Making Target Language Stick

I’ve been teaching private classes, largely 1:1, for a few months now, and have been rewarded greatly with signs of progress from a number of them. I’ve seen vocabulary being recycled and used accurately, students noticing and fixing their own mistakes even a few weeks after I teach them a new grammar point, and one student who has shown interest in English for the first time after my classes. However, I’m not here to boast, as I’d say I’m only happy with the progress of about 60% of my classes. And it’s one of those students that has been becoming a problem for me.

Ben is 11, and picks up the target language quickly and easily in every lesson. His receptive proficiency seems to be much above average for his age, and I’m surprised at what he can produce when scaffded. But the language just doesn’t seem to stick.

We’ve been learning about the conjugations of present tense verbs, such as “I eat, he eats” and “Do you? Does he?”, for the last month, and by the end of every lesson he’s really good at it. He can form difficult sentences and express himself quite adequately. I just wish it would carry over to the next lesson! Every lesson we have to go back to the beginning and relearn the same grammar point, and it’s getting a little frustrating…

So I want to work out what’s going on. I have a few ideas already:

All of Us

1) My teaching has grown sloppy now that I’m only accountable to myself. I need to plan classes better and work harder for my students.

2) I’m not presenting the target language clearly enough, and it’s confusing Ben. This could be the case, as I expect him to remember the last lesson but then have to resort to recapping when it doesn’t happen. I may even have failed to present it clearly at the start of the unit.

3) I’m not engaging Ben at a deep enough level. He’s only getting a surface understanding of the target language and isn’t processing it deeply. In which case I need to change my classroom activities.

4) Ben just isn’t focusing well, isn’t doing homework or is just lazy in class. This seems the least likely, as he’s a nice kid and his mum’s an English teacher.

Ooooh, or could that be it?

5) His mum’s an English teacher.

Does that count as a possible reason for not learning English well? I guess it could work either way.

Whatever the reason, I’ve identified this as a class to watch. Maybe I’ll try recording it, but I’ll at least reflect more on it. Let’s work this out!

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One response to “Making Target Language Stick

  1. Pingback: Making Target Language Stick – Part 2 | Reflections on English Language Teaching·

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