Many learners will leave the decisions about what they study, and when they study it, to their teacher, or to the writer who prepared the course they are following. As you will read below, this could be a big mistake!
The Fifth Secret of Learning Italian
“50% of language teachers are below average. 50% of language schools too.”
At the time of writing I run one of the many, many language schools in Bologna, Italy. There are six or seven schools teaching Italian to foreigners. Of these, just two are members of ASILS, which is the association for schools specialising in teaching the Italian language.
What does such recognition mean? Recognised schools adhere to “minimum” standards of quality, their teachers have some sort of contract, there will be facilities and guarantees for the clients. Yet many schools in the market choose not to meet these minimum standards.
Moral: choose your language school well, it’s all too easy to end up in an unregulated institution where quality will be left to the individual teacher.
TEACHERS ARE LIKE COPS AND DENTISTS
There are good cops and bad cops, lazy cops and hard-working cops, some who are just starting out and therefore lack the wisdom which comes from years on the job, others who are marking time before their pension. Anyone who watches American movies or reads detective fiction knows this is true!
So why should the same not also apply to other professions, such as language teachers? Many of us are mediocre, unimaginative, lazy, de-motivated, or just busy thinking about something much more interesting than you and your grammar problems.
Does it matter? Well yes! You’re paying good money for your course. You don’t want to be fobbed off with a time-server or an incompetent! You deserve a “proper” teacher, a professional, someone who will teach you the way you need to be taught to bring out the best in you.
These people exist, and guess where you’re going to find them? That’s right, in the pricier schools, which pay reasonable salaries and offer stabilty and longer-term prospects. The schools who don’t try to fool you with magic methods, but sell the services of experienced staff, in a nice environment, with good materials and facilities.
So do yourself a favour! You wouldn’t choose the cheapest dentist in town. Why go for the cheapest language school?
Secret no. 5, in a few words: LET THE BUYER BEWARE!
Read more: Secret no. 6