When I took my first online lesson as a student, I was SO nervous. I was afraid something would go wrong and I was sure it would be awkward. I must admit, I was almost tempted to not show up. But then I did, and I’m oh! so glad.
The conversation went smoothly, I got a boost of confidence in my language abilities and I learnt much more than in a study session by myself. And, surprise surprise, my computer didn’t even explode.
It turns out this extremely shy, socially anxious, introverted me feels much more at ease when taking lessons through a screen. Incidentally, also when giving lessons through a screen.
After that first time, I took several more online lessons, in different languages and with different teachers. I even moved my own teaching from offline to online. Today I want to share with you how online lessons revolutionised my language learning, and how you can get some revolution, too.
But let’s take it slowly, one step at a time.
Why should you take private lessons at all?
There are several reasons why you might want to start studying with a private teacher.
If you need to be more disciplined in your studies
The risk of losing track, if you study by yourself, is real. You take it easy once, then twice, then you don’t open your textbook for a whole week. A teacher will be also your personal language coach. You’ll be more motivated to do your homework for the next lesson if someone prepared it just for you (and is actually going to check it).
If you want to make a step forward in the language
Maybe you have reached a plateau and you feel like you’re not making progress. Perhaps you want to fill some gaps and you need the help of a professional, who is able to identify your weaknesses and help you with them. You might be preparing for an exam or a move to another country. In any case, a trained teacher can help you improve faster and meet your goals through lessons prepared to fulfil your needs.
If you want a chance to start speaking in a “safe” environment
For some of us, starting to speak a foreign language is super scary. Or well… speaking with people is scary in itself! To truly learn a language, though, at some point speaking is inevitable. Finding a teacher to have lessons or conversation with can be your comfortable space to practice, strengthening your language learning muscles and your self-confidence, before talking to other people.
If you want to have your teacher’s full attention
Learning a language in a class can help you make friends, but it can also be a bit stressful. I still remember how nervous I got every time I had to speak in front of my classmates or to practice in couples or small groups! Moreover, the pace needs to suit everyone, so it might be too fast or too slow for you. Finally, the teacher has to work with to the whole group and they couldn’t be there just for you. When you have your own private teacher, you have their undivided attention. That’s a pretty big advantage!
The obvious plus of learning with an online teacher is you have much more choice. You aren’t limited to teachers living in your proximity, which is great if you’re from a small town or a rural area.
You also have immediate access to online tools, such as dictionaries and thesauruses, that can speed up communication between you and your teacher. And you’re just a click away from an infinite amount of authentic materials for your teacher to use during lessons!
Are you are shy, anxious or an introvert? Then there are extra super juicy benefits for you. 🙂
You don’t have to go anywhere…
For anxious people, going to a place they’re not familiar with can be overwhelming. Whether you are meeting your teacher in a public place or at their home, the fear of getting lost and making yourself ridiculous is always lurking. So you will probably end up getting out way too early and having to wait for 20 minutes every time. This totally didn’t happen to me… several times.
… and no one will come to your place
The teacher won’t come to your place either, so you won’t have to do a massive house cleaning before every lesson. Because if they found one cat hair on a chair they will surely think that’s unbearably disgusting… Better still, you can learn from the sofa in your living room and you can even be in your pyjama and wrapped in your favourite blanket. If you really really really don’t feel at ease, you could tell your teacher you prefer to switch the camera off. I don’t recommend it, as face time is important to create trust and connection, but it’s a possibility.
You can do some research before choosing
Most online language teachers have a website or a presence on some social media. This makes it easier for you to do some research and find someone who gives you good vibes. You can read their blog, follow them on your favourite social media, subscribe to their newsletter, check out their videos, get a feel for their personality. Take some time to make sure you are a good match and that you like them and their attitude.
It’s so much easier to connect through a screen
In my experience, learning with someone online helps you break barriers between you and them faster. You might think that meeting in person is the best way to interact and that online lessons lack real human connection, but that’s not true at all. Having a screen between you and your teacher will actually release some tension and being in the comfort of your home will help you feel more relaxed. Chances are you’ll share a laugh, make a joke, find something in common with your teacher during your very first lesson. I have been truly amazed by being able to be myself during online lessons – incredible for someone who is so shy in front of strangers!
OK, you’re convinced. What next?
Alright, let’s say you decided you want to take language lessons online and you picked your teacher. What next?
Now it’s time to get in touch and be sure you’ve made the right choice. Take a moment to write down what you are looking for in a teacher and prepare some questions to ask them.
It’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong here. Maybe the teacher is not a native speaker of the language, but they are extremely good at it and prepared to help you learn. Maybe they charge a bit more than others, but they offer great professionalism and go the extra mile for their students. It’s up to you if you’re looking for someone friendly, for a formal approach, for a strict or a relaxed attitude.
It’s likely that you’ll know if they are right for you the very first time you talk. Whether it is a free trial, a consultation or a proper lesson, that is going to be the moment of truth. Try to be as open-minded and positive as you possibly can, but also trust your gut.
Be honest and clear about your goals, needs, favourite resources and learning style and see how they respond. A good teacher won’t hesitate to tell you no and direct you elsewhere if they don’t believe they can help you.
After the first virtual meeting, take a moment to collect your impressions. Did you feel comfortable with the teacher? Did the conversation flow smoothly? Do you have interests in common, did you share a laugh? Do you feel more confident about your skills, or about being able to meet your goals? Most importantly, are you looking forward to studying with them? If your answer to all or most of these questions is “yes”, then congratulations! You’re about to start an engaging and satisfactory learning adventure.
For me, learning with an online teacher has been one of the best things I did for my language learning.
I get guidance, motivation to keep studying regularly and encouragement throughout my progress. Last but not least, I became confident enough to speak, make mistakes in front of people, laugh at those mistakes and start speaking again. A little miracle!
What about you? Did you ever take language lessons online? Was it a good experience?
If you haven’t, why so? What is the main reason why you’re holding back? Let me know in the comments!