5 Ways to Help Increase the Chance to Retain your Clients

Here are 5 ways I found that helps me finding my students returning back over and over to take a lesson with me. Of course the most important point is to deliver great lesson content that is customized to the students needs but these below points also help to drive the lesson towards greatness.

  1. Smile – As they say, smile and the world will smile at you. Would you rather deal with an unhappy person or a happy person? Having a smile helps make the lesson so much smoother.
  2. Praise Be sincere and give constant praise for the client’s efforts. Feedback is important and praise is just one method. Help get the student to self-correct but don’t forget the praise again for doing so. Everyone wants a boost to their confidence and honest praise is a good way to do that.
  3. Talk Time Watch how much you speak. Keep it under 20% of the lesson.  Clients want the opportunity to talk so give it to them.
  4. Formalities Give a warm welcome. A firm handshake, a great smile, help with their cost, bag, or other items, and a big “Hello”.  Don’t forget when closing to thank them, praise them, and appreciate their effort today and preparing for their next lesson. A compliment wouldn’t hurt either!
  5. MannersBe polite, be humble, be organized, be prepared, don’t step on toes, apologize when necessary, be present and focused, keep your ears open, be sincere and curious, be devoted to helping this person, and I am sure your student will be grateful. Don’t be hungover, don’t be late, don’t be sloppy, don’t be dirty, don’t point at the client, don’t dress poorly and so on. Presentation matters. People will judge you in that first minute so start on the right foot.

Be consistent about these routines with all your students too! If you form good habits and maintain them, students will know how to respond better as they will expect them each time. All the best!

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ESL Business Teacher Resource Tips: Do you talk too much?

Do you talk too much? As a teacher, you would think you need to do loads of talking. You need to make sure the student is learning something after all right? Well, yea sure but does that really give the student the opportunity to practice what they learn? You learn from doing, right? Take a look at the cone of learning below for some insight on the impact of methods that have on one.

Cone of Learning

So as you can see, if you student does more talking, it is likely they will remember more. The other positive effect of having your student talk more is that they feel they had more practice time, which is what they want. They can watch a movie in English if they want to do more listening practice after all.

People love to talk so give them the opportunity to do so and they will be joyous. Cut down your talk time and increase your listening time. Whip out some notepaper and a pen to jot down incorrect sentences and/or natural ways to say things, which you can go over later. Keep it simple though.

The conclusion, apply the 80/20 rule. 80% or more of the talk time should be allocated to the student and 20% or less to your own. Don’t ramble on and Keep it Simple (KIS).Remember, you have two ears and one mouth so do twice as much listening as talking.

“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation” -Chinese Proverbs

Here are some extra tips from Dale Carnegie’s Book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

Six ways to make people like you

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

I suggest to read this book, you will learn a lot!

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How to be SMART in your lesson

In the business world, setting objectives is essential. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there” and this is not an effective way for a company to move forward. In turn, a mnemonic was created to help set clear goals called SMART. Each letter represents a criteria to set the goal or objective. You can apply this concept to your lesson objective, explain the concept to your students, or you can work with the student to discuss goals for each part of the lesson.

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there

Let’s break down SMART so you have a better understanding.

Specific – Be clear about what it is that you want to accomplish by answering the below questions. The clearer, the better.

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable – If it can be measured, it can be improved. You should be able to apply one of these questions to track your progress:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – Is the goal realistic yet a stretch? Does it make you a little nervous when you think of it? If the goal is too overwhleming then perhaps it is not feasible and unlikely you will be able to accomplish it so then don’t set it. You should be able to answer this question:

  • How can the goal be accomplished?

Relevant – Goals are good but does it push you in the direction towards your destination or take you further away. Remember, if you don’t know where you want to go, any path will get you there. Make sure you can answer these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Does this bring me closer to vision?

Timely – You must set a time frame to accomplish this goal. Without time pressure, you can either procrastinate or let it go altogether. Make sure the time set is a stretch that creates pressure but be realistic at the same time.Ask yourself this question:

  • When can I accomplish this?
  • What can I do today?

Now, how can you apply this to your lesson?

Example 1: Use the photo from the lesson plan.

