Back for part two of the Learning Online series!
In this post, we’re going to discuss the steps to take when searching for your online teacher. My advice is related to my experience using online marketplace type platforms, italki in particular. However, most (if not all) tips can be applied when searching outside these types of sites as well! Also, go ahead and click below to get your worksheet to help you keep track.
Let’s get into the steps you should take to make sure you’re choosing the best teacher for your learning.
I’ve noticed that people tend to go to a site, browse the profiles of the first teacher or two and then immediately jump to book a class.
Full disclosure: I’ve definitely done this before, which is why I know it’s a bad idea. There’s dozens, if not hundreds of teachers available who are willing to teach the more popular languages. What’s the harm in going through more than just the first 10? I know we’re conditioned to want everything immediately. The language community is guilty of this. But just like properly learning a language is going to take more than a week, choosing the right teacher is going to take more than a 5-minute browse.
When I first started looking for Korean teachers on italki, I promised myself that I would look through all of them. Korean on italki is still in its infancy compared to behemoths like Spanish or French, but there are a decent amount of options available. If I hadn’t done this, I definitely would have missed out.
Sure, there were the standard options of going through leveled plans. But I was surprised to find a teacher who helped you learn through puppets! I also came across a teacher who specializes in teaching the Busan dialect. So, so very relevant to my interests. Even though I knew it wasn’t part of my short-term goals, I added him to my list of teachers to consider once my level is high enough. Some teachers specialize in test-prep. Others will have you sounding like a native in no time with their pronunciation classes. There’s a lot out there!
I recommend going through at least 50 teachers. I know that sounds like way too many, but not all teachers will align with your goals or your learning style. By the end of your browsing, you should have at least 3-5 teachers that you know you want to check out a second time.
Sounds like a no-brainer right? It is, but there’s a lot of people out there who don’t know how to read reviews effectively.
Let’s say you want to buy a tablet. You see a really expensive one that everyone loves, but you’re currently surviving on ramen and PB&J and don’t have $700+ to spare. You come across a cheaper one but it has less favorable reviews. What to do?
There are a lot of good teachers on online teaching marketplaces that are passed over because people don’t look past the star rating. Yes, it’s a quick indicator, but what are the specifics? Someone’s negative might be your positive. Say the only negative-ish comments about a teacher are that they’re very demanding. If you’re someone who needs (and wants) a kick in the ass to keep yourself on track, is this really a negative? If that less expensive tablet only has a lower rating because it doesn’t support some fancy 3D technology that you don’t care about…is that really a reason to pass it over?
View everything in context with your goals.
Peep Their Offerings
Going off of the above, make sure the teacher actually has the classes you want to take. Not all teachers offer test prep or conversational options. I’ve seen teachers who already have textbooks and prepared materials, but others are relying on you to tell them where you’d like to start. Hell, there are some teachers who don’t even offer all levels of learning.
And then there are the packages. *rubs hands together menacingly* If you’re between two or so teachers that you know you’d want to do more than one session with, definitely look to see if any of them offer packages. Some teachers will discount their classes if you take a group of them.
Need a little more help? Download the worksheet below to keep yourself organized while you hunt for the perfect Teacher!