Tutoring can often get a bad reputation, just like schooling or language classes, but I’m here to shine the light. Tutoring is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself if you have the ability to take advantage of it.
The debate exists that schooling, whether it be college or language classes at a language school, sucks in general and tutoring seems to often be grouped along with these. I have a real problem with this. The truth of the matter is that you can only pick what college you attend and you can only pick what language school you go to. Yet you can’t pick your teacher nor the materials you will be going over. Therefore, you’re much more likely to encounter problems because there is a good chance that…
However, with tutoring none of that is possible. Here’s why:
So don’t give me excuses about tutoring. Sure, you may not be able to find a good tutor and I understand that, but don’t complain about tutoring itself. There is no reigning dictator(school boards ) choosing who, what, when, how, etc you’ll be studying. YOU will be making all of those decisions. Yes, it’s more work, but you’re becoming a big boy now anyways, right?
Enough with the rant though, I’m really here to tell you why you should get a tutor if possible and what to look for in a tutor.
I don’t care what anyone says, motivation is extremely tough. Yes, at times you’ll have an abundant amount of it and you’ll be as high as a kite(so to speak ) but there will indeed be times you crash that kite into the ground and it burns.. oh it burns.. Just understand, to every up there is a down. The sooner you realize that down time is normal, the easier you’ll be able to get over it.
Tutors can play a huge role in building motivation as long as you find a teacher that is truly enthusiastic about it themselves. My 先生(sensei/teacher) actually provides me weekly with information about Japan itself. She tells me about stories when she use to live over there as well as everything she can think of that might be beneficial for me. Recently we’ve started going over things to do and not to do. As well as big differences in daily life. For me, this helps wonders because I hear all these things and it certainly just makes me more interested in traveling over there myself!
Just remember, your tutor may not know you’re interested in learning about them. Often times they just think you’re doing it for business, to show off, or to watch anime/read manga, so make sure to explain to them that you’re interested in everything they’re able to provide!
You really don’t think this is as big of a deal as it is till you have it available. It’s amazing at how fast I am able to catch on to slight intricacies that I wouldn’t have even caught if my 先生 hadn’t mentioned them to me. It may be pronunciation, word order in a sentence, etc. If you’re just speaking to someone that knows Japanese, like at a restaurant, they may not mention anything is wrong/different because they’re just so surprised you can speak anything at all. Plus, they may not want to point out flaws as to not make you lose face, but that is what a tutor is designed to do.
A tutor is there to tell you when you’re wrong and when you’re right. Utilize this “feature” by asking your tutor if your pronunciation is correct and whether or not there is any thing you can do to improve it. One piece of feedback that I’ve been given in the past is to eliminate short breaks in my speech by changing “今日 は ビール を 飲みます。” into ”今日は ビールを 飲みます。” Though the first sentence may not be wrong, it doesn’t sound nearly as fluid.
At places like college or language schools, they tend to baby you when it comes to conversational practice. Part of the reason is that not everyone moves at the same speed, so while you might be dedicated and learning the language at a rapid rate, your fellow classmates may be slow and barely able to keep up even when the teacher is babying the class. Tutors break this barrier.
Tutors often know that if you’re coming to them, you’re generally more self-dedicated than the rest thus they will generally automatically put more pressure on you. My 先生 does this quite a bit. The moment she see’s what I am struggling with, we hit it hard. For instance, one of my biggest problems is that I can read a sentence in Japanese and produce a English translation a lot quicker than I can read the same sentence in English but produce a Japanese translation. Because of that, my 先生 now forces me to put focus on that when I would have just said to myself, “Meh, I can read it.. so I could make that sentence too from English text.. *moves on*”.
It’s really quite funny actually, since my 先生 makes me laugh. She will sometimes just stare at me waiting while I’m giving her an answer or trying to piece together a sentence, because she wants me to make a full attempt before giving me any help so that I don’t just worm my way through problems that arise.
I’m not saying that all tutors are awesome, or even that most of them are, but what I am saying is that everything relies on YOU choosing who is suitable to be your teacher. This strips away the ability to put any blame on your teacher or on fellow students, because you chose your teacher and you are the only student.
Just understand that a tutors duty is not to do everything for you, but to simply be there when you need them. Don’t expect to only study with your tutor or you won’t ever get far. The dedication and responsibility has to come from within yourself. Your tutor is just there to make it all flow much better and to keep motivation high. If you’re not getting these benefits from your current tutor, you might need to think about finding someone else.