Your example (good tutor = time reduction in achieving a certain timed goal) is common sense, when that situation happens. But the situation you describe does not happen that often in my teaching experience. (about ten years).
Most such experiences I have had with tutoring are with people who are not goal oriented. The few people that are goal oriented tend to be part of a TOEFL or Cambridge test class and are using the teacher purely as a speedy resource for appropriate language chunks and as a personal testing coach. These last 2 tutor roles I can understand because in those situations speed is of the essence and the knowledge about taking that test is not readily accessible.
For the general learner, --interested in constructing a direct relationship with the complex world of a foreign culture,-- sweat, confusion, discomfort, all approached with a positive ,“can-do” attitude, is, in my experience, essential to progress.
Since the last few years of internet development, I have never seen any convincing evidence that having a tutor helps people more than just authentic comprehensible input such as LingQ provides
I am not just focussing on LingQ, but on my general experience.
As for the public’s interaction with LingQ, the following is just my opinion:
The concept behind the website is simple:Text plus audio,chunked with flashcards, provides comprehensible input. Large amounts of repeated comprehensible input creates language acquisition, a formula I agree with wholeheartedly. It is fairly straight forward. People interested in learning language can disagree with it, but it is not hard to understand.
The reason many people need LingQ explained is they have an image of themselves as language X speakers and they want a secret, quick and easy, formula. They are, in a way, repelled by the simplicity-- or some might say mundanity-- of LingQ.
I believe they want a distraction more than they are interested in learning, and their preferred distractions are not related to reading and listening. So after they get into a text and start LingQing and find is not distracting enough, they find they just want to talk or invent some kind of intellectual system in order to nail down the language (grammar).
Still telling themselves they want to learn, they post a message saying, “How does this work?” which I read as meaning, “What’s the magic formula?”
Of the people who grasp the usefulness of the integrated tools LingQ provides and have accumulated a large database of vocabulary on their own (like you), those who want tutoring are often more likely to sign up with a tutor that shapes the conversation, rather than one that allows the conversation to shape itself.
What is more valuable to the student? A conversation in which they had to spontaneously devise the themes and convince others that they are worth listening to? or a situation where the tutor is arbitrarily deciding who and what gets heard.
I have no doubt the tutors you have had are great. And I am not really talking about original material creation, which, by the way, is maybe the greatest strength of LingQ.