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working with multiple teachers on italki

Working with multiple teachers on italki

So you have decided that you would like to learn German (or any other language you’re currently studying) and are wondering how to progress as fast as possible. Great. In this article, I’ll give you some tips about how to work efficiently with multiple teachers on italki.

If you have never heard about italki, please read this article first and if you don’t have an italki account yet, sign up with this link and receive USD 10 in italki credits for your future language lessons.

The series of articles about how to use italki efficiently consists of these articles (the articles 4-6 will be published soon):

  1. Improve your German on italki
  2. How to work efficiently with a community tutor
  3. Working with multiple teachers
  4. How to afford professional teachers when you’re on a budget
  5. Advantages and disadvantages of structured lessons
  6. Speaking practice – Avoid these pitfalls

But let’s now find out how to work efficiently with multiple teachers on italki.

How many lessons a week make sense?

This is question I’m often asked as a teacher. There’s no answer that works for everyone but I think that regular lessons are more important than a huge number of lessons. Unless you have an unlimited budget and love to learn through immersion, a combination of 1-3 lessons a week and self-study and reviewing works best for most people if you study just one language at a time.

Taking lessons with a italki teacher has the huge advantage that you can always reevaluate and adapt. Especially when we start learning a new language, we are excited and motivated. I’ve had quite a few students who started with 2-3 lessons a week but slowed down to one lesson a week after a couple of months. That’s totally all right, don’t feel bad about it as long as you keep on studying.

If you’re just maintaining your current language level, 30 minutes of speaking practice every fortnight is also a possibility – but you should have reached at least a B1 level of your target language. Otherwise, you are likely to forget too much, especially if you don’t have much time for self-study.

If you’re starting from scratch, give it a try with 1-2 lessons a week plus self-study for six months. When you study German and speak English as a native or near-native speaker, you should have reached a low A2 level by then and are welcome to give it a try with the “Jobsuche in München” book :-).

Teacher combination: 1 Professional teacher + 1 community tutor

This is my personal preference when I start learning a new language. A professional teacher will offer you a structured approach and is able to explain any doubts you may have about grammar or the use of certain structures or expressions. He or she will challenge and help you at the same time. At the end of each lesson, you should have a list of new words and have learned new grammar.

Even though a good professional teacher will always give you a chance to review certain things by asking you questions which trigger previously learned vocabulary or grammar, practicing stuff from your professional lessons with a community tutor will help you a great deal.

When you’re starting from scratch, try a combination of 2×60 minutes with a professional teachers followed by 1×30 minutes with a community tutor. As soon as you’ve got your first 500-800 words under your belt and know basic grammar, combine 1×60 minutes structured lesson with 1×30 minutes tutoring.

The lesson with the community tutor can be one day after your structured lesson or you stick to 2 – 5 days between lessons in general. Just try it and find out what works best for you.

Teacher combination: 1 Professional teacher + several community tutors

If your budget and time allows it, you can give it a try with a combination of one professional teacher and several community tutors. Just like in the combination we discussed above,  you will have your lessons with a professional teacher to follow a structured approach and get qualified feedback.

Using several community tutors allows you to to speak about the same topic or practice the same grammatical structures with several people. This works well for people who don’t like to study vocabulary or grammar but learn by repetition.

It doesn’t matter whether you stick with the same two or three community tutors for a longer period of time or change them frequently. If you want to talk to as many tutors as possible, you just have to make sure that you don’t lose too much time introducing yourself. You can avoid this by writing the tutor a message saying who you are and what you would like to practice during the lesson.

Teacher combination: 2 or 3 professional teachers

I’ve already met people who do this but it’s not something I’d recommend for most people. Professional teachers normally offer structured lessons and give you homework. They assess your level when you start working with them and that means that you are likely to go through the same grammar and possibly topics with all teachers.

Such an approach may be useful for you if you’re a slow and unexperienced language learner who has little time to study on their own. Or who feels embarrassed when having to ask the same teacher to explain something for a second or third time. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed, of course but we’re all human, so it may happen.

If you would like to give it a try with two professional teachers, get yourself a female and a male one. That will give your listening skills an extra boost and men and women often don’t speak totally the same as far as the use of vocabulary is concerned. Working with teachers of different generations can have a similar effect, by the way.

Teacher combination: 2 or 3 community tutors

Working with two or three community tutors is challenging because you are responsible for planning the lessons and preparing for them. There are community tutors on italki that offer structured lessons but they are not the ones I’m talking about.

Working with several community tutors is a great option for experienced and well-organised language learners who are able to study and understand grammar on their own and are looking for a lot of speaking practice.

This approach works best if you’ve already reached an A2 level and will become easier the better you speak the language. However, as an intermediate or advanced student, you need to take care that you don’t end up having just small talk conversations with your tutors. If you want to advance, you need to challenge yourself with choosing the topic you want to talk about carefully.

Read an article or watch a video about a certain topic, write down unknown words or words that you understand but never use and practice them with your tutor.

Conclusion

If you have enough time and the budget, working with multiple italki teachers can boost your language skills significantly. However, you need to figure out which teacher combination works best for you. Don’t spend too much time thinking and looking at teacher profiles, though. Choose one or two teachers and book your lessons. There are so many teachers available on italki these days that you can always choose new teachers if you no longer like your current ones.

If you don’t have an italki account yet, use this link to sign up and receive USD 10 in italki credits. 

Happy language learning!

Daniela is a native German speaker who has taught the language online since 2012. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and some Hungarian. Currently, she's residing in Peru but maintains a traveling lifestyle as a digital nomad. In March 2020, she published her first book "Deutsch online unterrichten" for aspiring online German teachers and is now concentrating on writing fiction for German learners while pursuing some other small projects.

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