In this modern day and age, it seems like the resources for aspiring multilinguists are infinite. At the tip of your fingertips you can find apps, online forums or YouTube videos all advertised with a single purpose: getting you to fluency. Though, many can attest that apps are forgettable and videos can be totally irrelevant.
That’s why students often seek out language tutors — actual people that can provide a personalized curriculum, give insight that only a native speaker could and most importantly, encourage you to converse in your target language. Imagine using an app to learn how to ride a horse, only to discover that you really needed to visit a stable to become a true equestrian. It’s the same story with language.
After choosing the tutor that is right for you, you’ll naturally want to know if you made the right decision. After all, language coaches are investments and should be held to high standards. You wouldn’t want a car that doesn’t run properly, right? To know if your tutor is acing the job, ask yourself if they are meeting these 6 essential criteria:
1. Target Language Only
Even when you’re just taking your first steps into a new language, your tutor should be providing continuous exposure to your target language. If you’re an English speaker practicing French, it would be a waste of your time and money to speak a lot of English in your French classes!
Let’s keep on with this French analogy. Besides actually moving to Nice or Kinshasa for a year, the best sort of immersion you can find is through somebody who will only entertain communicating in French. How else would you gain the confidence and ability to naturally form thoughts, process information or share opinions?
If your tutor isn’t reliably encouraging you to speak in your target language, even if you show some hesitancy, this could be a red flag. Don’t hesitate to request that they make this change and leave the English at the door.
2. Prioritizing Conversation
Research says that storytelling and comprehensible input are two of the most reliable methods for language acquisition. What brings both of these techniques together is the emphasis placed on communication through attentive reading, listening and talking.
If your tutor is throwing grammar worksheets at you left and right, he or she is doing it wrong. What if your tutor is spending the whole lesson explaining a minute grammar concept? Wrong, too. You’ll likely benefit from some grammatical advice along the way, but it certainly shouldn’t be the bulk of your experience.
Our TruFluency language tutors utilize the call and response method to ensure the student is actively engaging and learning, and aim to make role play and targeted conversation 75% of the class. After all, you don’t learn a language to never speak it!
3. Sharing the Stage
Along with centering conversation, your tutor should not be a mic hog. If you’re in an hour class and don’t spend at least half of it talking, there’s a problem. The more you take the stage during one-on-ones, the more comfortable you will become in real life settings.
Don’t be afraid to ask your tutor for more speaking time. Whether it’s a business presentation in Spanish or a dinner in Mandarin Chinese, you’ll definitely want to have gained the skills to speak with confidence.
4. Personalizing Lessons
The last thing any student wants while learning a new skill is to find it boring. That’s why it’s totally imperative that your language coach considers your interests and hobbies when planning your lesson.
When your tutor knows what you find exciting, they’ll be able to better recommend supplemental material. If you’re an artist, they could assign short art history articles for you to read. Or perhaps you love to run, and could benefit from listening to a podcast in your target language during your daily jog.
Among that list of considerations should also be your goals. Are you hoping to learn Japanese to get a promotion or to communicate with your grandmother? Whatever your hope is, your tutor should care and shape your learning experience as such. If it’s not relevant, then why are you learning it?
5. Building in New Material
One thing you certainly don’t want as a student is to feel that dreaded sense of stagnancy. The main purpose of language classes is progression, and that certainly won’t come if you’re practicing the same vocab list week after week.
Make sure your tutor is offering new material/new topics while incorporating what you’ve already covered. A little review never hurts, but it definitely shouldn’t be the basis of your lesson. Think of your time as a ladder, always reaching for the next step.
6. Cheering You On
Arguably most importantly, your language tutor should be encouraging you! It’s totally natural to feel vulnerable and at times embarrassed when conquering something as daunting as fluency. The important part is that your tutor creates a safe and supportive space.
Support can come in many forms, and patience and intuition are just two of the many ways your tutor can cheer you on: patience to give you the time you need when thinking of a sentence or recalling a word, and intuition to know when it’s time for some back up. If your language coach doesn’t seem to be on your team, it’s definitely time to switch things up.
Put Our Language Tutors to the Test
We pride ourselves on our native-speaking language coaches who uphold these 6 values and more. See what the students are saying and join them today!