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Trust, Progress, and Confidence: A Case Study




Student Success stories series is a collection of studies on students that have been wildly successful in our program. Success stories have been written by our own teachers and feature their real students so new potential students can see if the NSEO program is right for them. Please note that the names and some personal data has been changed to protect the privacy of the students.


This student success story features Teacher Rebecca's student, Mark. 

The Story of Mark

I worked with Mark (Minsung) Lee for 15 months from 2021-2022, and it was an absolute joy EVERY single lesson! When I first met Minsung, he was very shy and spoke only in one word or a short phrase but always had a content and happy attitude.

Mark stated that he wanted to supplement his learning with online classes to learn to write and speak naturally with a native speaker. He also wanted to gain vocabulary and express himself freely.

From the first trial lesson, I noticed that he needed me to accommodate his listening skills at a lower level and for the first few months, I tried to be careful not to include too much incidental language and speak at a slower pace, so that he could comprehend what I was saying. 

Screenshot 2023-01-25 at 6.58.18 AM

There were some significant and major improvements in listening, speaking, and particularly pronunciation of the tricky sounds (such as /l/, /r/)


Throughout our lessons together, as each lesson went by, Mark really began to open up and his progress was a delight to observe. 

There were some significant and major improvements in listening, speaking, and particularly pronunciation of the tricky sounds (such as /l/, /r/). The pronunciation improvements in particular made him progress from being difficult to understand in his short utterances to speaking in full sentences with very few pronunciation corrections.

Mark came to my class a motivated student who I could tell was fully ready to learn and grow, and he did! He went from barely speaking to speaking in full sentences and paragraphs - telling his own stories, reading stories to me and with me and then retelling the stories to me for practice.

He also did brief lessons on paragraph writing based on our shared readings. By December 2022, he was speaking in complete sentences and even writing and speaking paragraphs. 

Why Mark Chose You 

I think Mark initially chose me for his lessons because my class is very interactive, and I was able to determine “on the fly” in the trial lesson his ability level and use activities that are appropriate for him and help him to improve most efficiently.

I think over time he continued to choose me as his teacher because of the relationship and bond that we have. As he became more comfortable with me and confident, he tried new words, learned new grammar structures, and practiced proper pronunciation without feeling nervous because he knew I loved him and wanted the best for him in all areas of his life, especially in his English development.

Additionally that confidence and trust became a cycle that thrust him into a circle of greater and greater improvements.

Incremental growth in his confidence in English meant he could try new ways of speaking, reading and writing, and that led to even greater growth and then greater confidence and that wonderful cycle of confidence and skill building continued. 

Yes, Mark’s progress is apparent through data such as his increased length of sentences and his listening at a faster pace and his understanding of incidental language. 

Even more notably is the increase in CONFIDENCE that he has shown. The effect that CONFIDENCE has on a student’s progress and learning is, in my opinion, cyclical with increased skills and trust in the teacher.  I think the sort of confidence that Mark had by the end of our lessons is only built over time and comes from interacting with a native speaker who a student can trust. 

The trust that is built between a student and teacher provides the foundation on which a student can grow which involves the student feeling safe to try and make mistakes all the while knowing that a caring teacher is right there with him and supporting and cheering him on toward his goals!

How Rebecca Responded 

One of the first things I addressed with Mark were some pronunciation areas with the tricky /l/ and /r/ sounds. I also noticed that his listening was much higher than his speaking, so through targeted sentence structure lessons and grammar lessons, we practiced the basic ways to form sentences (subject verb order) and then moved onto more complex sentence structures as time went on.

Being comfortable with these simple sentence forms made him more confident to speak – he knew what to say and had learned how to say it, even if it was a simple sentence! 

Being comfortable with these simple sentence forms made him more confident to speak – he knew what to say and had learned how to say it. 

Many times during the lessons, I would type his words and we would work together to formulate his ideas using standard grammar. Then he would repeat the modeled sentence so that he was always practicing the right way.

After months of this, he no longer needed that much support and used many proper grammar structures on his own. What a joy it was to talk freely with Mark and hear about his day and be able to relate to his stories! 

The Results

I think this example of his words taken from September 2021 (our first class) and the next transcript from December 2022, explain best the significant progress he has made!

Transcript from September 2021:
(Mark’s first recorded words to me)
Teacher: What are your other favorite things to do?
Mark: I favorite thing play game.

Teacher: Is it like Minecraft where you build?
Mark: …racing game

Transcript from December 2022:
Teacher: (asks about his day/school)
Mark: …my school. We are going to do talent show. I am going to play the piano, but I lost my…. [sheet music]. And…6 pm, I going (no…)...I went…school. 
Teacher: Did you find your music?
Mark: I met my friends, but school door is locked. Hmmm…How do I –
Teacher: So what happened?
Mark: (pauses and takes initiative to find a word he needs online)
Mark: The school guard helped me and opened the door and go to my classroom, and find this! (shows sheet music)

Teacher: Are you nervous?
Mark: Yes, so scared!

When students receive individualized attention, they are more likely to engage with the material, ask questions, and receive feedback. They can also move at their own pace, which can be especially beneficial for students who are struggling or who have unique learning needs.

One-on-one tutoring can provide students with the support and guidance they need to reach their full potential.

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