In the northern hemisphere, today is the last day of summer. So, by extension, tomorrow is the first day of Autumn/Fall, which means long trousers and socks, fewer mosquitoes (‘zanzare’), and sleeping with a cover. Guess that’ll make a change!
Our Italian school in Bologna has been busy, with lots of excited arrivals and departures from across the globe. September and October are peak months, then things calm down from November on, and get busy again from March to June.
Throughout next week I’ll be publicising a COUPON CODE, which – if used – will reduce the price of everything in either/both stores by 20%.
N.b. Existing online students receive the COUPON CODE a few days in advance, so yesterday in fact. If that applies to you, and if you didn’t see the COUPON CODE, check your spam. And if still nothing, write to the teaching mnaagement team, the ones who organised your lessons for you. Or write to the email address in the footer of the lessons store, and they’ll forward it to the teaching management team, who will be happy to sort you out.
Someone wrote, apparently, to ask if NativeSpeakerTeachers.com has a page from which they can select their own teacher, based on age, previous experience, personal interests, physical appearance, and so on.
The answer is ‘Absolutely not!’
Why? Well, if you search the internet for ‘Italian lessons online’ or similar, you’ll likely find two main categories of results. The first, with venture-capital funding and so a large advertising budget (other people’s money…), is basically a software platform, an online market place, a modern version of a medieval market square.
At a ‘platform’ (they’re easy to find if you look), you indeed get to select between this bull and that one, this prize sow or the other. The wares are displayed, there’s likely to be a range of prices, and you’ll totally get to select your teacher based on their apparent competences, their age, how good their bio description is, or whatever characteristic matters to you. You might want to check out their teeth and hooves, just to be on the safe side.
The other category is ‘language schools’, whether ‘real’, online, or both. Our Italian school is there someplace, probably on the fourth or fifth page of Google results, and our separate online school NativeSpeakerTeachers.com, too, but way, way down (not a problem as, when we drive our cattle to market, we let people know through articles like this.)
Language schools operate like other businesses you’ll be familiar with. A restaurant, say. There are permanent and temporary staff, probably a mix of both full and part timers. A customer walks through the door and declares – to no one’s surprise – “I’ll have the steak, medium rare, with a side of fries”, or “I need to learn Italian”, the server/school reception ask questions to be sure they’ve understood the client’s needs (when, why, something to drink with that?) and gets right to providing the service.
Assuming the school is actually able to meet the student’s needs (some people want weird things…) and the price is right, a day/time is agreed and a teacher and classroom (or online space) are assigned. Before the lesson begins, a student may have no idea of who their teacher will be, and probably doesn’t care, beyond perhaps a certain mild curiosity.
That’s because when you take lessons through a ‘school’, your expectation is that they will assign you someone capable of knowing what you require and providing it. It’s not something you need to worry about, because they’ll worry for you. When you order a steak, you don’t need to walk into the kitchen and select the actual steak yourself, or decide which of the perspiring hospitality staff should fry it for you. It’s the same thing.
Sure, not every assigned teacher works out well with every student. It’s a human business, after all. People have likes and dislikes. But if not happy, a student gets to go back to the teaching admin team and say so, at which point it’s the school’s job to put things right. You asked for ‘rare’ and you’re getting ‘well-done’? We’ll fix that for you!
With the ‘platforms’, it’s all down to you, the customer/student. With a ‘school’, you’re paying someone else to take the decision, and the responsibility.
If I wanted to learn, say, Japanese, I’d likely search out the reputable Japanese language schools in whichever Japanese city attracted me most, and sign up for a course or individual lessons (depending on my budget and preferences). I’d book my flight and hotel, but I’d let the school worry about organising my lessons.
Whereas if I wanted to practice my rusty Turkish, and already know that I don’t need and can’t afford a course in Turkey, I’d likely seek out a platform and spend a few weeks or months trying out the cheaper, prettier online ‘teachers’, with a view to getting some interaction and practice.
I’d not have high expectations of platform teachers (unless they priced their lessons high), but I’d be aware that the responsibility for the outcome would be entirely mine, and be OK with that.
A school (including our offline and online versions) is a school, not a beauty contest. A platform is a marketplace, and let the buyer beware! Choose whichever suits you best, now you know the difference.
A good rule of thumb, by the way, is that the lower your level, the more you have to lose wasting time with inexperienced or incompetent teachers (it can be very demotivating, if nothing else).
So in that case, choose a ‘school’. But if you have more language-learning experience and/or a higher level already, and just need native speakers to practice with, then ‘platforms’ offer a saving and choice.
Hope that gives you some insight! Now look out for the 20% COUPON CODE next week, or yesterday for existing students.
Have you listened to Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, yet?
It’s free, as is subscribing to receive each of the three weekly bulletins, directly to your email inbox, immediately they are published on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
How come it’s free?
Because EasyItalianNews.com‘s thrice weekly bulletins (text + audio) are financed by students who value them, through donations.
Every second month they spend a few days reminding students that their financial support is needed to pay the writers and so on.
That’s this week, actually, and I’m doing my bit here… If you’re an EasyItalianNews.com fan, and have been meaning to send them some cash, even a small amount, but haven’t got around to it yet… Well consider yourself reminded!