  1. You can open up with “Who are these people?” or “What is their relationship?”
  2. Then follow-up with “What are they talking about?”
  3. You can then prompt them with “What is the goal or vision of this topic?”
  4. Ask if they can make it more SPECIFIC?
  5. Ask “How can they MEASURE their progress?”
  6. Ask “Do you think this is a stretch objective/goal?”
  7. Ask “Is this a good goal for them? Why?”
  8. Ask then, “When will they know when they are done” or “When can they finish this goal?”

Example 2: Use the Tie It Together section to apply this concept. You can take a manager role and then apply these questions such as in example 1 to the objective or topic of the discussion. You can also highlight this concept in the end to explain what you just did so maybe they can apply in their own work environment.

Good luck and I hope your client enjoys!


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ESL Business Opinions on the Market

The economy is a tough topic but it doesn’t have to be. This lesson is simplified but it should give a good idea to students that they can simply agree or disagree with an opinion and indicate the direction of the market. You can always expand each section of the practice to challenge the student. You may want to check headlines so you know where Japan and the world economy stands.

Lesson Plans:

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10 Things to Do in a Lesson

Here are my 10 things to do while teaching a lesson.

  1. Do take lots of notes. It is important that you take good well written notes for the student. If they walk away with nothing in the hand, they will wonder if they actually learned anything. The notes help re-enforce the learning of the lesson, which you should review at the end. Hopefully the student will also review. So bring some paper!
  2. Do use a multi-colored pen. Based on Tony Buzan’s findings, color helps stimulate the brain to recall better. If you just use one color ink, it will not stick as well. So make sure you bring a variety of colors to your classroom and assign each one to a specific category.
  3. Do review at the start and end. Make sure you review the previous lesson and also review what you covered in this lesson at the end to make sure the student retains the information. It is easy to jump into new content but is that good for the student? Use it or loose it. How often do these students get to practice these materials? Probably not often. So it is up to you to help keep it fresh in their mind.
  4. Do a warm up relative to the subject. A lot of teachers talk about what’s new. Thats nice but I think students get annoyed. I was invited a friend (ESL student) to an event and after I asked he respond, “Yes! Now I will have something to tell my teacher!” So perhaps it would be more valuable if you talked about something relative to the topic you will discuss. This is a chance to prep some vocabulary words or get the brain turning in the same direction.
  5. Do apply the 80/20 rule. The student should be talking 80% or more of the time and you only 20% or less. If you are always talking, how will the student get better? Watch yourself. Perhaps keep a stopwatch handy. Do something to track yourself or keep yourself in check. Create situations where you do listening. Keep things simple so you don’t get stuck explaining.
  6. Do use open ended questions rather than yes/no. If you ask “do you..”, the student will likely have a short response and that is it. Keep firing open questions to stimulate the mind and expand the situation. What, When, Where, Who, Why, and How should be the first word from your mouth.
  7. Do keep track of your students identity and what you talked about. Your mind is very powerful but unfortunately it is hard to jog back every detail from the many discussions you previously had. Keep a notebook to track anything interesting and topics with points you had so you can quickly jog back who this person is so you don’t stumble over same conversations again.
  8. Do give constructive feedback. Feedback is critical for learning. On one hand you don’t want to step on toes but then again if you don’t give feedback, your student will wonder how they are doing, which may lead them to find another teacher. Apply the sandwich technique. Give some positive examples where they demonstrated well and then give negative examples with corrections. Then close it off with some positive points. Be consistent here too. Every lesson, structure the same. Don’t just say, “Great job, keep it up!” That helps no one.
  9. Do watch their body language as well as your own. How are they responding to your lesson? Crossed arms, feet pointing towards a door, tapping foot/fingers, legs crossed and toe pointed away? Not looking good here. Are you leaning in too much, are you invading their space, are you using gestures that can insult such as finger pointing, and so? Be careful. It is difficult to keep an eye out but if you make it a habit to constantly watch and adjust, you will get better at this.
  10. Do always smile. Smile at the world and the world will smile at you. If you walk into a travel agency and you see three people working, one has a frown on their face, one has an angry face, and the other has a smile, which one would you choose. It pays to smile at all times.
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5 Business Book Recommendations

Sometimes students ask me what books they should read to improve their business knowledge. There are loads of books out there and many of them are great reads. But if I had to break it down to just 5 books, I would suggest the following:


