So, you have been learning a foreign language for years and haven’t made too much progress? Or not as much as you’d expected? Well, you’ve definitely had a bad teacher!!! NO. You probably just didn’t take responsibility for your own learning. Here are some examples of what my students told me about their previous teachers.
1. My teacher makes me do stupid and boring exercises.
Did you tell them that? Or did you just assume that they are boring and decided not to see them any more? Well, guess what – if you tell your teacher what you do and don’t like, they might actually listen! Maybe when the teacher him/herself was a language learner, they loved exercises of that sort and don’t realize you hate them so much! Being a language coach, I understand how important it is to define the needs, goals and motivation behind someone’s willingness to learn, and I always tell my students to share any doubts or comments. Actually, I know a lot of teachers who do so. However, some of us are afraid of their authority being undermined and are not eager to make any changes. If you work with such a teacher, I don’t blame you for leaving them. But always before you do, think whether you could have done more, or were just too lazy to ask.
2. My teacher makes mistakes and doesn’t know all the words.
Ok, if your teacher has serious gaps in their knowlegde, then there might be something wrong going on, especially now, when anybody who speaks English might decide to become a teacher. However, if you have a qualified teacher and it happens that they don’t know something – that’s completely natural! Do you know all the words in your native language?! I don’t believe you do.
3. My teacher has terrible pronunciation
Nowadays, with English becoming an international language, pronunciation is less and less important. Many people choose to speak with an accent (of their own language) to keep their national identity, or just because they don’t care. As long as you are understood, perfect native-like pronunciation doesn’t have to be your primary concern. However, if you are a pronunciation freak, find a native speaker or a teacher, whose pronunciation is native-like. Check it during your first meeting and if you don’t like what you hear, just don’t continue your meetings.
4. I’m not making enough progress.
How do you expect to make fast progress if you have meetings with your teacher once or twice a week? You say you also do some homework? That’s not enough. Let me tell you how you learned your first language. First you just listened a lot. You were surrounded by people speaking the target language so you absorbed it naturally. When did you start
ed (as you can see, I’m not perfect;) to speak? Probably when you were two, or a bit earlier. That’s two years of being exposed to the language!!! Then you started to say simple syllables, words, and later simple sentences. Next, you went to school where you continued to learn and expand your vocabulary to be able to read and write more and more difficult texts, articles, etc. Now you’re an adult and you probably still don’t know all the words. From time to time you also make mistakes. So how do you expect to make fast progress in a foreign language studying only 2-4 hours a week?
If you really expect this to happen, you need to do a lot of work. Not your teacher. You. The teacher already spent many hours learning the language, now it’s your turn. Ask them what you can do at home. Do you like reading? Ask your teacher to recommend you a simple book, or read magazines/newspapers in the target language. Listen to audiobooks on your way to work. Speak to yourself while washing the dishes or cleaning. Watch films. Change the language of your operating system. Find groups of people who share your interests and also speak the language. It is so easy to learn a foreign language now with the Internet being able to connect you with anybody in the world!!! Use this opportunity! However, I always say that a teacher is like a therapist or a hairdresser. You’re not going to feel comfortable with someone you don’t like, or with someone whose personality doesn’t suit you. But remember – teacher is only your tool and a sourse of inspiration! You, and only you, have the power to bring yourself to another level!
So, are you ready to take responsibility for your own learning? 🙂