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Views #1289 | Intermediate (B1)

Players, Pupils, and Prisoners

Todd shares with Julia how he labels different types of students based on motivation.

Todd: So Julia, you are a teacher.

Julia: That's right.

Todd: So I'm going to run a theory by you.

Julia: Okay.

Todd. So we were talking about learner types earlier and I actually think I have my own little diagram for motivational types.

Julia: Motivation types, okay, that's interesting because I need a handle on motivation.

Todd: So basically I think there's four types of students. I always get four types of students. They're either a player.

Julia: A player.

Todd: A pupil, a participant, or a prisoner.

Julia: A prisoner, a player, a pupil, a participant or a prisoner, okay.

Todd: Yeah, easy to remember, all P's.

Julia: All P's, yeah, good system.

Todd: Okay. So a player is a student who loves a subject matter, they study it on their own, even if there wasn't class they would still study it.

Julia: Okay. Like a natural in a subject maybe?

Todd: It could be natural or like, you know, because we teach English, it would be like a student that loves English, learns English on their own, maybe went and studied overseas. And they're always improving and they kind of take class just to reinforce what they're already learning. But they actually don't like class usually. Often they don't like homework, they don't like tests, they don't like things that really judge their ability. They just want to keep learning and just being around the subject, that's why they're a player, they just want to play. And it would be like if you played a sport, it would be like an athlete who doesn't really want to practice, he just wants to play.

Julia: So for the fun of it?

Todd: Yeah.

Julia: Someone who does it just for the sheer enjoyment?

Todd: Right. They just want to do it for the enjoyment and for the end result, like they do it and they don't need really someone telling them how good they are. Now, on the flipside you have a pupil. And a pupil would be somebody who loves class, they're a teacher's pet.

Julia: A swat they might call them.

Todd: A swat, oh really, okay.

Julie: Yeah, a swat is someone who studies hard.

Todd: Yeah, exactly.

Julia: And gets pleasure from studying and the teacher knowing that they've studied and a swat.

Todd: Exactly. A swat, there you go, a new word for me. Not a P, but yeah. They want to sit in the front row, they want to get good grades, they want to stand out. But maybe they actually don't love the subject matter that much, they want to do that at every class.

Julia: They like being good at it regardless of what it is.

Todd: Exactly. Exactly. So those are usually the two best students you have, right. You're going to have players who love the subject and pupils who love being a good student.

Julia: And swats.

Todd: And swats. And then in the system there's two more. So there's also participants. Now, a participant, they love class but they don't love in the way that a pupil loves class. A participant just loves being with their friends. They love the social aspect of class. They love seeing people they know. they love talking. They love being in a group. And it really doesn't matter what the subject is.

Julia: Okay.

Todd: You know what I mean?

Julia: Yeah.

Todd: Like I think in college I was often a participant, like I would take a class because my friends took the class. So yeah, that's basically, that's a participant.

Julia: Okay, class is time to hang out with your friends.

Todd: Exactly, social outlet.

Julia: Do you think they even know what subject it is that they're...

Todd: Yeah, maybe they don't even care, and exactly, you could change the subject on them, like you know, hey, we're going to do German and they would be like, "Hey, that's cool, as long as we're still together."

Julia: Well that's nice. And the fourth one?

Todd: Yeah, the last one is the sad one, the prisoner.

Julia: The fourth, like the prisoner, that sounds a little bit scary.

Todd: Yeah. The prisoner, the poor prisoner. The prisoner is basically society says they have to take this class. Some authority said, "You have to take the class, you have no choice." It could be the government, it could be their mother, it could be their university curriculum.

Julia: So there's like a mandatory subject that they don't really want to do?

Todd: Exactly. If they had the choice to opt out, they would opt out in a heartbeat. If you said, "Hey, you know what, if you want you do not have to take this class, you do not have to show up every day, everything's fine, it's cool." They wouldn't show up. So basically they're a prisoner, you know. And a prisoner doesn't actually mean that they're a bad student. They could actually be an A student, and it doesn't mean that they have a bad attitude, they could be very polite, but they just ... they really don't want to take that subject, they're stuck doing it and there's just no getting out of it.

Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary

run ---- by you.

notesI'm going to run a theory by you.

To run something by you means to tell you something and ask your opinion about it. Notice the following:

  1. I want to run this new idea by you.
  2. When he runs the idea by you, he wants some feedback.

handle on

notes I need a handle on motivation.

A handle on means control. Notice the following:

  1. I've got a handle the kids, don't worry.
  2. She's really got a handle on this class.

on the flip side

notesNow, on the flipside you have a pupil.

On the flipside means on the other hand, or from another point of view. Notice the following:

  1. She was a bad daughter. On the flipside, now she is a mother.
  2. I like cooking because I like eating. On the flipside, it takes a lot of time to prepare food.

stand out

notesThey want to stand out.

To stand out is to be noticed easily. Notice the following:

  1. That red car really stands out amoung all the black ones in the parking lot.
  2. He really stands out on the team because he is the best player.

opt out

notesIf they had the choice to opt out, they would opt out.

To opt out is to choose not to do something. Notice the following:

  1. She was going to play the game, but then she opted out.
  2. You can opt of the insurance if you like.

in a heartbeat

notesthey would opt out in a heartbeat.

In a heartbeat means right away or immediately. Notice the following:

  1. I would marry that man in a heartbeat, if he asked me.
  2. When work was finished, he was out the door in a heartbeat.

get out of

notesthere's just no getting out of it.

To get out of something means you don't have to do it. Notice the following:

  1. I was supposed to wash the dishes, but I got out of it.
  2. He really wants to get out of going to work on Saturday.

Vocabulary Quiz

run • handle on • flip side
stand out • heartbeat
  1. I would move to Hawaii in a .
  2. Let me an idea by you.
  3. You are out of control. You need to get a things.
  4. Beautiful people in a crowd.
  5. Summer is great, but on the it is so humid.

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About the Teacher / Creator

Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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