I thought that today I'll put out some words for you from the view of a personal language tutor. I believe hiring a language tutor is a decision to be taken lightly. It's not the same as language exchange, and not the same as teaching yourself a language. I also want to point to a particularly good and well-written post from Claire at Conquering Babel. She has been sharing why it's a good idea to hire a tutor - many, many reasons of course.
Having worked with a large group of students both in 1-to-1 environments, my recommendation is not that this lesson format automatically works for everyone. Some people dislike the pressure of the situation, others will want to focus on meeting many other learners. But ultimately, here are three learner types which do very well in this type of lesson. Do you recognise yourself?
1) The shy or introverted learner
You like to build up a good level of trust before telling people more about who you are. Before speaking, you will think through the full statement, and you want to be sure you're getting the words right. Homework was invented for you, because you love revising and reading more about the target language country.
This testimonial from one of my awesome students is a good example of how a 1-to-1 lesson can feel for meticulous and introverted learners:
I loved doing the 1-to-1 sessions with Kerstin because it was nowhere near as stressful as learning at school. The beauty of such sessions is that you get more focused attention and the sessions are based on your own language ability, which helped me because there is less pressure when working at your own pace.
If you have ever felt like classes at school are moving too fast, or you are lacking that speaking courage, then working with an expert 1-to-1 tutor is a great alternative. Good teachers know when to let you think, when to explain something again and when to listen to you.
2) The busybee and multitasker
You like language learning for the challenge as well as the achievement, but it's hard to find time for it between all your other commitments. You listen to language tapes while driving and write your shopping list in the target language, because it's so hard to get some time in.
1-to-1 lessons are perfect for this type of learner, because you will find the language teacher as flexible as you need them to be. Some students of mine love their regular slot, studying online at lunchtimes. They could not find any class that is as convenient. Others need to juggle the class times around commitments like business trips and meetings, so they will appreciate the chance of having a class at the time they can free up for it.
Both of these busy groups benefit from both online and offline classes, and once again having a tutor can be a godsend here. No matter if you want to switch on Skype or have a class in your kitchen, the 1-to-1 format will fit around your own needs.
3) The starter (and not finisher)
You love the excitement of a new project, the new gadgets to buy and the vision of charming all the locals with your language skills. Your enthusiasm can get you through HOURS of study, but after a few months the new language can get boring. Maybe learning knitting would be cool?
If you're this type of learner, the big advantage of hiring a language tutor will be that you are making a commitment and putting your money where your mouth is. Your tutor is an accomplice - once you've hired them, your success is their business and they will know when you get bored.
In fact, this is probably one of the most important reasons for hiring a tutor: They'll work hard to stop you from getting bored or giving up. Now that's a benefit.