Tips for Students in a Difficult Class

Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Learning a Language | No Comments

Do you want to study a language?

When you get in touch with us, we will ask you if you have studied before. If you have not, or if the last time you did was more than a few years ago, you will probably be placed in our most introductory level. If you would like to skip a level – or believe you might be able to – you should schedule a placement test.

Is the class too difficult for you?

If you sign up for group classes, you may quickly realize that the class is more difficult than you originally expected.

Moreover, you might sometimes find yourself thinking it would be better if you quit.

If you want to quit because you don’t really want to learn the language you are studying, then that probably is a good decision – to be successful at learning a new language, you must be motivated and have a real desire to study it. If you do not come to class prepared and ready to learn, it can have a negative impact on everyone else in the class.

If you want to learn, but are planning on quitting – because it is too difficult or because you think the class is going too fast for you – don’t.

First of all, please read the other article that we wrote on this topic called: How to learn a language. In that article, we mention a couple of things that we need to be sure you can rule out before quitting.

In group classes, there is a pace that we have to set and maintain in order to establish a standard. To determine that pace, we calculate the average score of every single class and level, for every language. To do that, we compile all the quizzes students take throughout the course, in addition to all the final tests from the semester, and we use these scores to see how we are doing. This way, we can make sure classes don’t to go too fast or too slow.

If you feel that your class is moving too fast, it does not necessarily mean that you aren’t doing well. It might be that you are not dedicating enough time to study outside of class, or you do but you are studying in an ineffective manner. It might also be that you are focusing on topics that are not as important as you think they are. Some people simply need an extra explanation, or a little extra time, but they don’t want to be the person who is always asking questions and/or interrupting the class – this reluctance to ask for help or admit to struggling can be a real impediment to learning. Advocating for yourself is not something to be embarrassed about!  Instructors usually know when they have a student who is struggling, and they generally have a sense of if that struggle is due to lack of dedication and effort, or if it is because a student really isn’t getting it, despite wanting to learn. Your instructor will not be annoyed if you ask for more help – they want you to succeed and have a positive learning experience!

But maybe you are right – in some instances the class might be moving a little too fast or be too difficult for your level. There is nothing wrong with that. If this is the case, something that has proven quite helpful for students in this situation has been to schedule a private lesson with their instructor before their next group class meets. We offer a discounted rate of 10% off to our current group course students for these types of “catch-up” sessions. This is a great option, but it does require that the student is able to acknowledge they are having a hard time keeping up and willing to be proactive about getting help. For our Intro or Level 1 Spanish students, another way to get back on track is to take some of our online Spanish classes, which can be found on our website. In the future, we hope to have online lessons for our other beginning language students, as well.

If you quit without notice, there is nothing we can do to try and help; come talk to us first!

Do not come to us if you haven’t tried studying and doing your homework, as that is your responsibility, not ours, and thus is not something we can or will help you with. If you do think you’d like to quit, please let us know sooner rather than later so that we can talk to you and give you a couple of tips (and please give yourself a chance to try them out!).

If you want to quit and cannot take a private class, consider retaking the same course when it is offered again. If you do, buy a new book and throw out the old one! Usually, the main reason students don’t want to buy a new book is not because of money, but because they want to have ‘all the answers’ already there for them! Even if that is not your motivation, it can be distracting and confusing to have your old work, answers, mistakes, etc. in front of you when you are trying to take the class again.

Things that will prevent learning:

  1. not studying*
  2. not doing your homework*
  3. missing classes
  4. being messy while taking notes or correcting homework
  5. studying or doing homework right before class without doing anything else during the week
  6. getting upset or frustrated when the teacher corrects you
  7. Not paying attention or participating in class

*Everybody is different, therefore there is not one answer to this, but you have to at least study and do homework for at least 3 hours outside of class if you want to learn and make real progress. If it’s hard for you to find time to study, try breaking your studying into small chunks and spreading them out over each day of the week.

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