Take personal responsibility for your learning.

The only person who can actually learn anything is you. Your tutor can provide guidance, learning materials, practice and feedback but she can’t do the learning for you.

Remember that language lessons are just one of many things you can do.

For great results you must self-study. Discuss the resources you use with your teacher and see what she thinks.

Learning means, among other things, always doing your homework.

It’s important not only as a way of consolidating what you did in class but also as an essential stepping stone to the next lesson which more often than not will depend on your doing your homework.

It’s just as important to revise everything you did in class.

Studies have shown (and you’ll know this from your own experience) that we need to interact with new information quite a few times and ideally in different circumstances before it’s secured in our long-term memory.

So go over the list of new words from your latest class and pick ten to add to your active vocabulary. Use whatever technique suits you best to memorize them – flash cards, a vocabulary notebook, Post-It notes. And most importantly, make an effort to use any word you want to retain in conversation with your teacher as well as outside class.

Make sure you have at least one lesson a week.

If you can afford two or three and your tutor has the availability, so much the better. Their duration will depend on your learning goals as well as the amount of effort and money you’re prepared to invest and needs to be discussed with your teacher.

Treat your teacher with respect.

Never forget that your teacher is a human just like you. And just like you will have to adapt to her teaching style, so she will need time to get to know you, your learning style, motivations and goals.

Be patient.

The Internet does the great job of connecting language teachers and learners all over the world. Sadly, it also fosters consumerist behaviour which leads to teachers being seen as a virtually unlimited selection of goods and treated accordingly.

If the first couple of lessons with a new teacher don’t meet your expectations, don’t rush to look for a ‘better’ one. Bear in mind that a teacher-student relationship is a two-way street – the harder you work, the harder your teacher does and the more productive your partnership becomes.

If you don’t like a teacher, it may be because she reflects something in your personality or learning that you haven’t yet made peace with.

This is a pretty much universal truth that doesn’t apply exclusively to student-teacher relationships. Other people are often sent our way to act as mirrors in which we can see those aspects of ourselves that we’re unaware of or dislike. Rather than turn away ask yourself, ‘What is it that this person makes me feel uncomfortable with and why?’

Don’t be afraid to express your dissatisfaction but do so with tact (e.g. don’t make comparisons with any other teachers) and in a face-to-face conversation rather than via email. It’ll probably feel quite uncomfortable for both of you but, provided your complaints are reasonable, a good teacher will be grateful for your voicing them and will try to improve things.

Let your teacher know you enjoy her classes and appreciate them.

We all need encouragement to succeed in what we’re doing. It can take many forms – a friendly smile, a thank-you, a positive comment on something we’ve done well. When it comes to learning, asking questions can also be added to this list. The questions you ask your teacher show that you’re actively involved in the process, genuinely interested and keen to know more. Teachers love curious students!

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