Here are some tips to help you get the most of your private lessons with a teacher or a tutor. This is not limited to French private lessons but applies to language learning in general.
- Ask your private teacher any question you may have.
He/she will be happy to assist. (otherwise find a new teacher!). If not with private lessons, when would you have such an opportunity to ask your questions?
- Don’t think you’re stupid if you forget something.
Repetition is a normal part of the assimilation process (think of when you were a child: even in your own native language you made the same mistakes many time before the correct structure could definitely sink in). You also have the right to forget things. (Who remembers everything straight away? Not me!) If there is something you really can’t understand, tell your teacher so that you can work together a different way of getting around the difficulty.
Work first on how to convey your message simply. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, your teacher will help you get everything straight.
- Get involved.
Let your private teacher know if you want to work on something specific such as reviewing a grammar notion, getting assistance to read or write to a French friend, etc. Communicate with your tutor in advance so that relevant material can be prepared for your next session.
- Find your learning style. Review your notes regularly.
You can rearrange them as you want, create vocab lists, etc. Whatever works best for you. If you’re not sure about what your most efficient learning strategy is, your teacher can help you find it.
- Do extra homework to reinforce grammar notions.
There are tons of free online resources available. You can also purchase a textbook with grammar exercises and the answers. These will help you see the grammar notion used in various contexts. The aim of these exercises is to systematise and reinforce, but you then need to use the grammar notions in your own sentences (see tip #7)
- Regularly submit your own essays to your private teacher.
You can keep a diary, write a book/movie review, a chapter of your life, an article about something you like, etc. Your own production actually is the best material as it assesses your ability to reuse what you’ve learnt and tracks your progress. This is the practical complement of tip #6.
- Look for other, non-formal opportunities for practice.
It’s best to learn using different ways and media (podcast, movies, meetups, etc). Check out my article for tips on “How to French Your Daily Life”.
- Do you have the right teacher?
Language learning is a beautiful challenge and should be enriching and exciting. It is also very important that you find a private teacher whose personality and teaching style suit you.
- Be dedicated. Schedule your private lessons at a pace that fits with your budget, lifestyle and needs (for example, you may want anywhere between one lesson a day and one lesson a week if you find you easily forget what you learn. If you are regularly studying or exposed to French language and just want a bit of “maintenance”, you may find that a lesson every second week is enough). In any case, stick with your schedule. Refrain from abusive cancellations/making excuses. Your learning progress can only suffer from a lack of consistency and all your efforts (and money) will have gone down the drain.
Do you have other tips to share? Feel free to comment below. You could be helping other students!