The 7 Key Traits of a Great Language Tutor

What do you look for in a tutor? What do you look for in a lesson? What do you look for in a team? Here are my 7 musts!

1. Partnership

Being a tutor is actually quite simple. Usually, the word ‘tutor’ is easily and quickly replaced with the word ‘friend’ if you find the right person. It doesn’t matter who hired whom. You’re now here together in a (hopefully) long lasting and committed relationship. No one is better than the other. No amount of knowledge or fluency of a language can ever give us an excuse to act haughty or to be asked to put on a pedestal. Really, you are both here to learn. One person’s learning will more about the language but we have to get to know you. We have to get to know what you are here to teach us. Which is usually quite a bit! No solar plexus imbalances can be found here. It’s a partnership where you must take turns on who’s leading.

2. Praise - Give and Take

“You made it!” “You finally started learning that language you’ve been dreaming about for years!” “This is the first excellent steps of the many that you’re about to take!” You should hear these things often from your tutor. Not just hear it but see it, feel it, sense it. They should radiate oozes and goozes of a smell similar to a proud mama bear seeing her cubs climbing a tree. You should also accept it. It feels good to be praised. Don’t cover your ears, don’t giggle it away. Hear it, see it, feel it, sense it.

3. Heart to Heart

Niceness, kindness, flexibility, empathy = great amazing qualities. Put them all together into one big bowl and what do you NOT get? Weakness. However, it is understandably hard to combine all of the love and support we have for our students with the firmness and strictness that is at times needed for them to be successful. It does not come easy and is at times messy to figure out. Look for these key phrases:“You’re doing great but you can do better.” “You didn’t show up today. I know today was tough but here’s something you can do to prepare for next week.” Constant communication and constant check-in makes sure the commitment is still there. The desire needs to be strong and the only way that can happen is if you’re reminded of the expectations. That you’re actually going to accomplish what you signed up for.

4. Celebrations

You’re not the only one doing this. Have you ever looked up the hashtag polyglot? Or langlover? There are so many cool people around the world… no around your community doing the exact same thing that you’re doing. In love with the exact same thing that you adore. A good tutor will bring you together. A good tutor will create community, celebrations, friendships, a support team, a good time.

5. Date Around

Did I say long-lasting committed relationship? Yes, of course. But you won’t jump right into it. You need to date around some, see what’s out there, look for your other half, your tutor half. A good tutor will give you space. They’ll understand if you need to see someone out there. Doesn’t matter if it’s you not me or if it’s me not you. Ultimately, you’re the decision maker. If you want us, we’re here. If you need someone else, let me help you. Connection is key to language learning and we’ll help you find yours.

6. Past the Language

I’ve mentioned celebrating together but what about working together? Yes, that should be a given. You’re learning and for that to really happen you must put some work into it. But I’m talking about a different type of work. Not about languages but for something outside of yourself. Community work is so important. I mean, think about it. You’re learning a new language but what are you going to use it for? To talk to the people whose native language it is. But are you just going to talk to them? Don’t you want to care for them? Help? Assist? Give? There are so many ways to give back to the community that you’re learning about. It should always be a main part of your learning process. Your tutor should create space for it and, not only encourage it, but participate fully in it.

7. Leave Your Mark

My work as a tutor and your work as a learner are tied together in a unique way. I provide the framework and you provide the canvas, the colors, the object of the painting. I want to know you. Your personality, your traits, your quirks, your goals shape my job. You are an integral part of my business. I want to show you off. I want you to leave your mark.

#languagelearning #languagemethods #lessons #language #tutoring #community

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