Have you ever wondered why a student didn’t book another lesson with you?
This isn’t an easy question to answer so we decided to ask 100 students for their reasons.
1. My teacher failed to understand what I needed. I want to learn business English but all the exercise material is for general English only.
Tip: Check the article: How to manage student expectations
2. My lessons with community tutors are just random chat. They got carried away with the chosen topic and failed to correct my spoken mistakes therefore I don’t feel I’ve made much improvement.
Tip: Check the webinar recording: Best Practices in Teaching Conversation Practice
3. My teacher didn’t do any preparation for the lesson.
Tip: Check the article: Useful Teaching Tools and Resources to better prepare your lesson materials.
4. My teachers spoke a lot without listening to me. I had no chance to practice as my teacher kept talking.
Tip: Check the article to learn about student talk time. Learn about how to improve your listening skills here.
5. There was an internet connection problem and my teacher didn’t handle it well.
Tip: Always test your internet connection before the lesson and ensure that you and your student have agreed on a backup communication tool. If the lesson cannot continue, be professional and apologize for the less than perfect lesson experience as this will help you garner goodwill. Ask your student if they would like a refund or to reschedule the lesson and always respect their choice.
6. My teacher was late and didn’t even apologize. She regularly reschedules or cancels lessons and sometimes notifies me at the last minute. Other times, she forgot our lessons.
Tip: Always apologize to your student if you are late, explaining the reasons and try to make up for the missing lesson time caused by your late. Set an alarm for the upcoming lessons and ensure you will not forget about lessons. Actively manage your availability in your teacher calendar to avoid rescheduling and cancellation. If you have to, please notifies your student as early as possible.
7. My teacher is a professional teacher with a structured lesson plan used for every student. However, the teacher failed to identify my needs and customize his teaching to fit me. I feel like a student in a traditional classroom.
Tip: Always customize your teaching to your student’s needs, preferences and requirements. Make your lesson more student-centered.
8. I am a beginner but my teacher spoke too fast and in long sentences.
Tip: Speak slower and clearer and use shorter sentences when teaching beginners.
9. My teacher failed to clarify if he was going to use English to teach me German or use German to teach German. He never asked me.
Tip: Ask your students their level of target language and find out what bridge language is required if your student’s level is below advanced.
10. My teacher had a baby and it was too noisy having lessons with her.
Tip: Ensure a quiet teaching environment for lessons.
11. The learning material my teacher provided was too difficult for me.
Tip: Learn better about your students’ level and provide material that is appropriate for your students’ level.
12. My teacher raised his price.
Tip: Communicate price adjustments with your students and give them sufficient notice. Consider offering lower prices for your old students. You may change your price for the lesson requests from your old students by clicking "change price" button upon receiving the lesson request. You may also set another price for your old students by sending them a lesson invitation.
13. It was very hard to find a suitable time slot on my teacher’s calendar. She always asked me to wait.
Tip: Try reserving a time slot for your loyal students with Lesson Invitation.
14. My teacher took a one month break. I didn’t want to be left behind so I looked for a new teacher.
Tip: Give your students homework and tasks before leaving for your break. Keep in touch and check on their learning progress and let your student know when you will be back.
15. Every lesson is nearly the same. I feel a bit bored having lessons with the teacher.
Tip: Ask your students whether they want some changes in lesson arrangement, material and teaching methodology. Trying something new is a good way to motivate them to keep learning.
16. I don’t have the motivation to learn any more. It’s too hard.
Tip: Check the article and learn how you can motivate your students to keep learning.
17. My teacher kept asking me to buy lessons and packages. I felt pressured.
Tip: Explain to your students what you can offer them and how you can help them achieve their learning goals instead of pushing them to purchase lessons.
18. My teacher was great for the first 3 lessons. After I booked a package with him, he no longer took our lessons that seriously.
Tip: Maintain professional standards, ethics and consistency otherwise your reputation may be negatively affected.
19. My teacher was smoking whilst having lessons with me. He was not concentrating on our lessons.
Tip: Smoking, drinking or eating during lessons will distract your students from learning, and therefore are not encouraged. Keeping focused on the lesson is the bare minimum expected of teachers and shows your respect for your students.
