Sunday, October 01, 2006

New Students

Recently, two new students were referred to me by the service that helps me find students. This is good news because it's boosts my part-time teaching income but also because it's interesting meeting new people. However, it's also stressful having a first lesson with a new person.

One of the main reasons it's difficult is that the students rarely accurately relate their level to the agency when they apply for lessons. I'm not sure if it's Japanese modesty at work or simply an inability to judge their own level but students often claim to have a much lower level than they possess. They also often say they speak poorly when they communicate pretty well. Of course, they judge themselves by comparing their ability to native speakers rather than simply considering their ability to get their message across and understand the message received.

The student I had today was intermediate to high intermediate in level but she said she was a beginner. This makes the first lesson more difficult because I prepare materials based on the expected level of the student. This afternoon, I had a very elementary lesson about basic meeting and greeting prepared only to find my student could answer nearly every free conversation question I asked with little difficulty.

Fortunately, the students erring on the side of saying their level is too low means you are pleasantly surprised when the lesson is smoother than you anticipated. I guess it's far better than the reverse situation happening.


Leo said...

I would have never considered the preparation for teaching a certain lesson level only to have it be the incorrect level. I also tend to rate my Norwegian conversation skills lower than they really are, mostly because of comparing myself to native speakers and self-confidence.

Shari said...

I think most people don't think about the teacher's prep needs for lessons. But you can see how it's an issue if someone preps for a person of "hi, how are you? My name is..." type lesson only to find you're lightyears beyond it.

I don't really mind so much and really do understand the desire to understate one's level.