By: Tutor Andy
My name is Andy, and I am a SuperTutor on Cambly with a 4.98 tutor rating with over 15,000 chats, and I have met over 3,000 students!
As you can tell, I’ve had a lot of time to consider whether preparing for my Cambly lessons is worth it or not. Lesson preparation is a widely discussed topic on Cambly Corner, so I wanted to share my opinion on the matter with you.
So, to prepare or not to prepare for your Cambly Lessons?
The Million Dollar Question
Telling teachers working at any brick-and-mortar school that they don’t need to prepare for their lessons would probably make them laugh. For others, the idea of not having to prepare would not only make them cringe, but it’s also thought of as quite unrealistic!
We realize pretty quickly that it’s not always the best idea to start a class without having prepared something. Especially for those of us who have regulars studying three, five or even seven days a week.
Depending on who you ask, you might discover that teachers take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to get ready for their classes.
Despite how long it takes you or anyone else to prepare, we can all agree that some students are great listeners, others are great readers, and some fabulous speakers. Soon, you begin to realize that your classes get even better when you prepare material specifically for the kind of student you will teach.
After all, we as tutors desire to guarantee our income and create an excellent experience for our students. That being said, the underlying question becomes how to be more successful at meeting and keeping our students.
I like to call it your student retention rate.
To determine that, we need to find a way to measure our success, and the clearest gauge is always highly debated in our community – the rating system.
The rating system haunts us initially, and boy, I always hated that update on Wednesdays!
Despite this, ratings are a reflection of how satisfied students are with your classes.
We all have unique teaching styles, and that’s okay! Focus on what you are good at teaching, whether it’s grammar, IELTS preparation, or pronunciation. Find what you’re good at and double down on that!
Finding your skills will not only make you a more confident tutor, but I promise you will also see a significant increase in your rating!
Preparation is Key For Each Cambly Lesson
I’ve found that having something prepared is the only real way to guarantee an almost 100% satisfaction rate with my students, and that way, I NEVER worry about ratings.
My students appreciate whatever I plan for them as they don’t have the opportunity to practice English outside of our lessons, and they trust that I have their best interest at heart.
When I prepare something myself, it shows my students that I am constantly analyzing their English abilities, and preparing a class specifically for their English learning needs.
After reviewing my testimonials, I’ve noticed that my students value the extra work that I put in to make the class perfect, and it feels good to know that I am adding real value to their studies.
The Best Part is Having the Freedom to Choose
Cambly’s mission has always been to provide native English conversation anywhere, at any time. That mission is what works well for the business, and that’s why students keep coming back.
Cambly became such a success because it also allows students to choose from many different types of classes.
Students and tutors are pretty much free to choose whatever they want to do in class as long as it focuses on speaking English!
Students can decide if they want to have a casual, friendly conversation or have a structured lesson from the Cambly library.
Cambly students just have to find a welcoming teacher skilled in what they would like to practise, book a reservation, and give it a go!
The students (and tutors) are free to personalize the lessons in any way they choose. Thus, giving us the freedom to prepare in whatever way works best for us, and our students.
15 Minutes a Day is My Rule of Thumb
I can’t begin to stress how important it is for me to review the things I’ll be teaching. Taking a few minutes before every class to read through the topics I’ll be discussing is essential for me to be the best tutor possible.
I’ve already reviewed and taught most classes in the Cambly library since students can enrol in the curriculum, and new courses are added consistently. I’m also able to make much better suggestions from the library when I know the lessons well.
Being familiar with the Cambly library helps when choosing classes at the last minute for new students. I can select a lesson I feel super comfortable teaching, which helps me make an even better first impression.
When choosing a lesson outside of the Cambly library, I might look for conversation questions based on a topic I’ve seen on the news or read about while preparing some other activities.
While preparing something for one of my classes earlier today, I came across an activity on the different uses of “just”, and I decided to create some questions to help me teach this on Cambly.
Linking into topics by using a question is an efficient way I’ve learned to introduce new ideas in class without breaking the flow. I then ask the student if they understood what I said and if any vocabulary terms were unfamiliar. I LINK, ASK, and BUILD onto the students’ vocabulary.
I make sure to get 15 minutes of daily preparation time per teaching day, just as I advise students to have 15 minutes of daily contact with the language.
Many of my regular students have been seeing me for two years (and some even more!), so I have to keep lessons fresh and fun!
I’ve created a four-step process to help me prepare for my Cambly lessons:
Step #1. Find the specific lesson I would like to study with my student for our class. It could be a lesson from the Cambly library, an article, worksheet, game, or a short video for a listening activity.
Step #2. Take a few minutes to read the lesson over, familiarizing myself with the vocabulary and verb tenses used.
Step #3. Think of how I want to link into the discussion and create questions related to the subject using keywords from the activity to keep the flow of the conversation going.
Step #4. Write down any synonyms, word groups, expressions or collocations I want to teach during class to expand the student’s vocabulary.
This four-step process is what I needed to become an even better tutor on Cambly and to feel totally free from stress or anxiety before a lesson.
I’m always trying to improve students’ vocabulary and overall English speaking skills, so these steps kept me from getting stuck in class and allowed me to keep the conversation flowing nicely. All it takes is 15 minutes per day!
I’ve realised many students don’t expect you to show them so many different ways of saying just one thing, so when you do, it creates a lasting impression and keeps them coming back for more!
Easy Does It
Remember to take it one step at a time! For example, when I began teaching, I thought I had to memorize every lesson in the Cambly library to see success.
I forgot that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
My advice is to start reviewing the lessons in the library when you have free time before and after your classes for the day.
And if a student requests a lesson you aren’t too familiar with, just take it slow and do your best!
It takes time to improve your skills, and it’s essential to pace yourself. That’s why I created the 15-minute system.
Burnout is real, and I struggle every day not to bite off more than I can chew.
I discovered that 15 minutes really is enough, and all it takes is dedication. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Follow my four-step process next time you’re preparing for one of your lessons, and I promise you’ll see a difference in how the lesson flows and your confidence!
Thank you for reading, fellow CamFam and other online English teachers!
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About the Writer
Andy is an English teacher from South Florida, currently residing in Sao Paulo. He’s been teaching for 12 years, managing language programs in South America. He began teaching in the offshore oil industry and slowly migrated to working onshore and then online. Check out his Cambly profile here!