italki Teaching Tips: How do I create a course that fits my students needs?

Our italki Teaching Tips are real teaching tips from real italki teachers who have first hand experience teaching different students from all over the world.   We share these tips to help you become a better teacher.

How do I create a course that fits my students needs?

courses_sdIf it happens that a new student has a specific goal in learning French – test, job hunting, immigration, don’t promise you can help him/her if you are not competent in the field. If you are competent, then you know your job and I have nothing more to say.

1. You must know the student`s needs and his/her level. Their level is checked during the first lesson.
2. Find out the student’s goals (for what reason he wants to learn language: tourism, business, education, for fun).
3. After the first lesson, the teacher should give a brief summary of the aspects that need to be improved (speaking, reading, listening, and writing).
4. The teacher chooses materials for the student to improve student`s level and increase vocabulary.

Every single student is different and everybody learns differently. What works for one person, may not work for another. Most students have an idea of what they want and will tell the teacher. I have learned from experience that as a teacher, you must be flexible and willing to adjust your sessions for each and every student.

Communication is key between the student and the teacher. Sometimes a student will say they want a grammar lesson and half way through, I can tell that they are bored, so I will stop and ask if they would like to switch to general conversation. I also encourage them to tell me if I am not meeting their needs.

If you are not sure where to start, general, basic, real life topics are always a safe bet.

It is important to assess the needs of each student before beginning coursework. Depending on the kind of work you are doing with the student, an informal conversation may be enough to determine their current language level. For others, you may wish to request a writing sample. Next, you want to find out what the students’ goals are. For example, some students are working to improve formal communication and grammar while others may just be hoping to improve conversation skills. I recommend that you discuss goals with your student and try to nail them down as specifically as possible so you both know what you are working towards. Once you know where your student is with their skills and where they want to go, you can design a course that works with their needs. One of the best parts about tutoring is that it can be individualized for each student!

I create flashcards for my students to study before and after the lesson. I use the following flashcard app from microsoft:
My students love it and the best of all is that it is free.

I often read interesting and thought provoking articles with my students which I find online and copy into a document on my Google Drive.  As the student reads through the article, I highlight the words which they don’t know.  After class, I share the document with them so that they can review it. Every seven classes, we go through the words which they didn’t know in the past to see if they can recall the meaning.  Students love this exercise!

I use released standardized tests for my structured classes. This gives the student some ease with no fear of being able to think of the right words on the spot. It helps me to detect pronunciation errors AND it gives the student a real feel for the everyday language (vocabulary) in the United States.
This technique also gives a wide variety of subject areas at different levels of language knowledge.
One site I use is:



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