A Great Strategy for Private Language Teachers
There are many different approaches to language teaching, and especially to private language teaching. Each student is unique and will respond differently to different activities and teaching styles. I’ve written before about the importance of motivating students by choosing resources and topics that are interesting to them. Today I present to you a strategy I use with all of my private students: Note-taking.
Keeping learning relevant with personalized note-taking
An the beginning of each class, I take out a fresh piece of paper (or open a fresh Google Doc if I’m teaching online), and place the date at the top. Then, throughout the class I write down all of the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation issues that come up or that the student asks about. Instead of interrupting the student while they are speaking, I simply jot down the different problems I notice throughout the conversation. At various points throughout the session I might go over some of the points, otherwise I wait until the end of the class to review everything. With beginner students, I write the translation of the words they asked, the verb conjugations they got stuck on, etc. but with more advanced students, I leave these parts blank and I ask the student to complete the sheet for homework.
I find that the note-taking strategy is one of the best for ensuring that students have quick access to the information they are looking for, and it helps them remember the key points of the lesson (especially if they don’t take their own notes). It’s a great strategy for keeping the language relevant to the needs of the student. It also helps me orient my lessons; if I notice that I am writing down the same grammar point over and over with a particular student, I know that’s what we need to work on. I’ve also gone back through old notes in Google Docs to create vocabulary quizzes and other resources based on what we’ve been working on.
A recent example
I have now been doing this with my partner, Gabe. Throughout our daily lives here in Peru, for example when we are in conversations with friends, I jot down a few points in a notebook. Later, I write them out and go over them with him. He is much happier with this than in our first months here when I would often interrupt him to correct him. And it gets right to the points he needs to work on. Here is the latest round of Spanish notes I took for Gabe: