When The Path Becomes Bumpy… Part Two.

Following on from last weeks post, here are more ideas for helping intermediate students continue their progress. You can read last weeks post here.


Every class should begin or end, depending on your preference, with a five minute catch up of what was learned in the last class and since. It seems obvious, I know, but it often gets neglected at higher levels. I think it’s just as important at this stage, because we need to make the student aware of the learning that is taking place.

Record speaking…

…transcribe it, listen and check it later. It can be difficult to pay attention to some of the more fossilised errors that can occur with higher levels when you have other objectives in mind. You are probably working towards another objective or too engaged in the conversation (I hope!) to notice particular problems, which could be with vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation.

If you record your conversations with the student, with their awareness and consent, you have the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. You can work on fluency first and then accuracy, and going back to a recording can help you achieve both in a way that is difficult otherwise.
You then have a text with which you can utilise for a whole range of activities. For example, you can type part of it up, and give it back to the student, asking them to correct any errors they can see in the text. After they are happy with their corrected version, you can ask them the same question again, and without their written version, they can try again.

Spelling log

This is a more detailed activity, but as I stated last week, we do need the student to realise that learning is taking place and this is one way that we can do that. It’s another beaut from Jason Renshaw (what would we do without him?) and it enables the teacher to keep a record of spelling errors found in writing. It then gives the student the opportunity to review their mistakes and work on them. It functions in a similar way to the speaking review through recording above.

It is entirely possible to extend this activity so it doesn’t just cover spelling. It could be adapted to also include confusing passages of text, which can be as big a problem as spelling at this level.

Feedback form

Many teachers will keep notes during a lesson of things to remember later, whether it’s for later in the lesson or for another time, and it’s equally important to continue this during higher levels. Again, I think this is often neglected because the higher level makes us think they need less supervision and feedback. In fact, I am now realising that they need a different kind of more detailed feedback as opposed to less of it.

With this in mind, I have adapted a handout that you can download here from onestopenglish. I have changed it so it doesn’t focus just on pronunciation by having a general ‘Things To Work On’ box, and I have changed ‘Corrections’ to ‘Observations’. You can download my version from here.

By using a pre-printed form, I think I am more likely to actually do it and respond to it than if I just scribble some notes down in my notebook. It enables me to more easily create structured lessons in the future. Again, it also sends a clear message to the student that you are taking their development seriously.

Set goals

I don’t think we can underestimate the importance of goal setting. This is a procedure I go through with all of my students, and it needs to be done methodically and checked up on at regular intervals. Simply, students need to be aware of exactly what it is they want to achieve in their studies and think about how they are going to get there. Teachers also need to know this too as it is our job to help them get there.

I will blog more about this in the future as it’s a subject that deserves it’s own post, but in the meantime you can read Berni Wall’s excellent blog post about her way of setting goals which is very similar to mine.

If you have any further ideas of how we can help students continue their progress, I’d love to hear them, so please leave any suggestions you have in the comments. Thanks.





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