Xish learners…

…expect there to be a lot of grammar in the lesson.

…want you to present the grammar clearly.

…want you to focus on grammar.

…don’t want you to focus on grammar.

…want to do a lot of speaking in our classes because they didn’t get that at school.

…are used to red being used when they make mistakes (and are therefore scared of it)

…expect the teacher to know all of the answers.

…are coming to our school because they want a native speaker.

These thoughts have been swirling round in my head for a while. In every country I’ve lived in, I’ve been told variants of the sentences above about learners from that country, plus many other things besides which I can’t remember. It strikes me that these comments are much more universal than many people think. Or is it just me?

The following line is what prompted me to finally get these thoughts out:

“For Croatian learners the idea of the all-knowing, red-pen-wielding instructor is quite common.” https://afteroctopus.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/7-things-students-expect-from-an-online-writing-skills-course/

3 thoughts on “Xish learners…

  1. You’re not alone there Sandy. I’ve seen those comments made about almost every country I’ve worked in. Especially the “don’t/want grammar”. One difference I have noticed in my experience, in Spain parents seemed to understand that a native speaker wouldn’t speak Spanish fluently but the Children would learn. In Ukraine and Poland I received loads of questions about if it was possible for someone to teach children/low levels when they don’t speak the language. Just a personal observation where the school may have been a factor but worth mentioning.


  2. Hi Sandy,

    In my experience all of the above applies to Croatian learners, except for wanting a NS teacher and (possibly) being scared of the red pen. But maybe that’s just me not seeing it, because I work with adults and they probably don’t want to admit to being traumatized by ink color. Re wanting speaking classes because they didn’t do that at school, one of the students from the post you linked to said she was glad to be taking a writing skills course because in her experience language schools in Croatia focus on speaking to the detriment of other skills, especially writing. I thought that was interesting.


  3. Sandy – I think these issues are universal. When I was teaching in Russia, the NS request was often even more specific: I must have a British English teacher because I want to speak British English like all a typical bowler-hatted London businessman.

    You can imagine that a lot of those who visited London were quite disappointed!

    These days, grammar comes up time and time again – but mainly because a lot of the students I teach/have taught are working towards exams that have a specific focus on grammar, or because they learned English at school with the grammar-translation approach and are convinced that that is the way that languages ought to learned.


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