How to handle your First Day as a Global LT Language Teacher
Starting a class with a new learner is exciting even if it can feel like there’s so much to do at the beginning. Don’t panic! Making a good first impression and getting your learner set up for a successful language program isn’t as hard as it can seem. We have some tips for you to have a successful first day as a Global LT Language Teacher.
When you meet, be polite, friendly and approachable. Chat with your learner. Ask questions about their life and interests. You’ll start cultivating a productive and cordial relationship right away by putting them at ease. In addition, this informal discussion is already giving you insight into their proficiency without giving them the pressure of feeling like they are being tested. This approach also reduces the time and effort needed for an “official” assessment in this first session.
Once you’ve established a rapport, explain how the sign-in sheets and cancellation work and confirm the schedule. Even on this first day, you will follow up and check the learner’s understanding just like you would in any language lesson: “Is it difficult to sign in for every lesson?” or “We’ll meet for 2 hours each time, right?” “Should you call, text or email to cancel a lesson?” The seemingly boring but necessary parts of Global LT policies are actually valuable teachable moments!
Understand how your student will use the target language
Next, you’re ready to clearly establish your learner’s needs. By asking specific questions, you will get useful information to help you develop clear language goals and from there a syllabus and curriculum for your learner. For example:
- Where do/will you use German?
- Who do/will you speak Mandarin with?
- What do you want to do in Arabic?
Materials and Lesson Focus
In the same way, ask questions to understand the most relevant materials and lesson content to help your learner meet their goals. For instance, you wouldn’t give a book of short stories to someone who hates reading or a grammar textbook to someone who says they need help understanding business presentations at work or at industry events. Ask questions like:
- Are you open to using lots of different resources that use language from your job?
- Do you enjoy learning by role-playing?
- Do you learn best by doing? By going to different places and practicing?
- Do you want ideas for how to practice on your own and use what you learned in class?
On your First Day, you should Perform an Initial Assessment
Through determining your learner’s needs and how they want to learn, you have already started assessing their language proficiency level. Now you can decide which skills you still need to assess in more detail: speaking, listening, writing or reading. Customize this! Of course, there’s not much point to assessing a learner’s reading skills if their primary goal is to understand coworkers at lunch. But if they plan on taking the TOEFL exam, an in-depth assessment of their starting reading level is important. Since your learner has already been speaking and listening for the entire class period, you’ve already got solid preliminary input for those assessments. This reduces the time you’ll need to figure out their level because you’ll already know where to start in order to push them to the ceiling of their current performance. (For more on this, watch our 2-minute guide to assessing learners in the Assessments & Progress Reports section of the GLTPortal.)
Once you’ve obtained the necessary background information, you can propose language goals for your learner. Based on their needs and assessed proficiency level, you can create realistic objectives tailored to their real-life needs and goals. Share a preliminary plan but tell them you will refine the plan and confirm it as well as a list of the resources you plan to purchase for them at the beginning of the next lesson. This will ensure you have planned a program that will meet their needs.
After your First Lesson
Submit the assessment report to your Client Services Consultant, type out a syllabus with the list of supporting resources. Confirm and adjust these with your learner during the second lesson.
Remember, you can always refine anything as you move forward. Also, it’s okay if you don’t get through everything by the end of the first class – if you feel rushed, your learner probably does too. Just let your CSC know that you will submit the assessment report following the second lesson. By getting to know your learner, establishing their needs, and assessing their level thoroughly, you’ll have everything needed to start creating a personalized plan for your learner. They will feel the effects of your careful planning that sets up both of you for a successful first day and successful lessons to follow.