UKCE isn’t a just good school, it’s a great school! We’re very proud of our excellent satisfaction scores, our high rating on our social media pages and our reputation. At UKCE we make an effort to make sure everything is OK for our students, but no school is perfect. It is impossible for any school to not have at least one complaint, yes, even ours. We understand that nothing is perfect, so complaints give us a chance to improve or fix problems straight away. We’ve done a lot of research and looked at different schools across the world. Here are some common complaints that ESL students make and their solutions.
Common complaint 1:
“The other students and I aren’t making progress”
Issue: Learning a language is frustrating, I know, I’ve done it. It’s like trying to chop down a tree with a nail file. Learning is a long, slow process. It may feel like you are stuck and not progressing whenever you come across something that you find hard to grasp.
Solution: Buy a notebook. If you aren’t making notes (in English) and just come to class expecting to magically become bilingual overnight then, oh boy, we’ve got some bad news for you! Having all of your notes in one place allows you to look back at your classwork and see that you are physically progressing. Strangely students who revise their work regularly seem to progress faster and retain more information.
Common complaint 2:
“I don’t like the teacher”
Issue: Sometimes people make a bad first impression. One time I met a teacher who kept drumming beats onto desks. I thought he was bored of me and really rude. He made a bad first impression. It was easier for me to complain about this to another colleague rather than asking him why he was tapping on the desk constantly. Turns out he was nervous and as a drummer, practising helped him to calm down. The take-away here is that I didn’t say anything to him and that’s because it’s difficult to understand someone as soon as you meet them. This happens with new teachers too.
Solution: Give them a chance. Every teacher at our school is highly qualified. The minimum requirement is two qualifications and that is before all of the weekly training courses we have. They have the skills, but they might be nervous as I suspect you are too. If the method or style is the problem, remember that every teacher teaches in a way they feel is most effective. If it’s not working for you after a month or so, then talk to the teacher. They’ll appreciate it.
Common complaint 3
“I don’t like the class”
Issue: This can be one of two things: the others in the class or the arrangement. I’m very particular about the way I arrange my classroom, the temperature, the layout on the desk and where my books are, so I can understand when someone is fussy about the layout or the temperature. As for the other students in the class, teachers have a pocket full of activities to make all their students get along. But if it’s the paint colour that is beyond my power.
Solution: If you want to change seats then go for it. We notice that students are quite territorial and like to sit in the same seats. It helps us remember everyone’s names at first, but we don’t mind if you change seats. If you’re unfamiliar with the other students in the class, the teacher hasn’t had time to do some sort of ‘get to know you’ game, then you can tell them. They’ll be forced to play some sort of game to make sure everyone knows everyone else. Who doesn’t love games!?
Common complaint 4
“The connection is bad”
Issue: Online classes are different to face-to-face ones and obviously come with their own technology-based challenges. At UKCE one of our core principles is embracing technology and being future facing. We try to ensure that we can deliver our online classes in the best possible way.
Solution: If I am teaching online, I make sure that all of the router’s energy is focused on delivering that class. Any games consoles I have are switched off. The Wi-Fi goes off on my mobile phone too and that gives the router less work. If you have a television that connects to the Internet, I’d turn the Wi-Fi off there too and the same with the tablet. Also as much as we want your camera and microphone on at all times, if you have some connection issues why don’t you try turning your camera off during the lesson. That way all the energy goes into the microphone rather than the camera, it really works!
Common complaint 5
“We’re not doing enough/ We’re doing too much”
Issue: The workload. Some students absolutely detest homework. Homework gives them bad memories. It can be stressful to find the time to do it, especially if you have children or a full-time job. It might also be a little bit boring. Other students absolutely love homework and having the opportunity to show off how much they have learnt, asking for extra homework so they can revise for further practice. The problem for teachers is that our classes are rarely homogenous in their demand for homework, so it becomes a balancing act.
Solution: Ask the teacher. It’s that simple. If the teacher is giving you too much homework, simply explain that you probably won’t have the time to do it. Try to reach some sort of compromise. I find it really annoying when students accept the homework happily and then fail to produce it. What I appreciate is a student who pre-empts and communicates any issues they may have. If the teacher isn’t giving you enough homework, you actually have 2 options; you can either try and find extra work for yourself on the internet (or just start writing things and give them to the teacher to look at) or you can ask the teacher for some extra work. Simple as that.
Teachers are really lovely people and we appreciate it when you come to us with any concerns you might have. But, as a former student, I also understand that it’s easier to speak to a member of management about certain things. At UKCE you are welcome to do both. We try our very best to make our students happy and comfortable in their classes, so don’t stew over things. Make things happen and either talk to your teacher or member of staff to resolve any issues that arise. Hope this short guide on some common complaints that ESL students make and their solutions helps you in the future.