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How to Tell if Your Language Teacher is a Hack

How to Tell if Your Language Teacher is a Hack
Finding a good foreign language teacher can be difficult because many people in the profession are not well-trained or do not care about their work. This article provides some tips on how to evaluate your language instructor and how to make sure you don't end up with a bad one.
Penlighten Staff
Full Immersion - The Best Way to Learn?

Have you ever enrolled in a full immersion language course? In case you are not familiar with the term, a full immersion language course is a course where your native language is never spoken. During each class, both you and the instructor only speak the target language. For many people, full immersion sounds like the best way to study a language, and it usually is. If your language instructor does not speak any other languages, however, make sure you are learning from someone who really knows how to teach.

English Instructors

In English speaking countries, it is becoming more and more common for young people to go abroad after university and to make money teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). In most cases, English teachers are required to have some certification that proves they know how to teach. However, some people with very little training and even less skill have been able to find jobs teaching EFL.

Evaluate Your Own Progress

Whether you are studying English, Spanish, or any other foreign language, there are a few ways you can tell that your teacher knows what she or he is doing. First and most importantly, are you learning? If you have been studying with a teacher for a few weeks or months, really think back on your previous lessons and decide whether you are noticeably improving. If you are not getting any better at the target language (the language you are trying to learn), chances are your teacher is not doing his or her job.

Is Your Language Instructor Lazy?

The second way to tell if your teacher is a hack is to analyze how hard she or he works. Many people take up language teaching because it seems like a way to make an easy buck. They think they don't have to study much to do the job, since they already speak the language they will teach, so they become language instructors even though they do not really care about the profession. The vast majority of teachers like this are lazy. Does your teacher use listening activities in class? Does your teacher bring extra exercises and plan activities that are not in your course book? If your teacher promises to look up the answer to a question, does he or she follow through? If you answered no to any of these questions, your language instructor may be lazy.

Are You Getting Personal Attention?

If you are in a language class with other people, make sure you are also getting plenty of personal attention from the teacher. A good language instructor should circulate around the room during group activities, correcting students' specific mistakes and giving students a chance to ask the teacher questions and get personalized language advice. If your teacher does not do this, instead standing at the front of the room during group activities or listening without helping you, consider complaining to the school or transferring to another class.

How to Avoid Bad Language Instructors

How can you avoid enrolling in a course with a language teacher who does not know how to do the job right? If you are in a university, talk to other students who have taken classes from the instructor you are considering. You can get valuable advice and learn which teachers to avoid by asking around. If you are thinking of taking private classes on your own, go through a language school in your local area. Many individuals who offer private classes on their own, do not have access to the resources they need to be good teachers. Language schools are usually selective in who they hire, and, more importantly, they can match you with an instructor who is a good fit for your specific language needs.

Finally, if you are not happy with your language instructor, do not be afraid to express your concern with your school or with the instructor himself. Your learning process is important, and you deserve a teacher who will work as hard as you do.