The great thing about working for VIPKid are the type of students we get to teach. Most students at VIPKid are motivated and eager to learn.
Many students work very hard to learn the material and do it in a way that pleases the teacher.
However, like any school, VIPKid has a fair share of weak students as well.
This post will address some common problems you may run into if you are a VIPKid teacher and how to address these problems.
Things to Remember
As a VIPKid teacher, you should approach every lesson and class with a few things in mind:
1. Praise for everything you can. You want the students to be confident in what they are learning and not be afraid to try.
2. Correct mistakes – You should speak corrections to help the auditory learners, circle and underline words, phrases and sentences to help the visual learners, utilize TPR and props to help the kinesthetic and tactile learners.
Furthermore, make every effort to encourage the students to be fully engaged in every lesson.
3. Encourage students to practice what they learn in your lessons before they take the next lesson. Give parents step by step directions on how they can encourage and help their child to practice in class feedback that you write after the class.
4. Know what they will be assessed on in each unit and focus on the vocabulary and learning objectives of those learning units. You want your students to score high on their assessments to build their confidence in their use of English.
5. Focus on student struggles and implement lots of repetition of the difficult material. As mentioned above you want the student to practice and the best practice is with you, the English teacher.
Give the student lots of practice especially with words, phrases, and grammar that they may struggle with.
6. Keep notes on your students. It is difficult with a new student, but most students have some type of teacher to teacher feedback, read it.
As you acquire regular students, you need to know those students and know their weaknesses in order to help them overcome the gaps that they have in their English.
Keep good notes and refer to them before you teach your students. Remember, you are attempting to help a student become a fluent English speaker.
Types of Weak Students
1. Beginning English Learner – Everyone must start somewhere. You will find lots of beginning English learners in the Major Course Level 1 classes and there are beginners in levels 2 and 3 as well. You will find them in the trial and supplemental classes as well.
2. The Repeaters- These students are students that simply repeat everything the teacher says. Many beginning English learners fall into this category as well.
3. The student that doesn’t understand. These are students that have a very basic vocabulary, so they are confused on the meaning of many English words.
4. The student that struggles with pronunciation. – The pronunciation problems vary, and you will see them across all levels and courses at VIPKid.
5. The student that struggles with reading. Some students are good at reading and others are not. You will see this across all levels as well.
6. The behavior problem – students that don’t know how to behave and VIPKid as some of these types of students too.
The Common Problems
New students or beginning English learners. Beginning English learners will be weak They will not have a basic English vocabulary. They will be weak with phonics and grammar. They will lack confidence.
Students that repeat or parrot everything a teacher says is a sign of weak student. Working with a student that repeats everything can be very difficult, and a teacher must be very patient.
Students may repeat for several reasons: they are still new to learning English, they are unsure of themselves, or they are acting out (a behavior problem).
Students have a very basic or little to no English vocabulary. This should be expected with a new learner. It may be indicative of a student that doesn’t practice.
Students that are weak in phonics. The reasons for this vary depending on the student.
Students are not able to read beyond simple phrases or sentences. Again, reasons vary, and you will need to investigate to figure out the root cause in order to overcome this problem.
Finally, some students are legitimate behavior problems. You will see this on all levels and courses. The good news is that it isn’t as prevalent as you may see or hear about in a traditional school in North America.
In each of these scenarios: the teacher will need to evaluate the student, diagnose the problem, have a plan for addressing the problem, address the problem, and repeat until the problem is resolved.
Let’s take a closer look at how to address these weak students.
Solutions and Ideals
New Students- It is important to remember that new or beginning English learners may be very intimidated. It is important to build their confidence and to give them as many opportunities to succeed as possible.
You will want to focus on basic vocabulary and lots of repetition. You should expect these students to repeat and keep in mind that repeating words and phrases at this level is appropriate and helpful.
Encourage them to repeat and reward as much as you can.
Repeaters – The first thing a teacher needs to do is determine the reason for the repeating or parroting. Are they a new student? If so, repeating should be expected and encouraged.
Are they unsure how to answer? You need to make sure they understand instructional vocabulary and you may need to assist them with some basic vocabulary to help improve comprehension.
You may need to model how to answer questions. Utilize a puppet to model how to ask and answer questions. Utilize TPR to help convey what you want the student to say and do.
Is the student repeating as a way to act out? Make sure the student knows what you expect and if it is truly a behavior problem document it in your feedback to the parent and the learning partner.
Basic or Very Little Vocabulary – Again, the teacher needs to evaluate the student and determine why? If the student is new, then repetition will be helpful.
Words should be repeated in a variety of ways with pictures, props, TPR, and the actual words themselves. The words the student needs to learn should be sung, shouted, said quickly and slowly and used in a sentence.
If time allows, use any extra time in class to reinforce the vocabulary. Again, encourage the student to practice between classes and encourage the parents to assist if they can.
Phonics or Pronunciation Problems – Make sure that you are teaching synthetic phonics.
If you are unsure of this make sure you take a workshop on phonics at VIPKid to have the confidence to help the struggling student. Use these tips:
- Break large words or phrases into smaller words or phrases
- Utilize TPR while teaching phonics
- Encourage the parents to have the student practice the pronunciation that they are struggling with.
- Have them clap out the syllables.
- Sometimes, pronunciation problems stem from reading or going to fast- slow the student down.
Reading Problems – Be prepared to assist with reading, especially if the sentences or passages are long, they may need to repeat parts of the reading that seems difficult for them.
Break passages and paragraphs into smaller sections. Attach as much of the reading to TPR as possible. Utilize the chat box to assist with reading and have the students answer questions in complete sentences.
Parts of sentences that are difficult for a student should be underlined, corrected, and give the student an opportunity to correct what is spoken.
Again, let parents know in the feedback what sentences or phases should be practiced. Encourage them to watch the video playback and practice the parts of the reading they struggled with.
Behavior Problems – You need to diagnose the cause of the problem if possible. Is the student intimidated? (this is very common with the younger students).
You may want to use a puppet of some type of ice breaker to put the student as ease. Is the student tired? You may need to be patient, document, and simplify tasks that the student is expected to perform.
If the student is legitimate behavior problem, you need to document it in the feedback and let the parent and learning to partner know.
Make sure you are using a secondary reward system and the stars- use them to try to motivate your student to comply. Do NOT hesitate to call the fireman if the behavior is extreme or unsafe for the class.
My Final Thoughts on working with weak students…
Well, I hope this gives you a better understanding of the problems that you may encounter in a VIPKid classroom and what you can do to resolve those problems.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, most VIPKid students are motivated and are a pleasure to teach. If you are going to be a successful VIPKid teacher, you need to be prepared to help the weak students as well.
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