Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it means you’ve taken the brave and right step towards getting better in your target language! Signing up for private lessons is a great way to reach your goals fast and do it in a way that’s most flexible to your needs. Now that your first lesson with your new teacher is arriving, here are some good pointers on how to get the most out of your time.
Knowing What You Want
The great thing about getting a private teacher is that you can spend the lesson on exactly what you need – speaking practice, better grammar or sounding more professional in emails – everything depends on you.
This is why, before your lesson, it might be a great idea to think a little bit about what you want to get out of it and make a list of your priorities. Not only will this help you yourself get a clear picture of what you want to focus on, but this way, you can also get your teacher to prepare a lesson that’s specific to your needs.
You can simply prepare a few pointers, like: “I want to sound more like a native speaker”, or “I don’t care that much about talking, but I want my writing to improve” to making a more precise road map to what you want to focus on (this is more relevant to advanced students). The clearer your own objectives are, the better your teacher can help you achieve them.
Determining Your Starting Level
It is, of course, hard to start thinking of a language learning road map if you are just starting out in learning. In this case, the first step would be to simply determine your starting level. This, too, will help your teacher make the lesson the most beneficial to you. It is no good to start teaching advanced medical vocabulary to someone who is just getting started with their ABCs.
Getting a clear picture of how proficient you are is especially important if you have taken lessons in your target language before. Without practice, languages tend to erode rather quickly and even if you have been on an advanced level previously, it might be a good idea to see how much of that has stuck.
You can find language proficiency tests on the Internet (for example, here) , or simply go by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERF) standard to self-determine your level according to the A1-C2 scale.
Coordinating with Your Teacher
Your teacher is the most efficient tool you have in your quest to language proficiency, so it’s definitely a great idea to coordinate your efforts with them. You’re going to have to settle upon a lesson time and place anyway, but your coordination should run much deeper than that.
You can give your teacher all the information we have discussed here already, and also find out if there are any study materials you need to bring to the lesson yourself. Since each teacher creates their own lesson plan and uses different resources, it’s important to know if you need to get a hold of any particular text- or exercise book beforehand. If you already have a particular set of language learning materials at home, you can ask your teacher to base your lessons on these. But it’s important you and your teacher are on the same page on what you are using in your lessons.
Getting a Running Start
Before your first lesson, it might also be a good idea to brush up on your language skills on your own. This goes especially for the students who have already had lessons in their target language but have fallen behind on practice. But even if you are just starting out with a new language, it might still be a good idea to get familiar with it by yourself at first. For inspiration, you can see the posts we have written about great online resources for learning English, German, and Spanish.
If you have already had experience with the language you’re now getting lessons for, you can get into the flow by reading or listening to podcasts in your target language. This will help to make sure you can focus on getting new knowledge in your lesson, instead of going through old material that you actually already know but have forgotten.
We hope this short guide will help you feel more confident and comfortable going into your first language lesson. Just remember that you’ve taken the most important – first – step already. Now it’s just a question of sticking to your decision and enjoying the process.