Happy Friday Everyone! Aside from the fame, fortune, and of course the BIG checks, the main reasons that many of us do what we do, is a passion for education and a love for our students. I know that I post a lot of things from the teacher’s perspective, because well that’s a first person view for me, but with the recent release of our What’s Your Story series, I began wondering what the experience looked like from the other side.

As if by fate, last week during Literacy Connexus’ Response to Refugees Symposium, one of our TEX trainers, Connie Anthony, shared that she had student testimonial videos from some of the former ESL students that had taken classes with her ESL ministry at First Baptist in Conroe, Texas. I honestly couldn’t help but share.

Listening to these students talk about how English classes and this ESL ministry positively affected their lives here in the United States is a reminder of why I go to class every day, why I spend hours planning lessons and looking for interesting activity ideas, and why I nearly have more student contacts in my phone than personal ones.

Have you ever wondered what effect your class has on your students? Is your class a bright bit of fun in their week? Is it a safe space? Is it challenging? Is it pushing your students towards their goals and helping them manage in a sometimes new, primarily monolingual country? Hopefully it’s a little bit of all of those things, but here are 6 questions we think you can use to gain a little insight from your students.

  1. What is your history with English? Have they tried to learn English before? If they have, why did they stop? Have they never been exposed to English before your class? Asking these questions will help you get a better idea of any challenges your students may face in their learning journey.
  2. How do you feel about learning English? Some students may feel apprehensive about learning English, and some may be excited. Asking this question may help you see how your students view English, and sometimes that can help you change that narrative by how you approach teaching.
  3. What do you expect out of this class? This can be an excellent question to ask students, but please note that it’s a broad question so you may have to give your students some examples to avoid a class full of blank stares or general answers. Some suggestions are: do you expect the teacher to do most of the talking? Do you expect homework assignments? Do you expect to learn more vocabulary? Do you expect to learn work related English? Do you expect to practice with your peers? A relaxed classroom? Lots of structure? Little structure? Technology?
  4. When will you be happy with your English? Languages are ever evolving and the idea of perfection in any language can be a little daunting and seem a bit far off. That being said, students should have an idea of what they consider to be “good English”. I like to use the sentence starter: I will be happy with my English when I can ______________________________. (Talk to a native speaker on the phone, watch a TV show, pass my citizenship test).
  5. What have you gained from class? Always check in with your students. This question is great for letting students reflect on their learning, and giving you the opportunity to get a bit of feedback on your instruction. Is it effective? Are your students gaining grammar skills? vocabulary? conversation skills? confidence?
  6. Has English class helped you reach any of your goals? Another great question for checking in with your students is has English class helped you reach any of your goals? Every student came to class with a goal in mind. Maybe their goal was to be able to talk to members of their church, or their neighbors. Maybe their goal was to get a promotion, or get their GED, or their citizenship? Maybe it was to be confident enough in their English to make new friends. Whatever their goal was for their language learning journey, it is always important to check in and see if they are making progress towards that goal.

What questions do you use to measure the impact of your classes or to gain insight on learning English from your students perspectives? Drop them down below in the comments and let us know.

If you have any stories from students that you would like to share, send them to info@literacyconnexus.org. We would love to hear from you! As always, happy teaching!