A Waste Of Time?

Recently, a pretty experienced English teacher, running his own business indeed, passed a comment that he thought 80% of English teaching is a waste of time. A pretty downbeat and depressing view I thought. But I have given it more consideration, and tried to relate it to my students….is 80% of everything I have been doing a waste of time?
It’s hard to put an exact number in front of that percentage to be honest, but of course some students will get more out of their classes than others. But then some will put more in. The problem is, although they all want to learn English, a fair few have signed up to classes with little more than good intentions rather than the need or hunger to learn that leads to success.

What type of student have you got? One that cancels a lot? Is always late? Thats a ‘good intentions’ student. Inevitably they will give up after a few months. It’s so predictable. There are of course those who rearrange a class rather than cancel it outright. After all, work comes first, it has to, but if there is desire, then they will make the effort. Without a doubt the ones who really keep it up over the long term, week in, week out, are the ones who improve noticeably.

Why not try and put a figure on it though! Using my students, every one of them past and present, and estimating their attendance, effort and I’ve worked out some numbers!

Total number of students taught : 32
Total number who are still in class : 17
Number who quit within six months : 9
Number who have noticeably improved : 11
Number where too early to notice : 6

So by my very scientific calculations, for 30% of my students the classes were basically a total waste of time. For another 30% it has been worth the effort. For another 15 % it is too early to tell. And for the final 25%……well they’ve kept at it I guess, but lateness and lack of attendance has rather dented any visible improvement. I am dubious to say the least that they will get value for money from my classes, but I can’t write them off!

The happier news for me is that I now have a fairly settled bunch of classes, and of the 17 still with me, 9 of them are in the ‘shown improvement’ category, and 6 are still within their first six months and awaiting judgment!

Which does demonstrate that whilst my teacher buddy may have a good point, as a little over 60% of my students didn’t/haven’t yet improved by any worthwhile amount, those that stick with it for a decent period of time do reap the rewards of their efforts. The moral of the story is clear!

Good intentions or real desire?


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