This came in overnight:
I would like to sign up for the free online Italian lesson but am afraid to for a couple reasons: not sure how well I will be able to speak Italian (I get too nervous) and I don’t know how to skype. I’m assuming I have the capability to skype, I’ve just never done it. I was hoping the free lesson would go well so that I could then buy a package of lessons. I want to become more fluent but have no way to practice speaking on a regular basis. Please advise.
What to reply?
A year and a half ago, I did my own free trial online lesson (as a student, I mean).
It was for Swedish.
I’d NEVER SPOKEN A WORD in that language before, though I’d been studying it and had completed Duolingo, I recall.
Before the lesson, I was irritable with my kids, nervous, and yes, I suppose – afraid.
If you think taking an online lesson would be a weird experience, imagine what it’s like for a teacher like me, and a near-beginner to boot!
The feeling of not being in control is totally unfamiliar, and quite terrifying.
Suffice it to say, the lesson was not a success.
The teacher spoke to me in English the whole time, treated the whole thing more like an interview than a lesson, and made absolutely no attempt to get me speaking her language.
She suggested that, as I hadn’t taken lessons before, we start from page one of the beginner coursebook.
Having got half-way through said book on my own, and feeling I had at least some understanding of Swedish, I felt insulted, and hurt.
But, more than that, I was hugely disappointed.
I’d hoped, AT THE VERY LEAST, to get a few minutes speaking practice – some basic questions and answers, maybe. My age, my job, my family, where I lived, etc.
I won’t say which online provider I used, but it was the most expensive one, and their website boasted qualified, experienced teachers (as we do…)
And I absolutely HAD intended to buy a course of lessons. The club was paying, after all.
Besides being upset, as a professional language teacher myself, I FRANKLY COULDN’T BELIEVE what a mess had been made of the trial lesson.
So I wrote to the owner of the company, with feedback on the experience.
Surprise! There was no reply.
Beh, they spend money on advertising, have a client walk right in with money burning a hole in his pocket, mess up the sale, and then don’t even write back when the student writes with feedback.
If they’d offered a trial with a different teacher, I’d have given them the benefit of the doubt and tried again.
I was that keen!
More fool them, then.
What happened next?
Nothing for a couple of months.
Then it was time for one of our own ‘free trial lesson’ promotions, perhaps the first, I don’t remember now.
So I figured I should try again with my own learning.
No excuses, if you want to write about something, you should at least try to understand it.
And I was still studying Swedish, and still not getting very far on my own, so I felt the need.
This time, I chose the CHEAPEST provider on the Internet to do my free trial with.
Of course, it was a waste of time, though not so humiliating as the previous one.
But after the trial, I FORCED MYSELF to sign up for a pack of 40 hours, at a massive discount!
It was evident from the free trial that this second company, being absurdly cheap, was using ‘teachers’ with zero experience or qualifications.
And paying them a pittance.
But I figured, if I, at least, know what I want (basically, lots of speaking) then I have a better chance of getting it with a younger teacher who can be ‘guided’, than with a spoilt and over-paid so-called professional who’s set in her ways and absolutely rubbish with people.
And so it worked out.
A year or more later, I’m on lesson 92 (each lesson is 55 minutes, so approximately 180 of our 30-minute lessons) and my speaking and listening in Swedish has improved TWO WHOLE LEVELS.
Call me a know-all smart-arse, if you will.
But to the email writer above, be assured – yes, the first lesson can be a trauma, but it does get easier.
Moreover, our online teachers have specific instructions to BE NICE TO STUDENTS!
I work hard to get people to give online lessons a try, because I believe it’s useful for you guys, and also because I’m committed to helping young (and not so young) Italians earn a living.
So I’d rather not have a careless teacher mess it up at first contact, as happened to me.
Of course, this is a people business, and people are unpredictable. Just as teachers are not perfect, neither are students.
Perhaps, like the email writer, the client has never used Skype before. It’s not hard, but it does take some getting used to.
Or perhaps the teacher is having a bad day, or is inexperienced.
We do add new people to our team, and they have to start somewhere.
Not every lesson is going to be 100% successful.
Ci vuole pazienza, as Italians say.
But where there’s a will…
Here’s some other feedback I’ve had this week:
I had an amazing on-line lesson yesterday. The teacher was excellent and she sent me a transcript of our conversation, plus the sentences and vocabulary that I was struggling with. She was very encouraging, and gave me some suggestions about how to improve my listening skills. As a friend of mine said “the more you listen, the more you hear”. I will enrol in more lessons now and thank you for the opportunity to sample this on-line lesson.
I booked my free lesson and had it this morning. I have soooooo much to learn before I travel to Italy next year. I will be buying more SKYPE lessons!
I’m trying to get my classmate started with the online lessons as I’ve really benefited from mine. It’s much appreciated. Thank you!
So, after yesterday’s mailing, we probably reached our target of 100 signups, which is what I budgeted for.
Even though the trial lessons are free for the students taking them, the teachers get paid as normal, as does our teaching manager, which is a cost to the Club.
Though not one I begrudge – I’d certainly rather pay a teacher to give you a free lesson than just hand the money direct to Google.
More than a hundred? That’s so cool!
Well done to everyone who’s booked a trial (but now you actually have to DO the lesson, remember?)
So, on the basis that you can never get too much of a good thing…
…I’ve decided to keep taking bookings until Sunday night, as orignally planned, and hang the expense!
It is NOT, therefore, too late to give this a go.
By my reckoning, over 90% of club members are still ‘online lesson virgins’, even though we run two promotions each year.
Is it time, then, to take the next step and get yourself some LIVE speaking practice?
As F.D.R. put it, the only thing you have to fear is fear itself.
These are the ‘Free Trial Online Italian Lesson‘ offer conditions:
- The offer ends on Sunday 18/11/18
- You don’t actually have to TAKE the lesson before then, just book it
- We’ll organise the trial lessons in the order they are booked
- This offer is for new students only
- Once you’ve completed your lesson, you’ll receive a 15% discount coupon, valid for further lessons, if you choose to take them
Have you listened to Thursday’s Easy Italian News bulletin, yet?
This is how we parents go on at our kids…
It’s GOOD for you, I tell them.
FIND the time, I reply.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
E poi, it’s FREE: