Do I need a language teacher? How important is learning in a classroom?

Hello everyone,

I`ve been learning English for several years now. A usual part of my learning activities has been a weekly evening class. Unfortunately, the teacher, who inspired me so much, is going to move somewhere else now. I consider dropping the whole evening-class-thing, but I’m not sure if I should. The reason is that my opportunities to speak English are rare at the moment. On the other hand, I like learning on my own through reading, listening and using Lingq, and - last but not least - I have my doubts whether I can ever find a comparable teacher.
What do you think about the importance of learning in a classroom, especially for learners without many opportunities to speak the foreign language? In that regard, I also think of grammer instructions: Isn’t it better to have a real person you can ask if something is not clear?

I look forward to your opinions.

Katja

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Hi!

I doubt my opinion on the matter would be useful to you since it seems like you already made up your mind: you like both learning in with a teacher and by yourself on Lingq.

I think that you should try italki if you like learning with a teacher and need to find a prof with whom you’d be a good match.

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Your answer in the video below :-Language Learning - 7 Secrets of Success: #1 Spend The Time. - YouTube

But if you asked me, I would say it’s useful to watch a teacher elaborates a grammar rule.

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Hi Katja!

For many years I took lessons in a classroom to learn languages, first because I had no choice (at school), then because I thought it was the best way to learn. By then the internet in Europe was not what it is now!

Now that I can choose what I want and find so many things on-line, I really prefer to learn by myself. To learn a language I need to listen a lot, to read a lot and to speak. On the first two skills I can work by myself. I can also speak alone (ah!ah! I really do, very often) but of course I need someone to practice. I like to speak with natives, no matter if they are teachers or not. But I also like to speak with a teacher, because I can ask all my questions about the language and he can give me tips and ideas to find usefull ressources. But I can do that on-line too! I don’t really enjoy grammar exercices either, so when I look for someone I really want to practice, not to spend time on exercises. Although sometimes I have questions about grammar and I like to ask them to a teacher, but I don’t look for formal lessons.

Personnaly I don’t enjoy group lessons. I can’t speak enough. If I schedule a 30mn lesson I know I’ll practice for 30 mn, much more than I could do in an hour lesson with a group.

So, to answer your question, learning in a classroom or taking formal lessons with a teacher are not an obligation and for some of us it’s not what we like at all. It depends on you, on what you like, on what you need. You can try online lessons to see if you find something you enjoy and a teacher you like.

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I prefer having a language coach not a teacher. Someone there to answer questions when I have them. Someone to have a conversation and not practice grammar exercises. Using the conversation as a means of identifying areas that I need to work on in a natural way. I like to collect words, phrases and idiomatic expressions and discuss these with my coach so I understand better. As well I prefer a coach that understands the different ways people learn. For me it is quite clear that I am a visual learner. If my coach only did audio classes I would have a great difficulty learning. I need to see the words in print and then I can see them in my head. Then I need to hear them to make the brain/ear connection. I can’t change this aspect of how I learn. Some will say yes you can but I have been doing this long enough now to know that just doesn’t work for me. First the eyes connect to the brain, then the ears connect to the sounds. I know I don’t have enough opportunities to listen and to speak Spanish. So I visit a Spanish country whenever I can. I don’t care for exchanges with others learning English. I need someone to be able to explain the whys. The average spanish speaker can tell me what I said was wrong but can they explain why; so far my experience is no they aren’t capable nor am I with respect to English. I can’t tell you how many times a spanish friend has said ‘that’s just how it’s said’. Many cases that is true, but often there is some explanation but a native speaker hasn’t had to think about it or its been a long time. So yes a coach can fill the holes but they can’t make you learn.

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Hi Katja, as a LingQ learner and an English teacher, I see benefits in both ways of learning (by yourself and in class). But after reading your post, I think that perhaps the thing you need most is an online conversation partner to compensate for your lack of opportunities to speak English ‘in real life’.

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Well Canadians must learn french for years, Americans must learn Spanish, Japanese and Koreans are required to learn English for 6-8 years in school… and all of those programs are a complete bust.

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Of all my language teachers over French, German and Russian some 15 or so people, I think there’s only 3 who stand out. Finding the right tutor or tutors, which will probably take some experimentation, is probably the best approach.

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It’s amazing. I mean, there has to be some good data on most inefficient learning method of all time. How they can have a class where you stare at a language for 8 years and come out learning nothing is impressively inefficient.

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I agree that elementary / high school language programs can be very poor. But it’s important to differentiate between language teaching in high school and language teaching at private language schools (typically, but not exclusively, for adults). Two obvious major differences are that private language schools will usually instruct in the target language and that their curriculum is not aimed towards passing standardised testing, which tends to focus out of necessity on writing/grammar and is therefore pretty inadequate, leading the curriculum to be equally so.

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