New Student Essentials – what you need to remember when taking on a new student.

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New Student Essentials

“Hello, I’d like to sign up for your English course!”

Great news! You got a new student!

But what now?

Taking on a new student is exciting but the beginnings can be a bit stressful. Especially if you don’t know this student at all. Where do you start? What level are they? What should you do with them? What material should you use for the first lesson? Not to mention the fact that you need to make a good first impression!

Don’t worry! We’re here to help! Check out our guide on what to remember when taking on a new student.

#1 Level Check

Start with the Level Check. Get a good idea of what they already know and what gaps they might have. Very often a short conversation is enough. When asking questions, include all the important grammatical structures. That way you can check if the student can understand them and then use them.

For example:

  • check for the use of present tenses by asking about their current job, hobbies, everyday life
  • check for the correct use of past tenses by asking about their past experiences
  • check for understanding of hypothetical situations by asking questions with conditionals

To check their vocabulary, you can use photos. Ask the students to describe the photos or name as many items as they can in English.

Don’t forget to get some information on their English learning experience to date: 

How long have they been learning English? 

Did they have a long break? 

What level did they complete and when? 

Watch out for students who learn from TV series or who learnt while working abroad. They might have some significant grammar gaps.

Should you do it as part of your first lesson? No! Read on to find out why.

#2 Needs Analysis

Needs Analysis is important, especially when working with adults. You need to know why they’re learning and what their needs are. Needs Analysis will help you (and the students themselves) determine their goals. It will also help you find out what areas of English are more urgent and which can wait. This is going to be important for creating a course syllabus. Thanks to Needs Analysis you will also learn a bit more about the students’ learning situation (can they do homework?) and their motivation.

What to focus on? You should always consider 3 areas: future, present and past.


Find out what their goals are, where they want to be by the end of the course. This will help you determine where they want to go with their English, it will set a goal for the course.


What do they need English for today and how can they use it? Do they have time to practise at home?


Why did they stop their past courses? This will help you get an insight into what works and what doesn’t work for them.

You can check all this by having a conversation with the student, it’s simple and fast. But, it’s not the best way to do it. Students might not even be aware of some of their needs, or they might not be able to express them clearly.

In New Student Essentials you get 4 methods (complete with worksheets and guidance) of conducting a needs analysis with a new student. Choose the right one for you depending on the type of class and the duration of the course.

New Student Essentials

#3 Student File

Always keep a file for each student where you note all the information about them:

  • their level
  • needs and goals
  • their past learning habits
  • interests
  • any other important (or interesting) information

This will help you get organised, especially if you have a lot of students. You will always be able to go back to this file when you’re in doubt.

#4 Course Syllabus

Prepare a Course Syllabus. Take all the information you gathered from the Level Check and Needs Analysis and make it into a course plan.

Easier said than done? Let’s break it down!

After you’ve done your level checks and needs analysis, you should have a clear idea of students’ goals. Where they are and where they want to be with their English by the end of the course.

Take this goal and break it down into smaller parts:

What exactly do you need to cover?

What grammar, vocabulary, communication?

What’s most urgent?

Note it all down.

Take a look at your calendar to check how many, months, weeks and classes the course will last for.

Break the goal into smaller learning chunks – they’ll be your milestones – and put each one down on the calendar. Some milestones might take 1 month, some 2 months to complete. So don’t randomly set a goal every month. But rather look at how complex it is to achieve for this particular student.

Next, break these milestones into smaller parts. Set them as your mini-goals for each week.

Lastly, have a goal for each lesson that week. This will ensure you have a goal for each lesson of the entire course. All you have to do now is figure out how to achieve these goals. 

What materials are you going to use? 

What skills are you going to focus on? etc.

#5 First Lessons

The first lesson with a new student is crucial. This is the time when they make up their mind about whether they want to work with you or not. That’s why we don’t recommend doing a needs analysis and level check in your first lessons. Do that in a pre-course meeting instead.

When conducting your first lessons with new students, you should always:

  • get to know them better
  • make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed
  • give the students satisfaction of completing tasks
  • give them a lot of opportunities to talk using language they already know
  • make sure they learnt something new
  • make a great first impression!

In New Student Essentials you get 4 ready-to-use first lessons (one for each level). They all cover the points above, and you don’t need any other prep or instructions.

That’s how we like to make your work easier! 🙂

New Student Essentials provides you with all the necessary worksheets, templates, checklists and guidance to start working with new students.

How to:

  • check their level
  • conduct a needs analysis
  • design a course syllabus
  • conduct first lessons and get to know them better

Check sample pages and more details below:

New Student Essentials