So I'm gonna lay out a scenario for you all that may be very familiar to some.
You get a new student. This student tells you she's paid for 2 (or more!) years of English classes, and that she actually studied with (and "finished") the textbook you use in your classes.
You test out this student's English. She can hardly understand anything you say, and her English is in pretty bad shape. Think Google Translate meets a slow type-to-speech machine. It's absolutely not her fault. She's a pretty smart person, successful in her career, etc. She's just had horrible teachers and has been ripped off for the last two years.
She doesn't want to start over in a basic class, partly because she doesn't want to "redo" everything in general ("but I've already taken basic English classes, teacher!"), but also because, in her case, she's already used the basic textbook. (She just happened to have a teacher who waltzed through it and apparently didn't actually teach her anything.)
You decide to offer a sort of "basic revision course" for her, which you don't usually do.
OK... I'm gonna switch out of the second person.
So I offered this particular student this sort of review course, which in my case means just using all the material I've prepared to accompany the textbooks I use. (With other students, I would simply insist that they start over w/ the basic book.) She said she already studied with the textbook, so I figured that she'd be familiar with the grammar, controlled vocabulary, etc, so the reviews would mostly be ways to help her speak with the stuff she'd already learned or at least seen.
Unfortunately, this review course idea isn't working out, for 3 reasons: (1) She didn't really learn anything in her previous classes, so there isn't much reviewing going on -- there's a lot of me teaching her things for the first time, but without the controlled activities of the book; (2) her Brazilian English has been fossilized, so even though I tell her 5 times that she can't say "I live near from the shopping" and should instead say "I live close to the mall," she still says it, because that's the way she's always said it and no one ever corrected her and now it's habit; and (3) she would ideally like to be focusing on English for her job in scientific research, so she keeps trying to write about it as homework, but she's absolutely not at that level yet.
I don't want to lose her as a student, but I can tell she's not really enjoying things because it's just me correcting her a lot and the lessons aren't very cohesive without a book. I personally don't want to reinvent the wheel for myself for this one student. I'm not going to buy a new basic book from a different publisher and make new material to go with it. Besides, I don't even know if just starting over with a different basic book is even the best solution.
What do you fellow teachers do with students like these? Unfortunately, there are so many. They've had bad teachers for so long that it's harder to teach them than it is to teach someone who's never studied English. They get all mixed up. It's harder for them to "write over" what they learned before. There's also the psychological weight they have to deal with: (1) they spent so much time and money on English in the past, and for nothing; (2) they have been speaking wrong all this time when they thought they were getting by decently, and now they feel embarrassed and stupid; (3) they have to keep track of what they learned before and what they're learning now and what's right and what's wrong, and that's hard, and after a while, they start to get really discouraged.
I feel really bad for these kinds of students and I want to help them, but I don't know what to do.
What do you guys do? Even if you don't teach, feel free to share some ideas, or just some horror stories, or whatever.