6 Tips to Help New ELL Students Feel Comfortable

By: Tutor Jackie LR

Imagine this: You are in the process of learning or perfecting a language, and then you boldly thrust yourself into the world to practice speaking this new language. 

Perhaps this is your first time talking to a native speaker! Or, maybe you haven’t spoken the language since graduating high school. 

It can be nerve-wracking, even for the most confident of personalities

This is precisely the reason I enjoy teaching a class to students new to Cambly; I get to help them feel a little bit more comfortable!

Students come in all shapes, sizes and confidence levels. Despite their experience, there is almost always a slight hesitation when talking to strangers from all over the world. 

Initial classes often find students wondering if they have what it takes or asking themselves if the tutor can even understand them. 🧐

Imagine finding a friendly, patient, and welcoming face on the other side of the screen. 

As a tutor, you have the opportunity to create that safe space for students to take their first baby steps into English-speaking or to experiment with new phrases and vocabulary. 

They need to know they don’t have to be perfect and that mistakes are actually good because that’s when they can learn to make their English better for the real world.

Who knew teaching English on Cambly would also open my heart to embracing life lessons and failures?

There are lots of ways you can make new students feel more comfortable.

Here are 6 tips for tutors to help make sure they create a wonderful, fun and experimental environment for students eager to improve their English speaking skills.

Tip #1. Smile, Get Excited, and Welcome Them 

Whether it’s their first class or they’ve had a few already, this is your first class with them, and they are still newbies looking for a great tutor. 

Make your class extra welcoming. A smile is an easy, happy and super powerful tool for welcoming students and putting them immediately at ease. 

P.S. Don’t worry if they don’t smile back. So often, students are rigid or serious because they are concentrating so hard on putting thoughts together!

Give them a minute to get their thoughts in order. 🥰

Tip #2. Ask Them About Their English Experience

Asking about their English experience allows them to start talking from the get-go and gives you an idea of their English level right from the start.

Then, based on their information, you can gather countless ideas for what kind of lessons they will need. 

If that information was not enough, you could ask more leading questions: 

  • What kind of lessons do you think work best for you? 
  • What are your insecurities with English? (grammar, speaking, reading)
  • What are you looking for in a tutor?

Any of these questions will help you better understand their experience. The more you know about their experience, the better prepared you will be to help them. 

Tip #3. Ask if They Have Questions About The Platform

Students during their first session often have numerous questions on how to use the platform or how to organize their schedule with various tutors.

Asking them if they have any questions about Cambly is an excellent opportunity for you to show them how amazing Cambly is! 

Share your favourite tips with them, show them how to use the library, and ease any worries they may have about learning English on Cambly. 

Please note: Some students will not have any questions, at which point I continue with the class. However, it never hurts to let them know that you are always there to help with their concerns. 

Tip #4. Make Time to Share Tips & Recommendations

Even when students don’t have questions about Cambly, it’s good to leave a few minutes, perhaps at the end of the session, to share some tips and recommendations on how to optimize their experience using the platform. 

They are often surprised that it can be beneficial for them to talk to different tutors from all around the world, and not just one all the time. 

Or they may be glad to hear about new ways to make their lesson time more productive. 

Please share your knowledge with them! You’re the pro, after all. 😃

Check out my colleague, Mike’s, blog about how to properly give corrections and feedback.

Tip #5. Be Aware of How Much You Are Talking

I find that I tend to talk more during a class with new, nervous students. But I’m keenly aware of this and make sure that I mention this to the students because I want them to know that my goal is to get them to talk more. 

Sure, they are working on their listening skills, but most of them are on Cambly because they need to practice speaking.

New students sometimes need to be reminded that they can get away with talking less the first few classes while they get oriented. 

Although once they’ve become acquainted with the platform, they need to find tutors who motivate them to talk more, especially as they gain their confidence! 

After all, they are on Cambly to improve their speaking skills! Not their tutors!

Get in the habit of asking open-ended questions to encourage the student to speak more! This has helped me in getting my students to open up.

Tip #6. End Class with a Heartfelt Message

Sometimes, Cambly sessions end in the middle of a conversation when you aren’t keeping track of the time. You’ll see the “your session has ended” message and a blank screen. 

“Oh no!” You’ll think. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye!”

While this meant that you enjoyed the conversation so much that you forgot to check the time, it often leaves you feeling terrible that you didn’t have time to offer words of encouragement or give your student a heartfelt goodbye. 

It’s best to keep track of the time to allow a minute or two to share thoughts, first impressions, and suggestions at the end of class. Plus, it’s great to give them time to ask any questions they may have. 

Make this time personal! You may never see them again, or hopefully, they become a regular student! Regardless, it feels great to know you made those moments count and gave them a great experience.

In addition to providing an excellent space for practising English skills, the magic of Cambly is the connection it provides for students to people from all over the world. 

It’s such a fantastic opportunity to become a great conversationalist in the English language, not only for the student but also for the tutor! 

After working on Cambly, you’ll never be stuck making conversation.

Cambly is also a fabulous opportunity for us tutors to learn more about the world and become more empathetic, humble, and ultimately, better humans. 

It’s essential to make our first contact as memorable and warm as possible. Whether students have come to Cambly for professional development, for their studies, or to be able to travel the world and feel comfortable chatting it up with the people they meet, it’s all about the magic of human encounters and connections. 

What a wonderful opportunity to give a little magic to someone you’ve never met before. Enjoy the magic!

To build on my advice, check out my colleague, Sandra’s, YouTube video about winning over regular students! She shares countless helpful tips and offers a unique perspective on how to gain regular students.

Thank you for reading/watching! 🥰 Happy Tutoring!

About the Writer
Jackie was born in Canada and raised in Mexico, making her bilingual and bicultural. Teaching students of all ages for over 20 years combined with her translation and corporate world experience makes it easy for her to chat about absolutely everything! She now dabbles in writing, hoping to share a little happiness and wisdom from what she has learned along the way.

Check out Jackie’s Cambly Profile here!

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