Reading around the web, I realize several students struggle to find a suitable teacher for their needs. I stress this point: suitable does not mean good. Compromising is vital.

I summarize here the most important factors to choose (or not) a teacher:

1)The teacher has to know the subject what he/she is teaching. If a student asks a grammar question, teachers have to reply to that. However, we do not expect anyone to have all the answers, any time. We need to be honest. Always. Teachers can search the question then provide the answer.

2) Engaging sessions. This is the most common complaint by smart and well-committed students:  I can pick up a grammar book and do exercises anytime, I do not need a teacher for that. Teachers should integrate grammar into several activities or prepare creative exercises which match to real conversation. Well, we also need to understand if we have an ignorant (and arrogant,even worse!) student who pretends to know everything or he/she is a real smart cookie.

3) Using technology. Some students do not like sending and receiving PDFs and word documents back and forth. We teachers should take into account: a) there are mac users who find word documents a pain to work with b) there are easy cloud-based tools like google docs designed for that purpose. LiveLingua teachers have a lot of digital and online materials to suit every students’ needs. Don’t worry.

4) Corrections, corrections and corrections. Huge difference between a class and a language exchange. Teachers should always correct their students. Full stop.  Personally, when I was a language student, I hated those teachers using words such as: “I understand” “really?” oh” “interesting”. They never interacted with me seriously. Lack of passion, maybe? But this is another topic. Better to be involved in your students’ progress and tell him/her about their steps. Never and ever lie to them.  We do not sell products. We share our knowledge.

5) A teacher as a buddy. A subjective factor, but many students suffer from this lack. It definitely helps a lot if as a teacher I have something in common with my students. It does not always happen. I adopt a strategy: I ask my students to tell me their top five topics so I can prepare tailored classes. Most of the time, I learn some new things as well. In order to learn (and laugh together), the conversation needs to be intellectually stimulating. It needs time to build a trustworthy and good relationship between a student and a teacher, but it is often worthwhile and students will see the difference in their learning experience. A tips for teachers: we need to be able to understand when to be outgoing and when to tone it down.

6) Being available 24/7. Well, students should know we sometimes need to get some sleep. But I am very happy to reply to every my student before/after a class. I hope this article helps both of us, teachers and students, to increase your desire to learn and teach languages.

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