Today I had a red man-to-man student. This student is an extremely cheerful and bright young lady and she is always a joy to teach.
One thing that I like about this student is that she always takes down notes in her tiny little character notebook. I was curious about what she had been writing in that book over all of our lessons and also the lessons that she had had with other teachers so I decided to have a quick look. I asked her if I could take a look through and she quickly yelled out `No——–! `. She was so embarrassed that I would find mistakes in her note taking and also at her notes not being neat but did agree and passed the note book over. I told her not to worry and while I was flicking through I could tell that her notes were rather comprehensive and that she had made a point to write down all new vocabulary and all of the one points.
`Right, test time`, I said to her and this produced another scream and a plea of `No—–! `. I then went through and checked her on some of the vocabulary from a lesson, which appeared to be from entertaining a foreigner. I asked her what she thought the words were in English and she managed to give me the right answers quite quickly. I then asked her tell me some of the grammar points that she had written down and again she was right there with a quick answer. I then came across her questions that she had written down from her pre-intermediate routines. I asked her the questions about other things, for example ` what’s happening today? ` Or ` will you go home by train today? `. She was able to give me an answer to all of these things. I was relieved and proud of her. She had managed to answer all of the questions with very little hesitation and had remembered things that she had actually studied more than 3 months ago.
This whole exercise took little more than 5 minutes at the beginning of the class. It achieved a number of things;
- It gave justification to this student that taking down all those careful notes during the classes actually pays off.
- It gave her renewed confidence in her English ability.
- It made her feel proud and gave her a measured test of her improvement.
- It made me feel extremely proud and satisfied that she had been reviewing, committing to memory everything that we had studied over the tens of lessons.
- It made both of us happy that we were working hard and improving.
It is often hard for a man to man student to really know whether they have improved and if they are making any headway with their English. Despite all of her protestations, the student learnt that all of her notes were worth it and it spurred us both on to try harder, her to study and me to coach.