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Views #1290 | Intermediate (B1)

Sizing Up Students

Julia and Todd continue talking about the different types of students they teach.

Note: This is a continuation of a conversation about student learner types from conversation 1289.

Todd: Yeah, but next time you teach, when you look at your students, think about it.

Julia: I will, yeah.

Todd: Who's a player, who's a pupil, who's a participant, who's a prisoner.

Julia: Who's a prisoner. And do you find that you have like an even distribution of those four types within any one class or...?

Todd: No, usually you'll a couple players, like let's say if you have a class of 20, if you have a class of 20 students you might have one or two players, one or two pupils, about 12-14 participants and maybe two or three prisoners.

Julia: Well, it's interesting, as you were giving those definitions, student's names and faces were coming to mind. Oh yeah, he's just described... Oh yeah, that's her, yeah. I could see how they would fit into the categories.

Todd: See, it works.

Julia: It does. But how does it help you teach them?

Todd: I think it does help you teach, like you know how to deal with everyone differently, right. So like a prisoner for example, you just have to have a lot of empathy, you know, you have to understand that they don't want to be there so you shouldn't expect that they have a great attitude about the class. You know, a participant, you should make it really highly interactive, you should make it very social, as much as you can. A pupil, you know, you give them the extra feedback when you write, you know, comments on their papers and stuff and you give them the encouragement like, "Oh wow, you did a really good job on your test." A player, you, you know, because I'm a language teacher, I try to talk with them a lot, like almost cordial, like a friend so that they have a lot of personal interaction. So, yeah, I think it's, you know you just kind of ... you have to adjust to each one. Yeah, and the thing about this is, I've thought about these four types a lot and I think they apply to any subject and the person can change, like one person isn't automatically a player in every subject, so for some subjects you're a player, for other subjects you're a prisoner, maybe other subjects you're a participant. Okay, so what subjects were you a player?

Julia: Language, definitely, foreign language, loved French. I did Latin at school as well which was quite unusual but enjoyed it.

Todd: And a prisoner?

Julia: A prisoner, at the time, music. When I was at school I was a prisoner in music and I don't think it was just my response to the subject, it was also my response to the teacher. Didn't have a good relationship with the teacher but nothing I could do, couldn't escape, had to be there and that affected my learning I think. Being a prisoner's not a good ... I don't think it's a good learning situation.

Todd: No, definitely not.

Julia: No.

Todd: How about, were you ever a participant? You just did something to be with your friends and you really didn't care what it was?

Julia: Yeah, there were some subjects like that I think. Like history and geography, those kind of subjects, humanities subjects, they were mildly engaging but I liked, yeah ... I didn't have an aversion to them because I was hanging out with my friends. I didn't love them, I didn't excel in them, I wasn't particularly interested in them.

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

come to mind

notesNames and faces were coming to mind.

To come to mind means to think of or remember. Notice the following:

  1. When you say sports, soccer comes to mind.
  2. Nothing comes to mind. Sorry, I don't remember.

deal with

notesYou know how to deal with everyone differently.

To deal with someone means how you act around that person. Notice the following:

  1. I have to be very strict when dealing with him.
  2. She acts differently when she deals with other students.


notesI try to talk with them and be cordial.

Cordial means warm or friendly. Notice the following:

  1. He was cordial when he met his friend's parents.
  2. She was a cordial dinner host.


notesthey were mildly engaging.

Engaging means interesting. Notice the following:

  1. Science is an engaging subject.
  2. The movie was very engaging.


notesI didn't have an aversion to them.

An aversion is a dislike for something. Notice the following:

  1. I have an aversion to waking up early.
  2. She has an aversion to snakes.

Vocabulary Quiz

to mind • deal with • cordial
aversion • engaging
  1. She must a lot of students.
  2. He has an to studying.
  3. When you are polite, you are .
  4. She likes with students.
  5. Nothing comes .

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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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