How long have you been having private language lessons up to now? Have you been trying for a few months but haven’t got everything you wanted? Are you about to start but are not sure exactly how to make the most of it? In either situation, or for anyone else who’s interested in taking private lessons, we have some key advice to maximize their impact and effectiveness.
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If you want to get the most out of your language classes --- online or offline --- consider the following:
1. Work with Native-Speaker Teacher
If you really want to get the best effect, it’s important that you spend at least a portion of your language instruction with a native speaker. You might have someone from your home country to teach you day to day about some complex things such as grammar, but practicing your speaking and listening skills with a native speaker at least once a week is a real must.
We understand that taking the leap and working with a native speaker can be intimidating at first. You might be afraid to make all kinds of mistakes, or be feeling totally unprepared and afraid to freeze when the teacher asks you something and you don’t quite understand. All of this is absolutely understandable, but it’s not necessary to feel this way, and you should try everything you can to overcome this.
A native-speaker teacher will help you pack so much more learning into every class, especially speaking and listening. They can also help recommend ideal reading and writing exercises to help you with your particular needs, as well as effective supplementary materials you can use outside of class time.
2. Ask Questions
When you’re in class, you should be ready and willing to ask questions. The most important time to ask a question is when you either didn’t understand something your teacher said, or you have a clarification question about something you’re learning in or out of class. This gives you a chance to practice speaking in your target language to ask your questions, but also will clear up confusion and ensure that you don’t proceed with your learning using faulty thinking or wrong ideas.
3. Ask for Corrections
Okay, this one is a bit of a hard sell for some, but stick with us! Yes, it’s a fantastic feeling to make it through a sentence or speech in a second language without being interrupted or corrected. But, what if you really did get quite a lot of stuff wrong? What’s a good and professional teacher supposed to do? Just nod their heads and say “good job”? Is that the experience you want?
While teachers can use their good judgment about being too picky or fussy about tiny mistakes, they are doing you a favor when they point out your language errors. Whether they do it as you’re speaking as a prompt, or wait until you’ve finished before going through all the mistakes, it’s all done for your ultimate benefit.
Some students may start with working with a new (and better) teacher, only for them to tell them on the first day that they’re pronouncing a particular word wrong. Did these students’ previous teachers really do them any favors by never correcting them? The result was that they assumed they were right and their mistake became a bad habit that was then harder to eliminate.
4. Speak Up!
When you’re in a language class, your overall policy and approach should be “the more I can get to say out loud in today’s class, the better.” This is why smaller classes or even 1-to-1 tuition with an online or in-person tutor is a wiser option than joining a big group class, even if it’s more expensive to do it that way. If you’re serious about mastering a language, and gaining a new skill, then you have to speak up as much as you can in class.
Music teachers and youth orchestra leaders use a similar approach with their young students. They tell them to play the note “loud and wrong” at first. But why? Why do music and orchestra teachers put themselves through that racket? Why not just get them to play the right note from the start. These music teachers know well what language teachers have long known: the more you notice your own mistake, the faster you can fix it.
So, speak up in class, and never be afraid of doing it “loud and wrong.”
5. Request Homework or Supplementary Materials
Finally, no matter what the potential backlash might be from fellow students in a group class, you should always ask your teacher to either give you homework to do, or to recommend some reading or listening materials to use between now and your next class. This homework or these materials become the tools you need to continue building up your skills and knowledge in between classes when you’re out of the immersion zone.
🎉 Get started!
Are you interested in really, finally learning a new language? Here at LanguageConvo we connect you with a professional, native-speaking teacher for affordable, customized private lessons. Get started with a 100% free trial lesson by clicking here.