I’ve been thinking about my students in the upcoming academic year. I still don’t know all the details about my classes, but I know it for sure that there will be many new faces in my class this year. As we all know every single student has to be treated as an individual since the personalised approach is the key to a successful course.
Imagine that you come to your first class, get to know your students and they all expect you to remember their names one week later. Impossible you may say, however, there is a way to do that, or at least help yourself.
My favourite way of remembering my students’ names is to use stickers or labels. You can use just a piece of paper (a half of A4), ask students to fold it in a half and write down their names and if you like ask them to draw a picture that characterizes them in any way. Ask them to put the folded piece of paper in front of them on the desk. Then ask the students to present themselves by explaining how the picture they drew charaterizes them. Make sure you have your own piece of paper with your name and a picture on, so you can start the activity and encourage your students to speak about themselves.
This simple activity is very student centered as well as it provides you with visual information and a personal association that will help you to remember your students, their names and even some personal information about them such as interests and hobbies. Ask them to bring the piece of paper with them for the next lesson as well.
Of course this activity only works with groups of students. You may think that you don’t need to use anything like that for your private students, but actually there are so many things you need to know about them that if you don’t prepare any activity of this sort or at least some questions for the first lesson, you may miss important points that could actually improve your lessons in future.
Some very important things (besides remembering their names of course 🙂 ) that you need to find out about your students:
- their interests
- materials they’ve used before
- if they’ve ever studied the language abroad (this is important in case the language you’re teaching has very specific accents and dialects)
- the reason of their studies (in case your students need the language for specific purposes)
- their expectations
Part of the necessary information may be avaliable at the director of studies of your academy so make sure you ask him/her about your students BEFORE you enter the class. This will save your class time as well as leave an impression of a very professional teacher.