  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey This book covers everything from win-win situations to taking responsibility. Master and make these habits of your life and you will see results in due time. The concepts are straightforward but applying them is the challenge. Most corporations offer some sort of training regarding this book. Check it out and read constantly because once just isn’t enough.
  • The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard Short book but right to the core. There is a good flow chart at the end of the book which you should print out and stick on your desk. If you ever read, “Who moved my cheese” then you will love this book too.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Leicioni A well written fable on getting your team sorted. Mr. Leicioni has several other great books relating to business, which I also advise you to check out. They all have solid points, tips, and are easy to understand. Very applicable in the real word.
  • The Essential Drucker – Peter Drucker How can anyone not read Drucker, the father of management. Though I will admit it is difficult to grasp some of his points or ideas, if you can figure it out, you will be all the wiser. Many great leaders follow his material religiously and have been lead to great success. Google some of his quotes, you’ll see.
  • Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell  I picked this book because outliers is a concept often talked about at work, particularly if you apply Six Sigma. He provides many case examples to make his point clear. Tipping point and Blink are also great reads too if you can make the time!
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ESL Business Metrics Reporting (KPI)

Tracking performance in a company is incredibly important. KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) are used to help measure and improve the business. This can be used from an individual level to a corporate level. The purpose of this lesson is to get the client to be able to discuss a KPI and provide a forecast.

“If it can be measured, it can be improved” –W. Edward Deming

Lesson Plans:

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ESL Business Email Meeting Request Lesson Plans

Emails are a tough business for ESL students. I constantly get requests on how can I improve or can you go over this mail I wrote with me. Since most textbooks I have gone through don’t have any case scenarios, I decided to include some lessons revolving around this subject.

In all honesty though, it would be better if you can get your student to bring in some emails they have written so you can hash it out together as these are real live mails and are really catered to their needs. If you can’t here are some lessons.

Note to the client the difference between internal and external mails. Be careful of language choice.

Lesson Plans:

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Do You Know Your Client?

When you meet your client, know their background and why they are taking lessons. Yes, this should be obvious but my point here is to then take this information and embed it into the lesson.

If your client is a manager in finance and has a team of 20 people who report to him, your lessons should be adjusted to meet his needs such as going over interviewing, holding yearly reviews, dealing with critical escalations, and so on. The contents of the lessons should then be adjusted to finance related words or corporate structures if possible and team related situations rather than from a new hire without any heavy hitting title.

I have provided the lesson plans in word document so you can download and manipulate the content removing, adding, tweaking, or anything else you see fit so your lesson is better enhanced.

I suggest you also keep a track sheet of who is who. Your brain is probably pretty good to remember some things you talked about in the past but when your client base grows, it gets harder to jog back some memories. If you can quickly revert to this track sheet and pull back previously discussed points, it will also enhance your lessons.

If you don’t customize your lesson to your client’s needs, he or she may not return because they are not getting the results they desire to meet their goals.

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How to Take Better Notes

If you aren’t already familiar, note taking is an important process in Japanese life. They jot down everything and if you don’t have a notepad, people will frown upon you wondering if you are really getting down the message that is being said. Japanese are trained to take notes from the day they enter school and it is instilled for the rest of their life.

Though many students want to take notes, practicing speaking English and taking notes at the same time is quite the juggling act for them so it is important and helpful then that you do the note taking rather than the student. So you  should always bring a piece of paper to your session and scribble down anything from words to sentences for the students so they can focus on the lesson.Don’t forget to give this to them at the end of the session. It also makes them feel they really learned something.

When it comes to wiriting, make the effort to write as clearly as possible. Remember it isn’t you who will be reading these later.

Maybe this site will give you some tips: 7 Tips for Improving your Handwriting

I also suggest that when you write, use a multi-colored pen (3-4 colors). Using multiple colors has a positive effect on the brain allowing for one to retain information longer. I recommend checking out Tony Buzan’s concept of Mind Mapping. This is some enlightening information even for yourself.

Regarding color usuage, I suggest to be consistent with you choices. For example I do the following:

  • Blue – Sentences
  • Black – Quotes,Proverbs, other unusual situations.
  • Green – Vocabulary (If a new word in a sentence, the sentence will be in blue while the new word in green.)
  • Red – Corrections (Crossing out or adding a word to a sentence written in blue.)

These aren’t my notes but its just an idea. Using pictures, colors, single words, full sentences can really brighten up the learning rather than a dull single color ink with just words written line after line. Enhance your lesson to make it more fun with good note taking! All the best! Cheers!

Colorful Note Taking for ESL Business Lessons

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