Standardized ESL Education?

By February 15, 2016 BlogPost No Comments

My previous student in WRD 378, Yeni, was a Mexican immigrant that moved to the states a few years back — she was receptive, and was able to learn from her mistakes and understand pronunciation after four or five tries. What had set her apart from other students, I think, was her ability to remember and learn from her mistakes: if she mispronounced “probably” or “unbelievable,” after correction, she’d remember for the rest of the class, as well as the class after.

She left last week from the tutelage program after family finance and health issues.

I was reassigned to Lukaz, a 24-year-old Poland immigrant that moved to the states two years back. Compared to Yeni, he’s much more assertive, proactive, and is interested in outdoor activities like soccer, wrestling, boxing, and so forth. My teaching method was roughly the same, with materials swapped to English-Polish instead of English-Mexican. As with Yeni, I included Anki flashcards, light novel read-aloud practices, voice recordings, and short, English-subbed movie clips. With Yeni, her interest was in science and the world around us, and that was the first clip I showed Lukaz. From our first lesson, it seemed he enjoyed it, but couldn’t fully grasp its contents, nor seemed glued to it like Yeni was, and he had difficulty writing/pronouncing all the words.

In our read-aloud, after he was able to pronounce a word (after reading about three-four sentences), he would quickly forget it after we read it through again.

This got me thinking: could Lukaz be a different kind of learner than Yeni, and the method in which I was teaching him was ineffective? If that’s the case, is there a standardized balance between different learning styles that streamlines the learning process for students, or do people differ so greatly that teaching can’t be standardized effectively?

In any case, I plan to change the readings and clips into more action, martial arts and sports-oriented — possibly movies or documentaries next class, and see how it goes. Perhaps other tutors/teachers have experienced similar situations and have advice on the matter?

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