He was making bad decisions all term long, which resulted in failing the course. In order for Edward to pass my advanced academic ESL course and move on to English Comp, he would need to repeat the course. He would also need to change his habits such as coming late and forgetting assignments or doing them with little effort.
After he found out that he failed, I emailed him to let him know that I could give him advice about how he could pass next time. To my surprise, he asked for it.
My first impulse was to make a list of all the things that he needed to change in his study habits. Then I realized that there was a more positive approach that I could take to giving this advice.
I have found that students seem to be more affected by what other students do in a class than what an instructor tells them to do.
Opportunity for creativity
(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
A student of mine once wrote an essay about requiring parenting courses for future parents. In her essay, she mentioned her husband and 2-year-old child, which made for powerful support. I was quite surprised because, up until then, I had no idea that she was married, much less a mother. While conferencing with her, I told her about my surprise; she smiled and said that it was not true; she had just made it up.
Wow! What a clever idea!
Self-study conversation technique
When I was living in Japan and in Africa, I occasionally met a non-native English speaker who spoke almost fluent English with clear pronunciation, natural intonation and mature vocabulary and had great listening skills. Naturally, I assumed that they must have spent time in an English-speaking country or had English-speaking friends or a tutor, but all of them told me that they had never left their country and had little contact with English speakers. However, I soon learned that all of them had one thing in common: each of them had developed their oral skills through one fairly simple technique.
After the first day of the term a few years ago, I noticed a long line of students outside our Academic ESL (English for Academic Purposes—EAP) director’s office. It was my first day teaching in this program, so, needless to say, I was curious. It turns out these students all felt that they were not in the right level.
I soon discovered that this was a common occurrence on the first day of each term. During that first term for me, we made a change to the format of the courses. After that, students rarely complained about being in the wrong level. And students’ skills improved substantially. Here is what we did.