Sometimes Confidence is Enough

In working with higher-level (usually adult) students in my field of ESL, sometimes I have noticed that they seem to actually need little help, yet they request services for what they feel are their deficiencies. Even after I listen to them carefully and assess their oral skills as quite good to excellent, with few or no obvious errors except for an accent, they insist they face difficulties which need remediation. While my pay is beneficial to me, I sometimes would like to tell potential students that they don't really have much of a problem that I can address. Yet they insist. This is when I remember that they may simply need a dose of self-confidence and a positive assessment from a perceived expert such as me.

The need for positive reinforcement and confidence building is probably necessary in other disciplines too. I think sometimes students have seldom heard others praise their abilities or coping strategies, whether family, teachers, colleagues or superiors. In my field of ESL, I know that many native speakers disparage a foreigner's efforts when in fact to us ESL teachers, the non-native speaker would be evaluated at a very high functioning level. Therefore, students feel they can't speak, can't communicate. So sometimes I think my job is to simply acknowledge them, listen to them, help them with some minor issues, and give them enough confidence to approach their oral English more positively. It may not feel like much help, but to them it's a priceless boost.

Thus, I would say to tutors that sometimes your work may seem easy, unnecessary even, but the simple fact of you, the expert, showing a student he has only minor problems is what might make all the difference. Consider that the next time a potential student, especially an adult, asks for your help even though you feel he/she doesn't really need much of your subject expertise.


I agree. Some applicants simply let the silence around them get in the way. That's why I am so proud to become part of this network.


Emily S.

Retired English Teacher for Adults

2250+ hours
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