English with Suzie

How to find the best teacher online – what to watch for

‘Find a good online teacher,’ they said. ‘You’ll make speedy progress’ they said…

This is how I thought it worked… Easy, right? But from listening to my students over and over again, this is sadly not the case at all.

‘I am making progress with you, Suzie, our lessons are fun. But I have tried many other teachers (on a teaching platform) and I didn’t like it. The lessons were very serious and not very motivating. I have made a great progress with you in just under a year, but I have many friends who have been learning online for years and they made no progress at all, because they do not love their teacher and do not enjoy their learning…’
- Maria, Russia

So why is it so hard to find a good teacher and what do you have to consider?

Here are some tips and tricks based on the experience of Gilson Totti, one of my fabulous students and an experienced English learner:

They are likely to talk about their specialisation and preferred teaching style. Do they offer what you are looking for? It is important to consider their background knowledge and interests to ensure that you have things in common and will be able to enjoy the conversation.

Check the technical level of their introduction video. It doesn’t have to be fantastic but it should have good volume of sound and visuals. This is an indicator that the teacher is skilled with technology and you are less likely to have problems of not being able to see/ hear each other during your lessons.

Consider the teacher’s accent. At the beginning, you probably want to play it safe and choose someone you easily understand. But once you gain a little confidence, it is good to challenge yourself and try teachers from different parts of the world, trying to understand the different accents. This will not be easy at first but knowing you can understand different accents will be a huge confidence boost on your learning journey.

If you want to progress faster, it is important to have a good study plan. What exactly will you be working on, how often, what days, etc.? Does your plan cover all the aspects of learning that it should address? Does it have goals and plans for improving your listening, speaking, reading, and writing? How about your grammar and pronunciation? What are your vocabulary goals? Find a teacher who will help you define those and create a plan of action so you learn with purpose.

It is a good idea to have more than one teacher. It’s quite common to have different teachers for different purposes… e.g. one who is good at explaining grammar and another who you really enjoy chatting with to improve your speaking fluency. It is also not a bad idea to book every now and then with a completely random teacher according to the accent you want to familiarise yourself with. Learning platforms such as italki, Blabu, or Verbling are ideal for this.

See if the teacher is happy to provide you with extra learning materials if you are interested in doing homework. Equally, if you do not have time and don’t want anything to think about after your lesson, see if the teacher is ok with that.

Last but not least, it is important to see if the teacher will correct you when you speak.

This is a tough one as many native speakers do not like to correct learners because in their culture, correcting others is not considered very polite.

However, most learners do want to be corrected because it helps them build better speaking habits. Nevertheless, even if you find a teacher who does correct you, it has to be done right.

They have to correct you without interrupting your thoughts, not stopping you in the middle of the sentence.

‘I like it when my teacher takes phonetic notes and addresses the mistakes afterwards, practicing the pronunciation, and checking again at the beginning of the following lesson to make sure I have learned it right. This to me shows that the teacher pays attention to my learning needs and addresses them. If the teacher doesn’t correct my mistakes, it feels like they don’t care about me developing my speaking accuracy and fluency, and about me being understood in general. One needs to find a teacher who has a good balance between allowing for both fluency and accuracy.’,
- Gilson explains

Hope you found these tips useful.

Finding a good teacher is crucial to successful language learning and a good teacher will ask you questions to find out if you are a good match.

They know what they are good at and what they do not specialise in.

They will be able to tell you honestly if you have found what you were looking for or you should keep looking. And now you yourself will be able to make a good judgement on this as well, knowing what to look for.

Best of luck finding the best teacher for yourself so you can start strong on your epic learning journey! 

If you are looking for a teacher right now, contact me for a free 30 min consultation and see if we are the right match 😉