Do You Really Need a Teacher to Get Fluent in a Language? - Steve Kaufmann

Some people argue that you must work with a teacher to get fluent in a language, others claim that teachers are unnecessary and that you can learn on your own. So which is correct? Like most things in language learning (and life!) the answer isn’t black and white.


sorry! that is *best regards!

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A fluent user of a language can do all 4 things: understand speech, read, write, and speak. The two input skills (understand speech; read) can be done on the internet without involving another person. Most things that are used by all four skills (e.g. grammar, vocabulary, idioms) can be learned from input.

But the two output skills (write; speak) involve a fluent user listening or reading. Otherwise, how do you know if you speak (or write) correctly? You don’t. You can call that person a “teacher” or something else. Some fluent people found people to do this for free. Others paid people to do this.


You can edit posts later. Just click on the pencil icon. However, I think your original post and the follow on are more pleasing as they are, they gave me a smile.

Best fears, or regards, according to preference.


If you can live in a country where the language you want to learn is spoken, you do not need a teacher. But in other cases to be able to practice speaking you need a teacher or someone whom you can talk to. At least this is my experience. I went to Spain for an internship and before that I only learned the language from books on my own. I could learn the language in the country in some month without having a teacher. I also tried to learned French on my own, but I could’t…I should have moved to France for that :slight_smile:

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Right now the three primary tools I’m using for language acquisition are LingQ, Language Reactor, and Lingoda.

LingQ - Is great as an input-based assisted reader.
Language Reactor - Is good as an input-based assisted viewer.
Lingoda - Provides more traditionally structured “formation.”

I intentionally pick that word “formation.” While I appreciate the “input-only” crowd’s deriding of traditional methods, there seems to have been a bit of baby that got thrown out with the bathwater. That concerns, not the methods but the content used by the methods.

At its worst, traditional methods had horrible, boring, artificial “textbook” content. However, that’s never had to be the case nor has it always been the case. I’ve found, for instance, Lingoda’s content fairly well curated.

If I’m 100% self-guided on my content selection, that’s great in that I will much more find the content interesting. However, in encountering a new language or culture, I find that I shouldn’t just layer my only pre-existing interests and perspectives onto the culture but that I should let myself be impacted by the culture. I should let the culture and people speak to me about what they think is important in their context.

For example, the other day I had a Lingoda lesson on debating pros and cons of different ideas to improve congestion and environmental impact in the urban environment. It’s never a topic I would have picked on my own. I live in a small farm town in America! But… through the lesson, I gained insight into cultural aspects, in their own context and on their own terms.

I let myself be impacted by “formation.”

Do you really need a teacher to get fluent? No, certainly not in many regards. But should how should you be impacted by formation?

I think this is a question the input-only crowd has yet to well grapple with.

IMO, being learner centric and content centric is not the death to professional-grade pedagogy.