Throughout the years of learning languages, I’ve realised that a good teacher can make a massive difference. Unfortunately, a decent tutor isn’t always easy to find. Read on to discover how to improve your chances of discovering a gem.

Think Outside of the Box

It’s surprising that so many people still rely on traditional tutoring where a teacher comes to you or you come to your teacher. Fair enough, if you have no access to technology but otherwise? Such a solution is a massive waste of time either for the person doing the commute. Why to do it when you can have an online teacher?
You can spend the time you’d otherwise spend on commuting on reviewing material, a session with Duolingo or on something completely unrelated to language learning.
I don’t think I have to convince anyone that more time is better, do I?

Why Is Online Teacher Better?

Online teaching has been growing over the years with people recognising that it saves you not only time but also money.
People charge less online for the following reasons:

  1. They live in a country where the cost of living is relatively low
  2. They’re new to a given platform or have little experience with teaching
  3. They’re bad at what they do

People who are bad at what they do often are desperate for money and will accept the lowest rates just to keep afloat. That’s how they win with their competitors. Don’t trust someone just because they provide a service. Check for yourself whether they’re any good.
People who simply don’t have much experience on a given platform or as teachers can be cheap. You can luck out with an inexperienced teacher but be careful with them. You may end up with someone who rides the wave of simply “being a native speaker” and has no idea how to teach or learn a language.
Your chances of getting a good teacher who doesn’t charge much are the highest if that person lives in a country with a low cost of living. However, even a more expensive teacher on an online platform often costs less than a teacher in your country.

Where to Find an Online Language Tutor?

Just google it. The only platform I could recommend as it’s the only platform I’ve used is Italki. I’ve been learning languages there and I’ve been doing some teaching too. It’s good but I can’t tell you that it’s the best choice as I haven’t used any other platforms. Perhaps the fact that I didn’t have to look any further speaks of its quality, though.
I’m also aware of the existence of Verbling, which could be quite good as the platform only hires native speakers with teaching experience. Now, I don’t necessarily think that native speakers are always the best teachers but that’s a topic for another post 😉

How Do I Know a Teacher Is Good?

I trust people more than I trust qualifications. If I see many positive reviews with people giving specific comments about how a teacher has helped them, I’m interested.
If I just see generic comments such as “A great teacher!” I’m more careful, even if someone graduated from Harvard. People often say nice things just after a lesson because they feel obliged to do so. Specific comments speak more of the teacher’s quality than about a student’s compliance to social norms.
A teacher should also let you speak. The golden rule of teaching is limiting the three T’s: teacher’s talking time. If a teacher talks at you or goes on about their private life, ditch them. You’re not their therapist.
Good teachers also give homework and suggest resources. They pay attention to your needs and focus on your mistakes as well as the ways to improve them. They should have something prepared for you for every lesson, be it a conversation topic or exercises.
Last but not least, they speak the language well, which isn’t to say they’re an online dictionary. Whether the teacher is a native speaker or not, they may take a while to find the right work for a given context.

Big No-Nos of the Search for the Right Teacher

There’s also a number of things you should not do when looking for a good teacher:

  • Focus solely on the price – if you’re looking for the cheapest teacher out there you may be missing out on great teachers based in locations more expensive to live in
  • Stick with the first teacher you find because you’re don’t feel like looking – if you find a teacher you like immediately, you’re lucky. Usually, to find the right teacher you’ll have to try a few out and that’s okay. (Almost) nothing worth having comes easy.
  • Stay with a teacher you no longer want to work with – some people make a great first impression but longterm they’re not the right match for you. You don’t owe your teacher anything, they’re a service provider and if you don’t like the service you should replace them

Finding a good language teacher isn’t simple but the world of online teaching has made it easier than ever. You have countless options. Use them and find someone good at their job spending less time and money than you’d on someone from your country of residence.
If you’re wondering whether you need a teacher at all, check out my previous post.

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