article for tips on giving killer feedback.
One thought on “7 Steps to Brilliantly Guide Your First Session with a New Student”
This is very helpful and reminds me a lot of what I was taught to do on my coaching programme. I agree the clarification of goals is very important and that summarising the goals back to the learner gives the individual a chance to clarify their thoughts and needs.
I’m a great believer in the soft sell. So at the end of a lesson give my students very specific feedback on what I noticed them do well and what they could do better. I want them to realise for themselves that I am helping them to learn and that with me they can learn faster and better. It’s better than telling them how great I am!
I’ll definitely give more attention to setting goals next time I have a new student. I’m impressed how many students are self motivated and know what it is they want to learn.