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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

Three Types of Students

Over the years, I’ve seen many types of students in my classes. Although every student is unique and cannot be lumped only into one category, I’ve noticed three main categories of students. Some students are a mix of the three types, and other students change depending on the season. Let me share the three categories so you can possibly identify your own category and decide if or how you may want to change your category.

The busy student

The busy student has very little free time due to job-related responsibilities or family-related responsibilities. They may desire to prepare for class and improve their English dramatically, but the reality is that work or family are simply the most important. This is not a bad category to be in. It’s just the reality that the student faces. Students in this category should be commended for their effort to show up to class. Sometimes they’re absent or don’t prepare for class at all, and that’s okay! Again, their life is busy and the most important things are work or family or both!

My advice for the busy student is to ask themselves what is most important to them. Work and family are very important and should not be compromised for an English class. However, if a student is taking an English class but is often absent or unable to prepare at all, they are not getting their money’s worth or the full benefit from the class.

I would urge this type of student to think of a way to creatively make a little bit of time each week for English preparation. It might be by listening to audio during their commute or exercise. Or, it might mean spending just 15 minutes each evening preparing for the lesson. In the end, making the sacrifice to prepare for class will probably feel good to the student and also allow the student to make real, tangible progress. And, this can potentially impact their work a lot.

But, at the end of the day, busy students are great because they try to show up and maintain or improve their English regardless of their busy schedule. And that is something I deeply admire about busy students.

The relaxed student

The relaxed student has enough time to prepare for class and show up to class very regularly. However, they prefer not to spend too much time preparing for the class since they have other responsibilities or hobbies that are also interesting to them. A great thing about relaxed students is that they don’t feel stressed or pressured to prepare too much or to be perfect. When they prepare enough and show up to class, they benefit quite well without worrying or stressing.

My advice for relaxed students is to keep asking questions about what they really want. In a sense, relaxed students have a great balance of preparing for class but without too much stress.

The questions they should be asking themselves are these:

What is my English goal?

Why do I prepare X number of hours per week?

Am I avoiding certain difficult things such as memorizing vocabulary, incorporating new words into my answers, or answering difficult discussion questions, etc.?

But again, overall, relaxed students are quite balanced if they are able to prepare some but not over prepare to a degree that seems “perfect”. Being a balanced student is a pretty good place to be.

The focused student

The focused student spends more than enough time to prepare for each class and is rarely absent. They take each material very seriously and write out all their answers either word for word or in outline form. When they’re asked to share their answers in the discussion, they are always ready with a well-thought-out answer.

Some of the most focused students even incorporate vocabulary or idioms from the previous classes into their answers in the discussion. This is very impressive and useful because it allows them to demonstrate an ability to use the words they have learned as soon as possible. This is not easy, but certainly ideal and admirable.

My advice for focused students is to not worry too much about being perfect. They should continue to prepare well, but they should avoid depending too much time focusing on their notes and, instead, speak freely without hesitation regarding mistakes. Yes, they should forget about perfect grammar and pronunciation and, instead, focus on expressing their ideas freely and casually.


So there you have it – three main categories of students. The busy student, the relaxed student, and the focused student.

Which one are you? And, do you want to change or adjust which type you are? If so, just remember that you don’t need to change everything and you don’t need to change things right away. You can choose just one small thing or goal to adjust each week and experiment with it. Each week, just check in with yourself and see what you want to continue adjusting for the next week.

I hope these observations have been helpful for you. Good luck on your English communication journey!


Want to connect with the changing world in English?

(online or in Yokohama-Motomachi)

to expand your:

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global awareness

cross-cultural communication

(Advanced and intermediate only)

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