Private students

To earn some extra money, I advertised for private students on Craigslist. I currently just have one, though I’ve been so busy that I’m not sure I’d want more.

Meet Patrizio – an Italian man in his 30s, Patrizio is working in Paris for a year on a company project. Why is he learning English and not French? Because he isn’t planning to stay here (his wife is still in Milan) and he thinks that English will help him more in the future.

I have two 1.5 hour lessons with Patrizio a week, and I generally let him run the show – after a ten-minute chat about what has happened since we last saw each other, I tell him about everything I have on me and ask him what he’d like to do.

Generally it’s listening with comprehension questions, but the week before last I started bringing in grammar exercises that I had photocopied from The Business, Upper Intermediate. I said we could start doing grammar on alternate lessons, and we did tense revision exercises.

The next lesson I had forgotten his folder, but I had my iPod so figured that we could just do listening, especially since I’d already said that grammar would be every second lesson.

Patrizio said, “okay, but next time – grammar,” looking at me as one might look at a child when giving important instructions.

So I brought in my folder the next lesson and took out some exercises on comparatives to do.

“No, I wanted to do this,” Patrizio pointed at the tense revision exercises we had done previously. “You said that there were more exercises in the back of the book.”

I smile, “yes, I said that there were extra exercises in the back of the book if I thought you needed to do some extra work on something.”

“But you said we would do grammar.”

“This is grammar,” I said, “there’s more to grammar than just tenses.”

He stubbornly insisted on doing tenses. I opened my bag and took out the books I had on me – Market Leader, Advanced, Market Leader, Pre-Intermediate and The Business, Pre-Intermediate. I turned to the back of The Business where there were more tense review exercises, and told him that he could write the answers in pencil and I would photocopy them for him when I was next at the office so he would have a copy. But, as soon as he saw the book was Pre-Intermediate and not Upper Intermediate, he didn’t want to do it.

Grammar rules don’t change depending on your level! I tried to explain that the work would cover the same areas, but he wouldn’t have it.

“Okay, we’ll just do listening today and I’ll photocopy it for next lesson,” I said.

“Good, now write yourself a reminder so you don’t forget,” he instructed.

One of my students giving me orders? I raised my brows and obligingly took out my diary. “Photocopy tense review exercises for Patrizio,” I said as I wrote.

“From The Business,” Patrizio dictated.

Dictation now? I’m usually quite tolerant with my students’ behaviour and think I’m reasonably adaptable, but I don’t think I should be treated like a child.

So I punished him by giving him listening activities that were above his level.

This morning, I went to his place for the next lesson, triumphantly brandishing the exercises he had asked for.

“Ah, good,” he said and put them aside.

“I thought you wanted to work on them today,” I said.

“Oh no, it’s just for my revision.”

Then why did you give me so much grief?!

I restrained myself from saying this and punished him with an hour of exercises on comparatives and superlatives.

Beware my wrath :p

2 thoughts on “Private students

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