Earlier this week, I wrote a post about my search for an online tutor. I still have another Skype trial scheduled for this Sunday, but I decided to give the in-person tutor search another try. I had been avoiding a local language school since my first ever tutor, who wasn’t a trained professional, had worked there as one of her side-jobs. To be honest, I didn’t care to run into her or anyone who taught like her, especially if I was going to be paying more than I did back then. I decided it couldn’t hurt to put in an inquiry and I immediately got a call back asking me to come in for a free language evaluation to see if I could be placed. Because of my awkward in-between level, this had been a problem on Skype, so I was eager to see how they would place me.I went in the next day and was surprised to find such a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The waiting area resembled a family basement due to the furniture and decor. The tutor who was conducting the evaluation ran in just in time and took me into one of the classrooms to begin.
The evaluation consisted of a short introduction and some small talk about my interest in the language. Rather than letting me do all the talking, the teacher made sure to ask a lot of questions so that he could gauge my listening comprehension, which honestly made it easier for me since I understand more than I can speak (lol). Anything I didn’t catch, I asked about in Japanese using the skills I learned from my last tutor. He also tested my reading by finding a random Genki passage. Little did he know, my last tutor completely bashed my slow reading skills and had me drill most of the Genki I chapter dialogues for weeks. I was golden. The final exercise consisted of writing my name on the board. I have only written my last name in Katakana a couple of times before and didn’t know how to interpret a certain sound. I told the teacher my Katakana was definitely weaker than hiragana, and he understood and helped me write out the rest. And… that was it. Only took 15 minutes.
Since my last teacher made me feel pretty bad about my language progression, I was expecting to be rounded down to beginner, but this teacher seemed honestly impressed. He told me that while I wasn’t as far along in the Genki textbook as his other non-beginner student, I was a far better reader and speaker. He told me my grammar comprehension was really good as well. I was rounded up to Intermediate (!!!) and was told I was better off taking private lessons as there was no one at their school within my level at that moment. Of course, they could have been flattering me to take more of my money, but they seemed genuine.
While I don’t actually believe I’m at an intermediate level and consider myself an upper beginner, it was nice knowing that all the hard work I had put in with my last tutor had definitely paid off. I would have NEVER been praised for my conversational skills in the past, believe me. Speaking has become a lot easier after being challenged the way I had and my reading has sped up after drilling almost daily. It felt good knowing it had nothing to do with a natural ability, it was my actual hard work that had gotten me to where I was. I wanted to bask in the praise for as long as I could, although of course I just smiled awkwardly and waited for the chance to escape. But I am immortalizing it here so I can come back and read it whenever I hit the next language plateau!
I’m still deciding whether I am going to take lessons with them or not. It would be a lot more expensive than Skype, but I might give it a try. Of course, I’ll be updating here with my decision!