First Homelingua webinar

Bucksmore Homelingua has conducted the first of what is planned to be an ongoing series of webinars. On the 16th October at 4pm, over 20 of our home tutors managed to log on, get their video and microphones working and figure out how to raise their virtual ‘hand’. It was a good opportunity for teachers to exchange ideas and best practice and the feedback from all attendees was positive.

Just under half the tutors were in their first year of home tuition and about the same proportion had been home tutors for more than five years. That made for a wide range of experience.

Despite the technical issues of getting video and sound to work for everyone (and some unexpected drilling in the building next door!), eventually we got going with our two topics for the afternoon

  • some background about the two companies Bucksmore and Homelingua and their official merger on 19th September
  • tips and techniques on how to do an effective needs analysis

The merger of two companies is always an unsettling time and it can be hard to deliver answers when the future direction is unknown or uncertain. The intention of the first half was to keep teachers up to date about the company’s developments and answer questions if there were any. Now that the company has been officially rebranded as Bucksmore Homelingua and is part of the Oxford International Education group of companies (formerly known as ISIS Education), I’m optimistic about the future of this brand in the home tuition market.

The second half of the webinar was about the needs analysis. Different techniques to discover students’ needs and preferences were discussed.

  • level placement tests
  • the body of pre-arrival email communication
  • learning style preferences, e.g. visual, auditory, kinaesthetic
  • the student’s own goals
  • the student’s attitudes to what makes for effective learning
  • open-ended speaking or writing
  • daily reviews of the weekly plan
  • the mid-week check
  • SWOT analysis

Be prepared and flexible!

Some of the best feedback
we get from students about teachers is when the teacher creates a broad plan for a week and is also willing and able to change that plan spontaneously after discovering a need which had been previously unarticulated. “Oh, this topic/grammar/function X is a bit trickier than we thought. We can do a bit more on this tomorrow.”

We finished the hour with teachers exchanging ideas about individually adapted needs analysis questionnaires and a handful of other resources which teachers find helpful in the home tuition context.

Feedback on what would be most valuable for future Bucksmore Homelingua webinars showed that teachers appreciated the opportunity to share ideas and hear about best practice from other home tutors. The next is planned for late November / early December and will likely involve the opportunity for teachers to share some of their favoured teaching materials.

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