Tutoring at LingQ

We have had a lively discussion about tutoring at LingQ on another thread. I though it worthwhile to create a special place to discuss this.

We want lots of tutors, and we want lots of people to use tutors. We have tried various methods with great success. I must say that I have had great luck in finding tutors for Russian, and somewhat less luck in Portuguese. I have, in general, greatly enjoyed and benefited from participating in discussions with them. I also tutor English, and occasionally French.

We though the Getting Started shelf in the Library tied to a free lesson would generate more activity. This has not proven to be the case, and seems be an irritant with some.

Mark and I are looking at the whole tutor issue at LingQ. We are inclined to pay for the controversial “free lessons” but we want to limit this to tutors whom we know are good. This has us thinking about creating a category which we would call “LingQ Certified Tutors”. We are thinking of what would constitute the qualifications but we need to keep it simple. Do you have any advice?

We are thinking of demanding the following.

Must be a paying member. ( We may, or may not, grandfather or grandmother some of our existing long serving tutors)
Must have created a minimum of ??? LingQs.
Must have an oral interview with me via Skype.

Possible additional conditions which we are inclined not to demand

Must have submitted writing for correction.
Must have joined one discussion as a learner
Minimum Activity Index

What I would be looking for in a tutor in my interview would be:

Good skype connection and sound quality
Ability to converse and keep conversation going
Pleasant and encouraging manner
Ability to handle technical aspects of Skype and discussion report
High standard of language skills in native language, and in another language if the intent is to help beginner learners of that language.

I would be interest in your ideas about what else should be considered.

Bear in mind that anyone would still be able to tutor, but only those who qualify would become Certified.

Any other ideas? We could, for example set up a LingQ Tutor course with a certificate, call it the CertTLOL (Certified Teacher of Langauges on LingQ) Certificate and charge 1000 Italian Lire for it, and another advanced DipTLOL for 5000 Greek Drachmas.

Any thoughts?

I meant without success!!!

Sounds good. All of the the criteria are relevant. Rather than a tutor course I would think it would be easier, and I would suggest perhaps more in the LingQ spirit, to have tutor ratings. I would limit the ability to rate tutors to those who have at least 30 minutes paid time with a tutor, so we won’t have drive-by character assassinations. There would have to be a variety of criteria (perhaps some of the above) .

I prefer to have tutors who have experiences with language learning. But I met tutors who were no learners but excellent teachers.
An oral interview is a good idea. Also it is very encouraging for new members to speak with you. Or you can ask experienced users to sign up for conversations with new tutors and sent you a resumee.
Must have joined one discussion as a learner is a good idea in my opinion.
Minimum Activity Index is difficult if the tutor is not a learner.
Good skype connection and sound quality is a must.
High standard of language skills in native language is a must too.

A rating system would be the best solution. But Edward made a good point. Only experienced users should be able to rate tutors. He suggested 30 minutes paid time. I would say they should have a minimum of 5 conversations. The rating should include different aspects.

We do want to have an evaluation system and I agree dooo that it should work in such a way that it would only appear after a minimum of 5 appraisals and we could also think of eliminating the worst evaluation of each tutor to avoid particular and non-representative evaluations.

On further reflection, if we insist on a minimum of 100 created LingQs it should not be necessary to require that all tutors be paying members. All we really want is that our Certified Tutors understand our system. Some tutors may be taking a break from learning and may still want to tutor, for example.

Note that our new members will still be able to have their “free lesson” with the tutor of their choice, including non-certified tutors. LingQ would pay for the lesson in any case. However, we assume that newbies are more likely to choose Certified tutors.

All of these things will take programming resources, so there is no telling when these things will all be done. Stay tuned.

I think Vera suggested 5 conversations. I said 30 minutes. I originally thought one hour… which would be 4 paid conversations, but it is easy to shut people out that way. I don’t think the type who would give an unfair evaluation for fun would pay $10 US to do it, although I may be wrong.

I think that having tutors who are active languages learners is a big selling point of LingQ. It certainly went down well in my college interview.

Asking for minimum activity index is interesting, although problematic because your activity index can drop dramatically after even a short break. I would suggest a minimum number of known words, created lingQs, conversations attended and words submitted as a learner, maybe equivalent to three months of steady part-time study. By that time a tutor can be considered to be an experienced user of the system, as well as an experienced language learner.

You could add in a minimum number of lessons added to the library, after all teachers are generally expected to create learning materials.

You could also ask for a minimum number of conversations hosted as an ordinary tutor, maybe 12 or 20, with an acceptable feedback level from the participants. You could also ask for a minimum number of pieces of writing corrected. You can (if you want to!) presumally review the quality of writing corrections before deciding whether to certificate a tutor.

Just as a related aside, I actually think a way of rating and sorting library items would be a lot more interesting to a user than rating tutors.

As a student, I’d also like to see (if it’s doable) quality of the ‘conversation report’ taken into consideration during the certification process. Some tutors may be reasonably good during the conversation but the reports may turn out disappointing (too short, do not correspond to what you were saying during the conversation etc.).

Absolutely, and we need some consensus on what should be in the report - which is probably different depending on the level of the student.

I’ve got anything from just a handful of words and some comments, to half a dozen of improved sentences + a couple of paragraphs about the conversation, my current skill level etc.

Guess which one I like.

One thing I would like to see from my tutors is that they’ve had a prior conversation with another tutor before I schedule a conversation, or have submitted writing before if I’ll be submitting writing to them. This assures me that they know the process and have at least some idea of what they should be shooting for when they send reports to me.

Of course, I would waive either of those requirements for tutors who have held quite a few conversations or corrected quite a few writings – or, if a ratings system is in place, I’d waive them for tutors who have excellent ratings.

All of this is to say that there are a number of metrics by which to measure basic tutoring competency and knowledge of LingQ. I think that in some of the cases you propose, Steve, qualifications should probably be on an ‘or’ instead of an ‘and’ basis.


Paying member OR long-serving tutor OR high activity level
Submitted writing/signed up for convos OR hosted/corrected a large number of same


I agree that certification candidates should have an interview with you, but have you the time to vet many people over the short timeframe in which they’d probably want to be certified? (Also, what does “maturity” mean in this context?)

I think this would ensure the greatest quantity of excellent, LingQ certified tutors. Quantity of tutors is, of course, important so that current tutors don’t burn themselves out, and so a wide variety of times, languages, etc are offered. (I know I don’t have to tell you that.)

Wow, that was long. Hopefully some of that helps.