This month’s chat was a heartfelt one for those of us who have struggled to walk the line between what (paying) students want/expect and the pedagogical realities of what they need. Many thanks to first-time summariser Andrea Rivett (@andrea_rivett) for disentangling the key points so neatly. The whole transcript is available on Andrea’s Storify here.
This is a summary of a #AusELT Twitter chat that took place on the 2nd May 2013, 8.30pm AEST. The discussion focused on dealing with students as ‘clients’ in various English language teaching contexts. If you’re keen to find out more about #AusELT, please join the discussion on the first Thursday of the month and join the #AusELT Facebook page. Looking forward to seeing you there soon… 🙂
Teaching contexts represented
The learning and teaching contexts represented in the chat were ELICOS, VET, private schools and schools. Participants were from Australia and Dubai.
Who are the ‘clients’?
It seems that the answer to this question depends on who is asked. “T’s NEVER call sts “clients” – but to sales/ management they often are. This affects their expectations.” @SophiaKhan4
Other responses included parents, previous learning institutions, future learning institutions and agents.
The big issues in the student/client discussion were seen as:
- Wanting/expecting individualized programmes
- Different end goals
- Varying motivational factors
- What have students been promised (before arrival)?
- Pressure/blame on teachers for not meeting demands
- Entry level/needs not appropriate for timing of end goal
- Financial and emotional investment
- Lack of student input in regards to their own progress/goals (passive not active learners)
- Management supporting students’ needs and not teachers’ needs
- Outside pressures for students – parents, institutions, agents
- Parents considering teachers as ‘employees’
- In some cultures it is acceptable to demand and expect more from the teacher
A unified front
“…we do need to manage expectations btween ss/teachers/management” (@NailahRokic)
“…a clear consistent msg from managers & Ts from the start can preempt a lot of problems” (@SophiaKhan4)
“…the college must be consistent with reponse to pressure” (@Eslkazzby)
“Educating sales people, Ts and management about realistic expectations” (@Eslkazzby)
For the teacher
“We need to consider their previous learning experiences” (@andrea_rivett)
“Managing expectations and regular consistent academic counselling” (@Eslkazzby)
“Sometimes it’s the dynamic/pace in the class so I move students to another class at the same level” (@Eslkazzby)
“U should be able 2 identify & congratulate sts on their strengths & be specific on what needs work.” (@SophiaKhan4)
In regards to testing
“Don’t just accept offshore testing. Test again on arrival. Use speaking test to discuss goals.” (@Penultimate_K)
“We can’t be ruled by exit evals. I do evals every 3 mnths between tests 2 avoid risk of bias.” (@Eslkazzby)
For the learner
“In my experience, if Ts and mgmt can provide clear and specific reasons why, e.g. a student can’t level up, Ss are often satisfied …Ss need to know that professionals are tracking their progress carefully, rather than just letting them languish in wrong class.” (@ElkySmith)
This summary by @andrea_rivett
Update: Further reading
Article on The Conversation website by Geoff Sharock, Program Director at the University of Melbourne: ‘Students aren’t customers…or are they?‘ 9 May 2013. Spotted by Phil Chapell, @TESOLatMQ
Great blog post that will strike a chord with many: “I want to change my level” by Tyson Seburnt (@seburnt)