Learning a foreign language is something that will benefit you for a lifetime, but it does take resolve. That means you will both need and benefit from some professional help. It’s not so easy though, as many experienced language learners will already know. The problem is that there is a seemingly endless crowd of teachers out there, as well as schools and other education companies clamoring to get your business. This raises an important question for serious learners:
What should you prioritize when searching for a private language teacher?
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The fact is that whichever organization you end up working with, the important considerations about the language teacher remain the same. We’ve listed and elaborated on three ideas below, and we hope you find them useful in helping you pick from the choppy sea of language teachers.
#1 You should absolutely choose a native-speaking teacher
Native speakers will deliver where non-natives simply cannot. Would you choose to learn math from a historian? Probably not.
At the beginning of your studies, it might be convenient to have a teacher that speaks your own language (note that your LanguageConvo teacher speaks English!) The important thing here is not to get reliant or comfortable on learning in your own language. The more you use, hear, study, practice the language you're learning - even if you don't understand every word spoken - the faster and more successful your journey to fluency will be.
#2 Make sure your and the teacher's schedule work well
Timing is a critical consideration. You need to first consider your own time, that’s for sure. When choosing a language teacher, will you have enough time to work with them regularly? Can you guarantee the same amount of time each week? These are important things when choosing a teacher. Being available one week and not the next is a recipe for language learning disaster! We've seen that students who stick with a schedule are much more successful than students who do not.
Is your teacher's schedule available for easy viewing (e.g. in an online scheduling platform like ours), or do you have to call/text them every time you want to set up a lesson? Are you forced to have the exact same schedule every week, or is it a bit flexible? What is the cancellation policy?
#3 Clarify the teacher’s qualifications
Here at LanguageConvo, teaching their native language is each of our teachers' primary jobs. That's not the case with every teacher out there though, so inquire about this. Is teaching just a part-time hobby for them? If so, be cautious.
A private language teacher has to be both qualified and experienced. Millions of people may speak a language, but that doesn’t mean any native speaker can just go ahead and teach! Think about it - could you, as an English speaker, effectively teach verb conjugation? Could you teach the details of adverbs and adjectives effectively and in a fun, clear manner? If you're not going with a professional education company, make sure you get the work experience of teachers you are interested in working with.
One more thing to look for is a teacher who might have some knowledge of your language or culture. This isn’t so you can talk to them in your own language, but rather so the teacher will have some insight into the common problems that people of your culture have in learning this target language. For instance, English teachers with knowledge of Chinese language will understand that the pronunciation of “th” and the letter “v” is especially hard for many Chinese because they don’t exist within the Mandarin dialect.
A teacher who knows your particular challenges can better tailor the class to suit you.
In the end, take your time
Through these three things, you should be able to determine well enough if a teacher is suitable for you. The trick is never to rely on one factor too much. One teacher may have all the time in the world, but also be thoroughly inexperienced. Another may have years of experience, but can’t give you the native-speaker edge that a different teacher can. Consider your options and get your priorities in order. Happy studying!
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