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ESL Teachers - Creating a Learning Plan

ESL Teachers - Creating a Learning Plan

Author: Paul Feiner
Description:

Create a customized learning plan that establishes clear goals and expectations for the course. Take time to understand your student's hopes and needs. Make them feel important and build immediate trust. If they leave their first lesson knowing what to expect from you, they are more likely to show up prepared, relaxed, and ready to learn.

Use the following steps to build a student-centered plan that reflects their learning style, ability, and commitment to your course:

Discuss Learning Philosophies

Show your student the following statements, and ask them to mark an 'X' where they fit on the spectrum for each. Depending on the level, you may discover early vocabulary words to practice (i.e. agree, goals, prefer).

Strongly Disagree | - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -| Strongly Agree

  • I have very clear goals for what I want to learn in this course.
  • I learn better studying two hours a week than 10 minutes a day.
  • I prefer to follow a textbook.
  • I don't have enough time for homework.
  • I learn new vocabulary very quickly.
  • All mistakes should be corrected.
  • I am responsible for my own learning, both during and after the course.

 

Discuss their answers

After the student has marked an 'X' for each statement, discuss their attitudes for learning in the following ways:

  •  I have very clear goals for what I want to learn in this course.
    • Help the student come up with SMART goals. Both of you keep a copy and use it to track progress.
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Frame
  • I learn better studying two hours a week than 10 minutes a day.
    • Remember: there is no best way to learn. 
  • I prefer to follow a textbook.
    • Personalizing a learning plan that meets specific student needs often requires pulling from many different resources. Explaining your student-centered approach helps build trust, especially for anyone who is used to learning from one book.
  • I don't have enough time for homework.
    • The homework question will help you gauge the seriousness of your student. If they don't want to work outside of class, reinforce the SMART goals and whether they are realistic and achievable without homework.
  • I learn new vocabulary very quickly.
    • Use this opportunity to discuss your approach to helping the student build vocabulary. 
    • Recommended: Build vocab through word families.
      • i.e. Noun - Happiness | Adjective - Happy | Adverb - Happily
      • i.e. Noun - Correction | Adj. - Correctable | Verb - Correct | Adverb: Correctly
    • Keep new vocab visible and integrate it into activities until mastered.
  • All mistakes should be corrected.
    • Explain that you will not correct all mistakes, and that mistakes are necessary for learning. The more mistakes they make, the more you know what to teach.
    • Correction techniques:
      • Model the correct way:
        • "She go to work every day." "Yes, she goes to work every day."
      • Elicit self-correction:
        • "She go to work every day." "She go?" "She goes." "That's right. She goes to work. Very good!"
      • If student does not self-correct, appeal to other students:
        • "She go to work every day." "She go? Does anyone hear a mistake?" "Yes, it should be she goes." "Very good!"
      • Only as a last resort, correct the student by giving the answer.
  • I am responsible for my own learning, both during and after the English course.
    • Discuss how the student can be proactive in their learning.
      • What resources are available (websites, level-appropriate books, TV shows, movies)
      • In what ways can they apply the language they are learning?
        • Relatives, Co-workers, Language meet-ups

 

Work the Plan

After going through this process, you will better understand your student's level and learning style. Taking the time to personalize a learning plan will create a team atmosphere where the goals and methods are understood by both the teacher and student. At that point, all that's left to do is to have fun and execute the plan.

Good luck!

 

CREATING A LEARNING PLAN

For ESL teachers working one-on-one, or with small groups of students, there is a great opportunity to personalize learning plans. As you begin a new course, the first day sets the tone. The better you understand their ability, the more able you will become to structure a learning plan. 

 

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