I recently looked at a lot of English materials online for an article I wrote, how to learn English (for free). I was inspired and amazed at the amount of incredible, high quality, free English resources and courses to help you learn English, this got me thinking do you need an English teacher?
Let’s begin with a quick story, I used to live and teach in the Czech Republic. For those of you who haven’t been, the Czech Republic has a lot of delicious beer and pastries, a lethal combination for my waist line. It soon became obvious I needed to get to the gym (and fast). The more I trained, the more I thought that learning English is a lot like going to the gym (let’s call it gymglish, getting fluent fit). And one of the questions I thought about while training was this: do you need a coach or trainer at the gym and for that matter English? In a online world where there is an abundance of free English learning materials, do you need a coach?
I took my question far and wide to students and teachers and we all agreed on 6 very important reasons why an English coach can help you get English fit. So, here they are:
Already have a teacher? skip the list and read about how to get the best results from working with a teacher.
1. Tailored lessons, like a good suit
You are not a one size fits all, you have learning strengths and weaknesses, passions and certain requirements (your own english goals). A teacher can make sure that a lesson is tailored especially for you or your class. A personalised work out plan, based on your or your class’s English goals, needs and passions (hobbies), will help you learn much faster (it’s like driving a car from A to B without going via C and D).
2. Your weaknesses
Hey, none of us are perfect, we all have some things we are great at and some we are not. You may be able to chat for 24 hours in English but your grammar could be a mess (or in my case, I could only do 3 push ups). A teacher will identify your English weaknesses and provide you with strategies, exercises and guidance to improve your weaknesses (in a fun and engaging way).
3. Error correction
Turns out the gym is dangerous, make a mistake lifting a weight and you could seriously injure yourself. A coach is there to immediately correct your errors, before they become a problem. A Youtube video, podcast or blog cannot error correct your English mistakes (and help you improve your English quickly). A teacher, on the other hand, can pick up mistakes you are making, immediately note them and help you correct them (especially mistakes you make a lot).
4. Accountability and motivation
Your teacher is also your coach, and a great coach should keep you motivated, improve your game and provide you with a programme and strategy. There are days I just want to lie on the coach eating pizza and drinking wine and you need that extra helping hand pulling you off the coach shouting “drop and give me 20 pushups (negotiation phrases)!”, (unfortunately your couch won’t), but a coach can and will push you for a little extra sweat.
I’ve heard (because I have never actually run one) that when you are running a marathon you get a runners block. Your body stops and you just don’t want to go on. While I may never have experienced runners block, I have seen students hit an English block, you are just not improving and you want to give up, it’s times like this that a teacher will make the difference between success and failure.
5. Provide quality resources to help you learn
On my first day I walked into a gym, took one look at the 1000s of machines (resembling torture devices), classes and equipment and walked straight over to the gym cafe for a coffee (workout day 1 finished).
English, like workout programmes, has an abundance of free resources, methods and opinions-yay!- but, where do you begin? A teacher can help ensure that you work with highest quality resources for you and save you from an information overload.
Finally an English trainer, like a personal trainer, has an in depth knowledge of their subject. With an English teacher you have a conversation partner with an in-depth knowledge of English grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, who can answer all of your English questions as and when you have them. A teacher also knows all the various learning strategies and will help you use these learning methods and strategies so that you can learn as quickly as possible.
So (after this list of awesome reasons) your thinking of getting an English teacher (or you already have one), How do you make the most of your English teacher?
Like going to your personal trainer once a week will not help you get fit, your once a week English lesson is not enough to get you fluent.
In order to get fit, I knew I had to eat well, go to gym more than once a week and do a little bit of my own research, goal setting and motivation on the side. So here are some things you can do to make the most of your English lessons:
Prepare for your lessons so that you can get maximum talking time practicing new things you have learnt and getting immediate error correction.
Do the learning at home and the practicing with your teacher!
Review all of your lessons after the lesson to help send all you have learnt into your memory bank.
And like gym, do a little bit of English everyday. Here are some great ways you can get a little English learning into your day.
Never be afraid to tell your teacher what it is you want (it’s like getting a new haircut and not telling your hairdresser what you want- you may end up with something unexpected), tell your teacher about your hobbies and passions, bring in articles you think are interesting or English books or movies you want to be able to read or watch.
What should your teacher do?
Your teacher should help you choose your English goals, provide you with a English strategy to achieve your goals, keep you motivated and continually improving, error correct your English and provide you with quality exercises and materials.
T0 wrap- up
An English teacher, like a personal trainer, is there to help you through the process of becoming English fit, boost your learning and help you achieve your English goals quickly.
What else does your English teacher help you with? I would love to know in the comments below.
Next week, we will look at the difference between active and passive learning (you need to know the difference if you want to become fluent).
Do you need an English teacher? Great, I love teaching English students, check out my lessons here and let me help you get English fit!
If you would like more great English articles, free lessons and e-guides follow me on Twitter.