In order to manage expectations, you first need to understand what those expectations are.
From our research, a major reason why a student does not book a second lesson with a teacher is that teachers fail to meet their expectations. In a 1-on-1 online language lesson, most students expect that the teacher will offer lessons that are customized to their needs. Therefore, it is essential to understand students’ needs so you can be prepared for the lesson.
When you receive a lesson request from a brand new student, we recommend:
- Assuming that the student is a beginner (unless it is obvious they are not).
- Take the initiative to ask questions in both your language and the student’s native language using a translation tool.
- Do not assume the student has read your introduction and lesson description. Students may not read or may not fully understand what is written.
Immediately message the student and thank them for choosing you.
Ask the student:
- What their objectives are
- What their language level is
- If they have any particular preferences, including preferred topics, teaching methodology, learning activities, homework etc.
- Do they want the teacher to lead and plan the lessons? Do they prefer talking most of the time while the teacher plays a role as a facilitator?
(These questions can also be specified in your Contact Teacher Form)
Here are some example scenarios of how to respond to, discover, and manage student expectations.
- Scenario 1 - The student responds promptly and answers all the questions and you can decide if you can meet their expectations.
- Accept if you can, decline the lesson request if you can’t. When declining please write a polite explanation for your reasons. You may suggest that you are not the most appropriate teacher for this student. Please appreciate that the student may not understand why you’re rejecting them, they may take it personally, particularly when they may have taken a long time searching and comparing teachers before selecting you.
- Scenario 2 - The student doesn’t respond so you’re faced with either accepting or declining the lesson request.
- If you accept, you may be going into the lesson with no idea of what the student expects so all you can do is prepare yourself by having topics, content, games, exercises etc ready.
- You can decline the lesson request if you don’t feel comfortable. When declining please write a polite explanation for your reasons. Please appreciate that the student may not understand why you’re rejecting them, they may take it personally, particularly when they may have taken a long time searching and comparing teachers before selecting you.
- Scenario 3 - The student is unable to or cannot accurately explain their expectations, or maybe they themselves are not clear.
- You’ll have to apply some interview techniques to find out their true expectations. Try to be empathetic and think from your student’s perspective.
Teacher: What is your learning objective?
Student: I think I need to improve my English writing skills.
Teacher: Why do you want to improve your English writing skills?
Student: I am working as a secretary in a company. I need to take meeting minutes and write business reports in English.
Teacher: What difficulties have you faced when doing those writing tasks?
Student: My manager thinks the words I used are inappropriate.
Teacher: Could you show me some work that you have written for your company?
In this scenario, students may tell you only a little bit about their needs. Dig deeper and ask open questions to follow up. This will help you to gather more information about the problem so that you can fully understand their needs.
Analyze the information from your student and plan the lesson accordingly. For Professional Teachers, we highly recommend that you discuss the lesson plan with your student and adjust it to their needs before the lesson starts. This will give your student confidence that you’re attentive to their needs and increase the probability of them booking more lessons with you.
Thanks Italki. I really need this. 😊
I've been doing this since the first day I started getting new students, even though inexperienced. Great that italki is trying to improve the quality of teaching her because as I am also a student on here I can say, there's a lot to improve upon.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the improvements you feel we should make?
I agree with all the suggestions made in this post and I really admire how italki is trying to improve both the service delivery and teacher satisfaction at the same time. However, I would even add that many times all of these steps that many tutors and professors would find "extra" may be a lot to ask when many can't even meet a bare minimum standard. What I mean by that is that many tutors and professors alike, fail to meet the bare minimum standard. Most of the teachers I have had talk wayyyyyy too much, I'm talking more than 40-50% of the time and more often than not don't even give corrections. Each teacher sets their own terms and each student agrees to them, sure, but I feel like there should be a 'bare-minimum' standard. Of course, all of these tutors or professors I am referring to, have lots of students, good reviews and a good student to lesson ratio, but after asking around what kind of students they tend to have, they say beginner-intermediate (French and Spanish tutors), so maybe they are used to dominating the conversation and don't bother making corrections because there are so many mistakes. That's all fine, and if there is demand, there will be supply. I just feel so frustrated after trying over 30 tutors and professors that the same issue keeps cropping up. Lastly, yes each student can express this to their tutor/professor and handle it themselves but when I have tried they often get sensitive because they are not used to criticism on italki because most students are afraid/hesitant to be honest, as comments aren't anonymous and you may might think you will hurt the teachers feelings. Many times I feel like I am paying someone for a language exchange and and very much considering to not pay for lessons anymore.
All in all, I do like how the italki team seems to agree that students' expectations are appropriate, it's the teachers that need to adjust.
P.S. I am a professional teacher on italki as well as a veteran student, so I can speak from both sides.
So great! Thank you for this, it's so much help!
Jenay thank you for your comment on this. Great point!
Thanks very much for sharing this knowledge with us.We really appreciate that.
I agree with you Jenay, I am a professional Teacher on Italki as well, and in average, I speak 15% doing specific questions and my students usually speak 85% I think it is the best way to them to be fluent in a language.
Thanks, I will use these tips.
Thank you italki,
I agree with this article. It is important to know about the student needs before the first class.
Very important article
thanks mush Italki. this article is very helpful.
Thanks a lot, italki team! It is an illuminating article for reviewing my teaching approach.
What a helpful article. Thank you for the support, italki team!
I will like to thank the Italki support team for this wonderful article. I will also like mention this, a student told me after our first lesson that she had her first lesson with a potential tutor but the tutor didn't gave her the chance to explain what she really wish to achieve as she learn English language. So we should learn to talk less and give our students the chance to express themselves during the lesson. Ask questions and let the talk. That will keep them attra
I will like to thank the Italki support team for this wonderful article. I will also like to mention this, a student told me after our first lesson that she had her first lesson with a potential tutor but the tutor never give her the chance to explain what she really wish to achieve as she learn English language. So we should learn to talk less and give our students the chance to express themselves during the lesson. Ask questions and let them talk. That will keep them attracted to you.
Thank you for the support, italki team!
Thank you Italki for the clear guidelines and specific examples! Very helpful to get us started in the right way
Fais-toi un horaire fixe hebdomadaire (périodes d’étude et de travaux, heures de lever et de coucher ainsi que de repas).
This is extremely helpful.
detailed and informative
thank you for your support!
This was very helpful, Thank you
Very helpful, thank you.
Very helpful, many thanks
Merci pour ces outils vraiment utiles
This is a good article, thank you!
It also shows that we respond to those who show a definite interest in classes by booking one. Recently, I've had a student trying to force me to give free help with the promise that they would book. That seems a bit dodgy to me and I've had cases where I helped and they replied by saying they were too busy to book. It is not that I can't help, but I think this is the wrong mindset. Anyway, I hope italki will continue posting great articles like this one.
Please sign in to leave a comment.