20. My teacher asked me what I wanted to learn during the first lesson and did not teach at all. I was not sure whether I should book another lesson with her as the first lesson was ineffective and I felt my time was wasted.
Tip: Check the article and learn how to gain loyal students from the first lesson.
21. The teacher was rude to me. He said all Chinese speakers have difficulties in pronouncing “r” in English.
Tip: Stereotyping is against italki’s Teacher Code of Conduct. Respect students and understand that each individual is unique.
22. I was too nervous to speak during the lesson.
Tip: Check the article and learn how to manage your students’ nervousness.
23. It was hard to build a good rapport with the teacher.
Tip: Check this success story and find out how teachers can build rapport with students. Find out the topics your student is interested in.
24. My teacher seldom answered my questions in the messages. I guess she was too busy.
Tip: Always respond to your students’ messages promptly.
25. I felt embarrassed that my teacher asked me about my personal life.
Tip: In some cultures, students may feel uncomfortable when being asked about their personal life. Check the article about the common characteristics of students from different regions and find out how teachers handle those situations.
26. My teacher discussed religion and politics with me.
Tip: We recommend avoiding topics related to religion and politics.
27. I was 10 minutes late for my lesson but my teacher didn’t wait for me or respond to my messages.
Tip: Teachers should be available to teach during the entire scheduled lesson time. Check the lesson policy.
28. My teacher had her own cancellation policy. She didn’t allow me to cancel 48 hours before the lesson started without paying for the whole lesson.
Tip: We have a standardized lesson, cancellation, and rescheduling policy which applies to all teachers and students. These policies were designed to prevent confusion and to make it easier for everyone. Check the lesson policy.
29. My teacher recorded our lesson without asking for my consent.
Tip: Always ask your students for consent if you want to record the lesson.
30. My teacher was not professional in teaching kids. My daughter did not like the teacher.
Tip: Learn the best practices of teaching kids.
Big time thank you for the article!
That was really helpful and made me understand that I have made the right choices and I am so glad that it worked out. Although my slot is weekly fully taken I have regular and loyal students because it is not only a matter of extending the red carpet but being attentive and considerate to the students needs.
It is a shame that many teachers and tutors will not read this article because it could really be enough in terms of avoiding mistakes that will jeopardize the whole thing. Although I also happen to agree with my peers that italki sometimes charge so little from students, for instance, they accept students who don't place a simple profile picture. Such a simple thing! We teachers are sometimes in the dark as well.
Long life to italki!
L'articolo è sicuramente utile per chi ha poca esperienza di insegnamento e non ha seguito corsi di didattica sull'insegnamento della lingua. Sicuramente è utilissimo se qualcuno, entrando in classe, "dimentica" che ci sono anche regole comportamentali da seguire mentre si fa una lezione e che l'insegnante deve sempre dimostrare di possedere anche un modello di educazione ineccepibile.
I think this list might be a bit discouraging to some teachers. For example, I feel like sending a bunch of messages to a low level student will overwhelm them. Also, I have taken the advice of thanking each student for booking a lesson and asking them what their goals are, but almost no students respond to the messages I send. Maybe 2 total have done so.
I think the problem of understanding the students needs is not solved by the teacher info form. All incoming students should be required to take a level test, such as duolingo's. Ideally the test would determine some things they could improve, and the student could confirm those items. I know italki wants to give teachers autonomy and I really admire that, but when only one out of seventy students gets what they are looking for, I feel like that isn't an issue with my teaching. If not a level test, then something to break up the notion of cup and bottle teaching, where I'm a jug full of water and the student is an empty cup and I simply pour the knowledge into them. I think italki needs to be a bolder about shaking up peoples' expectations about learning. Not sure if I was able to state a clear case for that, but yeah.
