How to Assess English Language Learners

Assessing English language learners properly will help you attract and keep them in the long run. Teaching English online is getting more popular every day. The appeal of working from home, choosing your own hours, and generating extra income are just a few of the reasons it’s becoming such a popular choice.

However the more popular it becomes, the more competitive it’s becoming for English teachers. There are a lot of teachers registered on sites, but not everyone is having the same luck in getting and retaining students. Assessing your students properly and creating goals will help you turn them into long-term students.

You need to have a system in place or you won’t build your student base. 

Performing a quality assessment or needs analysis for students learning English is something that will help you be more successful in getting students to sign up for your lessons.

In past blogs we’ve touched on a few of the more important things in creating a great first impressions. Here’s a quick recap: 

  • set clear goals with your students
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: Your students should be talking 80% of the time and you 20%
  • Give them quality feedback 
  • Talk about things that they’re interested in
teaching English online needs analysis

Make the most of your first impression with a quality student assessment

The first impression you make will either convince your prospective student to sign up for your lessons… or look for a better English teacher.

Your lessons are not about you. 

What do I mean by this?

As much as I’m sure they’d love to get to know you, that’s not why they signed up for lessons. 

Let me also add as a side note: that also doesn’t mean you should be all about business either! 

It’s important to be friendly and smile, be aware of your body language, manner, and not just what you say but also what you don’t say. At the same time, you need to find the right balance between business and fun. 

Create a sheet with the following headings: 

  1. Introductions
  2. Purpose & Goals
  3. Strengths & Weaknesses
  4. Teacher-Student Connection (this is where you need to win them over with your personality. Be friendly, funny (but not inappropriate) and professional. 

The following section is a breakdown of these key things.

student needs analysis for teaching English online

How to perform a quality assessment of a student’s English level

Take the first 10 minutes and ask them to talk about themselves and what they’re interested in. 

Make a list of questions in advance that start simple and get progressively more challenging. 

Keep them talking and make sure that you’re taking notes of mistakes and things that they need to work on. Your needs analysis is not a lesson, so don’t go into teacher mode. You should be in the assessment mode.

 If they’re more advanced students they’ll ask you questions as well. That’s great, but keep your answers short. Remember you are evaluating them and it’s an assessment. 


What’s their purpose and goal? 

needs analysis for learning English

Ask them questions questions about why they want to learn English. 

What do they want to achieve? By when? 

Ask them questions about their North Star, mid-term and short term goals. 

Assess your students strengths and weaknesses

Ask them to evaluate themselves on what they feel their weaknesses are and where they lack confidence.

This should be organized and you should be able to quickly put together a summary and relate it to your notes. 

Remember to take notes that will help you create a summary and needs analysis. 

Encourage them to ask you questions 

Allow them to ask you questions. Don’t ramble on, and remember this is about them not about you.

Answer the questions and smile, but tell them in a very fun and professional way that the assessment is because you are determined to help them reach their goals so you hope to address any and all their questions about you in future lessons. 

And finally …

Summarize your notes using the checklists. 

Explain that you’ll follow up with a detailed action plan of how you’ll help them reach their goals.

Praise them for their effort and identify 3 key things that they did awesomely. Add 2 things that you will help them with, and tell them you’ll send them a follow up within the next hour (prompt follow ups will keep them motivated).

Ask them how they feel and if they think you are correct in your student assessment of their weaknesses and areas for improvement. As long as you are showing them examples of what they said, they will agree with you. This is why you must write it down. 

Getting them to say “yes” here will get you 80% in the door. 

Having a template for the student assessment and needs analysis will help you to look professional, make a clear plan with actionable goals and create a positive first impression. If you do all of these things, you are 80% of the way there. 

Good luck! 

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