How to talk to beginners

Beginners cannot say much, if anything. I have one young learner, a 14 year old home schooler from Virginia who signed up for a one month course with me in Russian. We spoke in English and I explained how to learn and how to use LingQ. He had some questions about Russian, the writing system, pronunciation etc. As a learner myself I was able to answer. I think it was useful.

My point is that we need people to offer courses for learning, say English, with the course description, questions, and even much of the on line discussion will be in Portuguese, Japanese, or French or whatever the native language of the tutor and learner is.

“English beginner for Portuguese speakers” etc. Then, once the learner has had a month or two with a person who speaks his native language, if the learner does enough listening, reading and lingquing, he is ready to move on to a native speaker.

I’m new to LingQ, and I’m definitely not a Tutor, so I don’t know if it’s okay for me to post here…?

But I do teach English as a foreign language, as my job, so I have a lot of experience teaching beginners, however I actually don’t speak in the student’s native language at all. I don’t know if this is possible for your LingQ system. I know if I were talking with a tutor here (I haven’t yet), I would prefer that they make me speak my language-of-study, and not let me speak English at all.

I realize maybe most students wouldn’t be comfortable with this, so maybe this is why you don’t consider using this style. My (real life) students are uncertain at first, but I do my best to make the atmosphere warm and stress free, and use only words or phrases the student knows or is studying - which obviously is very little for beginners.

Some of my first classes with English-learners begin like this:

T: Hello
S: Hello.
T: Name?
S: My name is Andrei.
T: Question? Me? Name?
S: What’s your name?
T: My name is Jen. From?
S: I’m from Russia.
T: Question? Me? From?
S: Where are you from?
T: Good. I’m from America. Nationality?
S: I’m Russian.
T: Question? Me?
S: What’s nationality?
T: Eh? What’s -mmmm- nationality?
S: …
T: What’s -ehhhhhhh- nationality?
S: What’s your nationality?
T: Good. What’s your nationality. I’m American.

The idea is, before this kind of conversation, the student has already listened to, read, and practiced speaking vocabulary and phrases/topics like Names, Jobs, Nationalities, his/her/yours/mine.

Again, it might not work for LingQ, because in my classes (especially with beginners) I tend to do A LOT of drawing, acting, miming, or face-making for the student to understand, but regardless, we never speak the student’s native language.

It’s just what I was thinking. Anyway, I’m new to LingQ, but sometime in the future I might be interested in Tutoring for English, if you’re in need of English Tutors, but I want to use the system for awhile first and see how it goes. I’m trying to work on my Russian and refresh my Spanish and Chinese at the moment. I’d like to start Dutch and Finnish as well, so I’m awaiting the day maybe those languages are added here. (o:



Most of our tutors only speak in the target language. However, for an absolute beginner, especially via Skype where there is no eye contact, this can be stressful and difficult. However, each tutor is free to communicate with the learner in the way the tutor and learner find most comfortable and effective. A big reason for speaking in the learner’s language is to explain how best to use the site. It is my belief that a lot of listening and reading and vocabulary study serves the beginner better than struggling to speak when he or she has few notions of the new language.

Welcome to LingQ. We welcome new tutors in all languages. We like our tutors to be familiar with our system. We ask them to have saved at least 200 LingQs, and to interview with me, before becoming a tutor.

Tutors are encouraged to create their own content, for which they can earn points, and to create courses. Tutors can be as creative as they want in doing this. They can earn points to cover their learning costs here, or convert these points into cash.

I am glad to see your enthusiastic participation here and look forward to more.