I've heard teachers count both ways:
"ONE two three and TWO two three and THREE two three"
'ONE and two and TWO and two and THREE and two." Both have a syllable for
each footfall, and count bars with the stressed first syllable matched to
the stressed first beat of the bar. I prefer the first way, since it also
counts out the footfalls within each complete step. The second way uses
"two" to show the second stressed beat of the bar, good for jigs.
Getting the new dancers to hear the phrases: talk about it. Illustrate it.
Ues tunes they know from children's songs, like "My Grandfather's clock"
or Christmas carols. Encourage them to buy recordings to play at home; we
bought a bunch of remaindered Tullochgorum and Bobby Brown records at
fifty cents each and give one to each new dancer.
I like the definition: you're not a beginner any more when you don't need
help to get through most dances and figures. You're past intermediate when
you're able to help others get through without messing yourself up and can
maintain good technique.