Are you looking for a teacher or language school? How can you tell if a teacher or a language school is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
It is subjective, but today here is one crucial thing to look out for.
Have a look at the following examples:
1. Pavel, an intermediate (B1) learner of English, is looking for an English course here in the Czech Republic. He googles “učitel anglíčtiny” and finds a language school right in the centre of town.
“Skvělé” he thinks to himself.
He then reads about the school – in Czech.
He then goes to the school and speaks in Czech to the receptionist who gives him a placement test.
Maybe he’ll speak with a teacher in English as well, but mostly the whole process is in his native language.
Then the course starts, but because all the students have done the exact same thing, they can’t speak in English to each other except for when the teacher is in the room.
Can you already see what Pavel’s mistake is? And indeed the school’s?
2. I’m also a language learner and can tell you these stories from my searches for a teacher or school:
- When I advertised only in Czech last year on www.jobs.cz for a teacher of Czech, one woman replied to me only in English saying how knowledgeable she was, that she had the best qualifications to teach me (the advert said reply in Czech).
- When I was looking for a French teacher on Italki.com recently I could see that most advertisements for French teachers were only in English.
- Over the past few years, when I write in Czech to a Czech teacher or school for lessons, they usually reply to me only in English.
- Even about 40% of French teachers have replied to me only in English.
So What’s The Mistake To Look Out For?
Many students are choosing a school or teacher who doesn’t speak to them in the language they want to learn!
The whole time you interact with a new teacher should be in the language you wish to learn, except for when you really are a complete beginner.
Why? Let’s look at this in detail:
What does it mean when teachers don’t communicate with you in your target language?
First up, the communication before the course officially starts offers a great opportunity for a teacher to get to know a potential student or client, and to get a better idea of their linguistic level. So if a teacher doesn’t speak to you in English (or in my situation, if they don’t speak in Czech or French), it means they don’t even understand this vital first step.
Second, it means they’re creating an atmosphere which will make it harder for you to speak English. Seriously, if you’re at a language school in Brno and you spoke Czech the whole time before you walked into the classroom, there’s a very good chance that you’ll speak to your classmates in Czech and that your English will be limited to when the teacher is in the room.
Furthermore, if your teacher doesn’t speak to you in English, then you probably won’t see them as being the person you should always speak to in English. To give an example, once I had a student who knew I could speak French, so when something was hard to say, she just said it in French. I understand that translation has its place, but you want your teacher to be 100% part of your English world. If you know you can speak to them in another language, then you take away this one big advantage.
Next, it’s important for *you* to decide if you like how the teacher communicates in English. Some teachers will write or talk to you in a friendly, less formal tone. Others will talk to you in quite a formal tone. How can you decide if you like the way a teacher communicates in your target language if they’re speaking to you in another language?!
It’s a bit like going to buy a car. What if the salesperson tells you:
“We do have a car for you. But sorry, you can’t see it just yet, it’s out back in another showroom. You can see it and drive it after you’ve paid for it.”
The Final Word
When choosing a teacher or school speak in English first and then you will have the best chance to see who is the most motivating and professional teacher of English for your needs.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
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