Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

September 14, 2009

Advanced Students – A Case Study

It’s often a good idea to find out about the experiences of other students so I thought I’d post a few case studies selected from my own advanced students. Here is the first.

These are real stories of success but they also illustrate the trials and tribulations of the journey the student and I took to reach their goal. The experience in each case was as rich and rewarding for me as it was for them.

Student 1 – Mehmet

The first lesson

Mehmet was a civil engineer with a large UK construction company. The company approached RLI for English training to help Mehmet with his spoken English.

At the first lesson I was surprised to discover that Mehmet had been living and working in the UK for almost 25 years. He was Turkish and had come to the UK as a  graduate. I also discovered at that meeting that he was not happy about having been sent for English training. He spoke fluently with a high level of English and the only discernable problem was a strong accent. He had a very successful career which had not hitherto been affected by his English.  He had recently been promoted and was now required to lead meetings and give presentations he found this challenging but was not convinced that his English was at fault.

The course

I sensed some hostility and realised that my first task was to prove to Mehmet that I could actually be of use to him. I decided that we should work on his pronunciation. I identified areas for development and we began. It became clear when we tried some mini presentations and pronunciation drills that the real problem was one of confidence and being out of the comfort zone.

Out came the tape recorder:  I recorded me, I recorded him. I made tapes of stress pattern drills and samples of sentence stress, model sentences and mini presentations. He took the tapes and played them in the car listening and  repeating. It was ‘old-fashioned’, ‘no-frills’  drilling exercises but it worked. Gradually I gained Mehmet’s trust and gradually he gained confidence.

A series of breakthrough incidents then began to happen!

Breakthrough 1

While waiting outside a College to collect his daughter, Mehmet was listening to one of the tapes and practising some of the sounds – articulating them clearly. He was concentrating hard and didn’t notice a small crowd of students gathering around his windscreen. Once he spotted them he laughed and explained he was practising his pronunciation! Real confidence!

Breakthrough 2

Mehmet was a member of a Turkish cultural organisation and he was helping to organise an event. He was asked to step in and open the proceedings (in English) as the chairman was delayed. Hesitant at first , he finally agreed and his colleagues in the organisation were very impressed! He made a big impact that evening.

The lessons continued and Mehmet’s confidence grew. Colleagues at work were noticing his new found confidence. He was making presentations and leading meetings. He also assumed a more visible role in his cultural organisation.

Breakthrough 3

Shortly before our training sessions were completed Mehmet came to one lesson very excited. His organisation had been invited to send delegates to an International conference in Strasbourg and he had been asked to make a presentation to the delegates. He was beside himself with excitement and had absolutely no qualms about accepting the invitation!

We completed our lessons soon after this and I did not hear how the conference went. I know, however, that with a few pronunciation drills and his own meticulous practice, Mehmet went far beyond the goal set for him and it opened up a whole new world.


  1. […] case study 2 Jump to Comments Here is my second case study in the series.  As with the previous story,  this is a student I worked with who had a particular goal for his English […]

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