It’s been about 2 weeks since I stopped seeing my Japanese tutor now that I can’t afford her. It was a very productive 3 months and I’ve learned more about my learning style and habits than I ever have before! In the last 2 weeks, I vowed to take what I learned and apply it by hitting the books… and ended up doing a whole lot of nothing. I did a lot of passive learning, like reading texts aloud and watching dramas, which is ok but not the most effective for me. I lost the motivation for active learning once the pressure was off.
As someone who went through 4 tutors to date, you’d think I’d have this down by now. I even wrote a post with tips and criteria, but it’s more difficult to find a perfect fit now that I’m limited to online tutors due to price, and I’m also at an in-between level. I don’t want this post to sound like an iTalki endorsement (lately their marketing has been especially pervasive), but I really am grateful for the option to test out several tutors for a low trial price with no pressure to book another lesson. I’ve already tried one out and have another scheduled for next week, but I find myself truly preferring face-to-face lessons. However, I don’t really have a choice with my budget.
I have a new set of criteria for my online tutor search, and some of these may or may not be feasible, but I will continue the search.
- Availability – This still stands from my previous search, and with online tutors is the easiest criteria to satisfy. From what I’ve seen, they all have either evenings or weekends available to fit my schedule
- Price – I’m looking to pay anywhere from $20-$30 an hour for a skilled/experienced tutor, which doesn’t seem hard to find.
- Adaptability – Now this is where it gets tricky. From what I’ve noticed so far, tutors are either equipped to work with beginners or intermediate/advanced students. As someone who tutors English as a Second Language, I get it. It can be tough working with someone who has a foundation, but not solid enough to make full conversations with. I want someone who can work through my textbooks with me and help me practice those grammar points in conversation. My first tutor was not acquainted with my book. The next appointment I made was with someone living in a Western country, so hopefully they will be able to work with my current textbooks. I also want to learn some survival Japanese for my trip next year, but do not want it to be the sole focus.
- Challenge – This is most important to me. So far I’ve noted that I have the tendency to not engage with online tutors, and the ones I’ve had so far didn’t really push it. My in-person tutor TOTALLY put me on the spot. I realize I need a little bit of tough love. Encouragement is great, and I appreciate it, but I really need pressure. I need someone who forces me to speak and will expect me to put in study time on my own. No pain, no gain? I will say that while my tutor pushed my limits, she was very direct and not always the most tactful. I can do without some of the shaming.
Now that I’ve typed up my criteria, it doesn’t seem as extensive as I thought, although I don’t have high hopes of finding exactly what I need at my price point. However, I will continue to search for someone who at least meets most of my needs and will keep pushing with my self-study time.
What criteria do you look for in a tutor?