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Helpful Information

New User Introduction
Tips on Selecting a Good Teacher
Guide to Contacting English Teachers
Guide to Teaching Conversational English

Tips on Selecting a Good Teacher

If you don’t already know what kind of teacher you want, these tips might be helpful. Please note that these tips were written concerning teachers of English, Spanish, Italian, and other Western languages. They may not apply to teachers of other languages.

  1. First, tell the teacher what you want to study (pronunciation, conversation, test preparation, etc.). Then, ask the teacher if they will make a lesson plan and how each class will be structured. A good teacher should be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction.

  2. If you are a beginning student, a good teacher won’t ask you what you want to study, they will know what you should study.

  3. A good teacher will correct your mistakes and help you focus on strengthening your weak skills. They will interest you with challenging lessons rather than bore you with things you already know.

  4. A good teacher will not make you feel bad about a weak skill, they will correct you and make sure you remember.

  5. Many times there is more than one correct answer. In these cases, a good teacher will tell you the best answer, but won’t insist that it’s the only answer.

  6. A good teacher will offer to give you homework and offer to correct it. It is your right to refuse homework if you are too busy, but a good teacher will suggest you do homework.

  7. If you have a teacher from a Western country, remember that they expect you to ask them questions. This is standard in Western educational systems. A good teacher will answer your questions, but won’t be diverted from the lesson plan by them.

Guide to Contacting English Teachers

Chinese English
你好,我的名字是蘇珊 Hello! My name is Susan.
我對學習英文很有興趣 I am interested in studying English.
我在 網站上看到您在找學生 I saw you are looking for students on the website.
您一堂課收取多少費用呢? How much do you charge for one lesson?
您可以算便宜一點嗎? Can you make it cheaper?
您可以每次上課教不只一個學生嗎? Can you teach more than one person at a time?
我可以有一堂免費的基礎介紹課程嗎? Can I have an introductory lesson for free?
我可以在我們開始第一堂課之前先見個面嗎? Can I meet you once before we arrange the first lesson?
我們可以在那裡上課呢? Where can we do the lesson?
您可以在咖啡館教課嗎? Can you teach me at a coffee shop?
您可以在我的公司或家中上課嗎? Can you teach me at my company / house?
我想要上兩個小時的課。 I’d like to have a two-hour lesson.
我的工作時間是早上8點到下午5點。 I work from 8AM to 5PM.
我們可以在星期一早上見面(或是下午/晚上?) Can we meet on Monday mornings? (afternoons, evenings?)
您星期二什麼時間方便呢? What times are you available on Tuesday?
我們可以每週固定時間見面嗎? Can we meet at the same time/day each week?
我們何時可以開始上課呢? When can we start the lessons?
我想要下個星期六開始上課。 I’d like to start next Saturday.
我想要下個月開始上課。 I’d like to start next month.
我們應該約在那裡見面呢? Where should we meet?
您的地方靠近捷運站嗎? Are you near an MRT station?
那一站是最近的站呢? What is the closest station?
那裡靠近火車站嗎? Is that near the train station?
我的手機號碼是 ... My cell phone number is ... .
您的手機號碼是多少? What is your cell phone number?
您上課會使用什麼教材呢? What materials do you use during the class?
您將會穿什麼樣的衣服呢? What will you be wearing?
第一次上課,我需要帶任何材料嗎? Should I bring any materials to the first lesson?
好,那我們3月3日星期三,早上11:00在台南火車站的售票亭前面見面。 OK, so we will meet at the ticket gate of the Tainan train station at 11:00AM on Wednesday March 3rd.
如果有任何變動請打電話告訴我。 Please call me if there are any changes.
好,到時候見。 OK, see you then.

Guide to Teaching Conversational English

These are some ideas you may find helpful when teaching conversational English. Keep in mind these are just pointers, and may not be useful if the student already knows what they want.

  1. Make a plan. Make a lesson schedule (syllabus) with the student and follow it. That way you can tell if you're going too fast or too slow. Many teachers naturally go too fast, simply because they forget that they’re the experts. A lesson schedule also gives both you and the student an exit strategy. For example, after 20 lessons you can part ways without someone feeling bad for canceling the class.

  2. Structure each lesson around one topic and avoid going on long tangents. Examples of topics are "buying things", "introducing yourself/others", "phone calls", etc. You could also structure each lesson around a newspaper or other article. This goes hand-in-hand with the lesson plan. Unstructured lessons will quickly become boring and repetitive for both you and the student. Depending on the student’s level, 70% structured work and 30% free conversation is a good rule of thumb. Avoid doing 100% free conversation at all costs. Unless you really hit it off with the student, it will get dull fast. Besides, the student won't learn anything.

  3. Expand your idea of proper English. A student may say something that sounds odd to an American, but it may sound perfectly normal to someone from the UK. Let it go; don’t get bogged down on hyper-correct grammatical issues. If it sounds really weird, tell them a better and simpler way to say it.

  4. Correct them. This is why they pay you. When you correct them, insist that they repeat the corrected form. Most students will do this anyway. Some will do it for a while and then get lazy. It may feel awkward at first, but they will remember much more if you insist that they repeat after you.

  5. Make notes during class. In one-on-one, a pad of paper is a good substitute for a whiteboard. Let them make a copy at the end of class (use 7-11 if you want). That way they can review something besides their own notes, and you'll have a record of what you've already covered.

  6. Give them homework. See how they do without you prompting/helping them. The more un-homework-like the homework the better. You could ask them to watch your favorite English TV show/movie with the subtitles off (or covered up) and then explain it to you next class. Give them prepared questions if you’ve seen the show/movie before and they’re low level.

  7. Start each class with a short review of the previous class (another reason to take notes!). This may only take five minutes, but it's very useful to the student. Even if you just ask, "Do you remember what 'blah-blah-blah' means?" you'll be helping them tremendously.

Bilingual Articles

Is an English Tutor Worth It? - Have you ever wondered whether it's better to study at a buxiban or with a private tutor?

How to write an English CV - What it takes to write a CV that makes you stand out from the crowd.

IELTS - Introductory article about IELTS, one of the world's most recognized and accepted tests for measuring one's English abilities.

Choosing an English Name - Tips and practical advice on selecting a good English name.

TOEIC - Describes the basics of this English test.

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