I'm a community tutor (with many students who book multiple lessons) but when I imagine myself as a student I feel that it's more likely that I wouldn't continue taking frequent lessons with someone because I don't want to spend that much money on something that I can learn by myself watching videos and talking to myself (how I learn languages.) I know not everyone learns that way, but it is true that many students are not financially committed to investing this much, or mentally committed (and there's nothing we can do to convince them.) The reality is that most people cannot maintain the same level of motivation over a long period of time for something in their life that's not required of them, no matter what we do. That being said, there are some points on this list that are unacceptable and easy to avoid if you're a decent teacher. I think we have to take responsibility where it's obvious but also understand that at the end of the day we can do everything right and the student still may not be financially/mentally committed.
Yep I agree with most of this. Now we need the teacher's version. Most of the time I give everything, additional material, clear explanations and they don't study at all :S so next lesson we need to study again.
I agree with Karen Munoz. Teachers should have the opportunity to express their views as well. I think that most of the students expect teachers to be perfect, but almost no one takes the time to ask for the teachers' point of view. I would be more than glad to take part in such a survey.
While I agree with the list, another question comes to my mind: did the students say what do they need? Being a teacher with some years of experience and teaching the same people for years (over 100 lessons booked by one person) I know that very few people respond to the messages when I ask them before our first lessons about their learning experience, goals, expectations. I can't read anyone's mind and guessing only by the profile on Italki is fairly not enough. It maybe the reason why now I teach only the "old" students. Another problem is that they don't read the course description and they book, for example, a conversation for advanced learners while they can just say "Hello" in Polish (the language I teach on italki) so how could I be prepared for that?
And, I am a language learner myself. I teach and study on italki, so I'd dare to say I know both sides of the problem.
Thank you for the list! It's helpful. As a teacher, I'd like reply to some of the comments above. I usually get replies from almost all of the people I message. If they are booking a trial lesson for conversation, I start correcting their mistakes almost immediately (kindly, of course). I think that helps students build trust in you as a teacher. I would suggest that if the students do not reply to a message asking an important question, you should not accept their lesson request. When you decline it, just explain to them that it was because you felt you didn't have the information needed to prepare and leave the option open for them to book again if they reply. I have some students who have a huge time difference with me in their countries. I let those students know if it is not likely I can meet their needs for booking so they can choose whether it's worth it to book a package. Being honest and upfront always helps!
It's useful article , Thank you.
Every time I teach I really think about students.
His purpose that he wants from studying each time.
And find ways to support him to succeed.
That gives students the benefit of studying in every class.
Hi dear teachers! As a student I would like to share my point of view, too. There are so many good teachers on italki. With different personality, spoken languages, experience, age, gender and focus. I really think you should not take it personally if a student does not book you anymore. It can just happen that one teacher fits better than another one. I would stuggest you to dare to show more of your personal interest. For me it is really important to find someone whom I feel on the same wave. And that is just not easy, at all! The more one feels «safe», the more you can open up about yourself and your feelings and thoughts, experiences. Teaching a language for me is about knowing myself better and daring to express myself! I will definitely not talk about other people, but about me and my opinion in a discussion. So, that said, keep up the good work, and maybe also dare to ask your students to give you a feedback! We all need feedbacks! Good luck with your old and new students!
Oui, je suis d'accord.
I frankly find No.21 a bit ridiculous. This is something I hear from Chinese students frequently, and is simply result of the differences between the languages. Although I agree the teacher shouldn't have said this, it's hardly stereotyping.
This article is great and so, so important. If you want your clients to be loyal to you, you need to understand their needs... but you also need to communicate your needs to them clearly and set limits, or you are going to burn out really quickly.
For example, even though I am a community tutor only (for now) many students have asked me for teaching and even if I can teach kids. If you don't state clearly what you do and who you are, students will misunderstand what you are offering and you both will be disappointed when you can't help the students as much as you'd like.
Generally, this article is amazing, but...
"10. My teacher had a baby and it was too noisy having lessons with her."
I don't have any child, and I will not have. Anyway, this point is not necessary as teachers are also humans, so maybe not everyone has the opportunity to give a kid to grandparents or friends, etc. I can understand if we spoke about animals, but kids? Seriously? Students also were kids and for sure maybe disturbed to their neighbors at a young age. For me, this point should be deleted from this article :<
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