Help! I just got another new student!

pick me

What happens when a new student enters your class at a very different level than the students who are already there? That’s the question a teacher would like to ask Villagers (that’s you!). Have you ever been in this situation? What advice can you share? 

Classes just began after the winter holidays and today I had ANOTHER new student. Her mother wanted her to be in the same class as her school friend, but her friend has been studying English for 3 years and this new girl has never studied English at all. There’s a huge gap between her level and the other students. I work at a language school, so I don’t have any control over who enrolls n my class. How can I help her catch up with everyone else, while not ignoring the other students or leaving them bored?

Whether the new student is higher or lower than the class, it certainly can change the dynamic. What suggestions can you give this teacher? 

Just in case you missed any of the previous problem and advice posts, I’ve collected them all in a new category: PLN Advice. Do you have a problem you’d like to ask the Village? We really are better when we work together!

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5 Responses

  1. If you have a flipped mastery model there shouldn’t be a problem. This started with a couple of chemistry teachers in Colorado who flipped their class and were given an exchange student in January who had no chemistry. They just told the student to start with the September videos and by the end of the year the student had completed 80% of the course. See my summary of the book they wrote called “Flip Your Classroom” at

  2. Barbara says:

    Thanks for sharing this example, Douglas. How would you adapt that advice for a foreign language teaching context where there are no lecture videos and students meet for one hour a week?

  3. Nada al-Jamal says:

    Perhaps the heaviest rock that drags language learners down is how helpless they might feel. Having her friend at the same class might help or harm her learning. Try some occasional class mixing so she would work with her friend one day then work with others for the rest. I wouldn’t recommend slowing down the pace of your class, but you can provide her with additional explanation. Making it seem as a total emergent class might be fun, and could present some friendly challenge. Children and younger teenagers absorb language quite fast. Try to identify her type of intelligence and her major interests and work your way from there. Wonders might happen, and best of luck!

  4. Alex Case says:

    With young learners I don’t have to change my lessons that much, because I already start all classes with a huge revision activity and some phonics, usually brainstorming games where anything they can come up with in the category (fruit, I have got sentences, personal questions etc) is acceptable. Keen students then quickly learn the other things we’ve learnt off the other students.

  1. January 18, 2014

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