My new student feels like he hasn’t progressed on Cambly in 3 years. His subscription runs out in 6 months, what can I do to help?

Dear Cambly,

I got a new student this week. He has been on Cambly for almost 3 years. His subscription is running out in 6 months and he will not be able to afford another renewal.

He is so discouraged with his progress that I almost started crying. He has excellent reading ability, but lacks reading comprehension. He also hates all the traditional teaching methods used by me and his previous teachers. SO I need to think outside the box. PLEASE HELP! I want him to make rapid progress. I am open to trying anything to keep him motivated happy and end his subscription on a positive note.

Signed, Concerned Tutor

Dear concerned tutor, 

Language learning is a true journey that requires plenty of elements of dedicationmotivation, and goal-setting. It can be hard sometimes (take it from someone currently learning Spanish) to keep motivation when it feels like you’re progressing very little. It sounds like your new student may be losing motivation or lacking specific goals. The good thing is that both of these issues have an easy fix if the student is willing to try something new and push themselves like never before. When my students have times when they lose motivation, which is entirely normal (we all struggle from time to time), I divide the class time. I use part of the class to focus on what they need help with, such as incorporating the reading comprehension techniques listed in the following two links and practice, practice, practice. Link one. Link two.

I especially love the technique whereby we discuss the situation first so that they have the CONTEXT before they begin reading. Starting right out of the gate can be confusing for the student, especially when it’s a news article with many unfamiliar vocabulary terms. Understanding the context of a discussion is crucial for overall reading comprehension. Then in the latter half of the class, I focus on activities that the student is good at but is still growing. If my student is a good writer, I have them write something before each class and focus on the strengths while still providing corrections. This method will keep their confidence up while still learning new things. 

Remember that motivation is a critical factor in anyone’s learning journey. We can’t motivate a student 100%; it has to come from within most of the time. After all, we only see our students for a small portion of their day, and we are ultimately not responsible for what they choose to do or not to do outside of lesson time. But, we can cheer and clap from the sidelines while still providing the best tools for success. Finishing every class with a high score in whatever the student is good at can go a long way in encouraging them to keep pursuing their goal. Ensuring the student has a fun, positive experience has immense value. 

If motivation is not the issue, then sometimes, realistic goal setting is the problem. Meaning, maybe the student doesn’t have clear goals, or perhaps their goals are entirely unrealistic. There’s an opportunity to help your student define (or redefine!) their goals in the next six months. Find out what their goals are so that you can help clearly define them and set them up for success. 

We all need measurable goals to work towards and tick those boxes when we accomplish something. Plus, your student may even change his mind about leaving and continue studying with you once he sees his progress!

P.S. Do we know what “traditional teaching methods” your student experienced in the past? The first thing I’d do with the student is have an honest conversation with them. What do they like/dislike in regards to learning? What kind of learner is he? Then use that information to determine where you should go, but always remember to motivate, ensure the student is dedicated to their English practice, and set attainable goals. 

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Toucan

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