Long-stay students


How do you cope academically with a student who is staying for a long time?

Some students book courses of more than 4 weeks. Often this is because their level is quite low and they have a long-term aim such as getting a good grade in the IELTS exam.

Key Points

  • Presenting your course
  • Keeping professional
  • What to teach
  • Monitoring
  • How to teach
  • Optimising non-academic time
  • Handover

Presenting your course

On a long course it is vital your student is clear about what they are going to be studying and how a week will be structured. In the first day or two make sure you have presented your student with a Weekly Schedule. The Schedule can always be amended later. Click on the link below.

example week’s content

Keeping professional

It is also important to maintain your professional distance, especially when teaching. Through the course, your student needs to see you as their teacher rather than their best buddy. Of course over a period of weeks you are likely to build a relationship with your student, especially as you share non-teaching  experiences such as meals, socialising and information about your lives but the relationship should always be professional , where you keep your authority as the teacher.

What to teach

You will need to do a needs analysis and reassess at regular intervals. Most low level students will need to work on all four skills as well as their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Over a week you should have a variety of lessons and homework. Homework is an ideal time for students to work on reading (eg simplified readers) and writing. Over a number of weeks, you should be extending your students capability and revising and recycling areas already covered. Try to have themes running through your lessons so they don’t appear disjointed and unconnected. Depending on the student, project work can be done in and out of normal lesson time and can extend over a period of weeks (e.g. a report/presentation/video based on your local area or a local business/charity).


You will need to be aware of how your student is progressing and what requires revision. For speaking we strongly recommend you record your student each week (on a cassette or digitally e.g. via Vocaroo. This will help you analyse their strengths and weaknesses and help them see that they are improving … crucial for motivation!

In addition, for skills, grammar and vocabulary, you can give a subjective grade (say, marks out of 5) for elements of each skill or language area (adapt as required). This will help students prioritise their learning.

How to teach

Optimising non-academic time

Try to link your academic lessons with whatever else you do with your student. You can turn going shopping into a vocabulary lesson or role play, a local excursion to a church into reading practice, a pub/café visit into question practice (what’s this like?, what do you recommend?)

  •  Try to plan to have a ‘special’ activity of some kind lined up each week that you and your student can look forward to and work towards.
  • Find out what interests and motivates your student and then think of a related project (that could last 2 or 3 weeks or longer). The bulk of the project work can be done in the student’s own time with occasional help from you in lesson time. Ideas include:
  • Photography
  • Local history/heritage
  • British cooking
  • Wildlife
  • Comparisons with own country eg shopping
  • Sport
  • Music
  • Films

Some of these may also be hobbies.


If your student is going on to another teacher, you will need to write handover notes (we provide the blank forms) so that the new teacher knows what you have covered, what material you have used and what your student likes/dislikes academically and otherwise. If you are the second or third teacher, you should receive handover notes in the week before your student arrives.

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