Seeing student progress

Both tutors and students (and maybe their parents) may wonder how to actually see student progress. In the case of English or ESL, there are subtle and indirect signs, but seldom anything stark or quantifiable. Therefore, I have to pay careful attention to notice when a student has actually "learned" something, such as new vocabulary, sentence structure, or how to read a complex article. Yet the signs are there.

Here are a few examples. One student who I helped with writing first showed me some essays written for various classes, which were frankly failing papers in my estimation. They were full of sentence errors, mechanical errors (spelling and punctuation), and generally failed to make a strong point. I helped her by showing her the types of errors, and having her make corrections and do other practice exercises in her weak points. At the end, I asked her to produce a new paper from scratch, and with essentially no help from me, she produced a decently-written three-page essay on her university experience. This was progress.

In another case, a student also working on writing had serious errors with her sentence structure, as a non-native speaker. I've worked with her to show and explain the basic rules, and give her practice. Now she is making far fewer errors, and is able to analyze and catch some of her own mistakes. This is another kind of progress.

Sometimes, a student may feel frustrated and not see any obvious improvement, any leaps of skills. But ask your tutor, who should be paying careful attention, and hopefully he/she can show you some clear examples of where your work has improved. Tutors, do the same: show your students examples of progress you observe whenever possible. Help them see how they have learned a particular skill or concept. Your students will appreciate you for it.


Emily S.

Retired English Teacher for Adults

2500+ hours
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