Feeling the Pressure: How a Student's Comment Forced Me to Rethink My IELTS Lesson Plan

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As an English teacher, it's always disheartening to hear a student say that they feel unmotivated and unproductive in class. Recently, I had an experience that left me feeling particularly shocked and disappointed. During a substitute teaching session for an IELTS class, one of my students expressed that he didn't feel motivated or like he was gaining anything from the course.

How a Student's Comment Forced Me to Rethink My IELTS Lesson Plan

This feedback hit me hard. As a teacher, I take great pride in designing lessons that are engaging, interactive, and effective. So, hearing that one of my students wasn't feeling the benefits of the course was a major blow. Even though I wasn't the main teacher for that class, I realized that I needed to change my approach and try some new tactics to reignite my student's motivation and help him feel more invested in the learning process.

The first step I took was to talk to the student to find out exactly why he was feeling unmotivated. I asked him questions about what he was hoping to gain from the course, what specific areas he was struggling with, and how he preferred to learn. Through this conversation, I was able to gain some valuable insight into what was causing his lack of motivation.

One of the biggest issues that emerged from our conversation was that the student felt like the lessons were too focused on theory and not enough on practical application. He was looking for opportunities to put his knowledge into practice and see how the concepts he was learning applied to real-life situations. This feedback was incredibly helpful as it gave me a clear direction for how to adjust my teaching style.

With this in mind, I decided to change my approach in class from the typical ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) to TTT (Test-Teach-Test). Firstly, I gave him a writing task 1 question to complete within 20 minutes. After he finished, we went through his response together and used the IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Descriptor to check his work. This approach helped him to see where he was going wrong and understand what he needed to do to improve.

You can download IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Descriptor here

We continued this practical approach in the speaking section of the IELTS test. Instead of just discussing the criteria and band descriptors, we put them into action. The students had a role-play situation where they took turns playing the IELTS examiner and candidate, asking and answering questions. During this activity, I asked them to record their responses using Vocaroo and send me the link. This allowed me to listen to their responses at a later time and give them specific feedback on their pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

Read more about why I love using Vocaroo in IELTS speaking activities.

practical application of IELTS Speaking section in the classroom

By incorporating more practical application and hands-on activities into the lessons, I was able to help the student feel more engaged and motivated. He began to see the practical benefits of what he was learning and how he could apply his new knowledge to real-life situations. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to see the student's confidence and motivation grow throughout the course.

I also made sure to provide regular feedback and encouragement to the student. By acknowledging his progress and praising his efforts, I was able to boost his confidence and keep him motivated to continue learning. I also made myself available outside of class hours to answer any questions or concerns he had, which helped to build trust and foster a stronger sense of community within the class.

feedback I gave to my students for their IELTS writing task and speaking responses

In the end, the changes I made had a positive impact on the student's motivation and performance. He began to actively participate in class and show a genuine interest in the material. By taking the time to understand his needs and adjust my teaching style accordingly, I was able to help him see the practical benefits of the course and feel more invested in the learning process. 

teachers need to be flexible to change the lesson plan if necessary

This experience taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of being flexible and adaptable as a teacher. Every student is different and has their own unique needs and learning styles. By taking the time to understand these needs and adjust our approach accordingly, we can create a more engaging and effective learning experience for everyone.

Have you ever faced a situation where a student expressed a lack of motivation or progress in your class? How did you handle it? What changes did you make to improve their learning experience? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below.

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