I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work

I’d like to say that I value choice. Everyone needs different things and I think it’s good when we know what we want. As a business owner, I know what I want, and what I don’t want. I don’t want to work at the weekend. I don’t work with young children. I have done a few Facebook lives and presentations, but I generally don’t produce video content, because I enjoy creating blogs and podcasts more.

I got the idea for this post because of a conversation I had with someone who wanted to learn English. She said “thank you, but I tried online lessons with another teacher and it didn’t work.”

If someone says “I’m not looking for online lessons,” I usually say ok and wish them well with their search for a teacher. But somehow I couldn’t let this one go without writing something to the effect that I was sorry this lady had a bad experience with someone who couldn’t help her, but online teachers work with a range of methods and are not all the same. Then I wished her success with her English learning and left it. I didn’t expect to hear from her again and I didn’t expect her to change her mind, but the increasing number of adverts that say “no online” or “no Skype” make me wonder what’s going on to give people such bad experiences. I have seen some adverts from online teachers – some of them are great, others are not so good, with mistakes on every line, which doesn’t fill me with confidence in terms of the quality. But isn’t that the same with face-to-face teachers? There are good and bad ones everywhere!

As I wrote in my can I really learn English online article, there are a number of reasons why online learning is not right for everybody, such as a bad connection, no quiet place to work, or just the need to meet with a teacher face-to-face. But somehow the email made me think the problem may have been with the teacher, in which case it’s not really fair to think that all online teachers are the same.

I want to broaden this out a bit, because I don’t want this post just to be about online vs. face-to-face teaching.

One of my former students told me that he’d previously worked with a teacher from the UK, but it hadn’t worked out because the teacher was using the lessons to try to persuade the student to change his religion. I think this is completely unacceptable. I’m glad the student didn’t assume all teachers from the UK were like that!

I had a very bad experience with an online training company in the UK, but I know other people who speak highly of them (I think here the issue is that some departments are better than others, so it really depends on which course you choose).

This doesn’t just have to apply to course providers. I think it can apply to the methods and resources we use for language learning too.

I know that I don’t enjoy learning through tv programmes, so I generally don’t do it. It’s good to know what works for you. I know I prefer online to face-to-face networking, and that’s what I tend to do most.

I also know that there are some Youtube channels that I can’t watch because the way in which the person presents their ideas drives me crazy, even if the message is good. But that doesn’t mean I don’t consume any learning material on Youtube.

I’ve had some strange people contacting me on language exchange sites, but that doesn’t mean that the idea of language exchanges doesn’t work – it was just those individuals that were the problem.

I didn’t enjoy a book that a few of my friends were raving about, but it doesn’t mean I’ll never listen to them again!

What I’m trying to say is that it’s good to work out what does and does not work for you, because we all have different preferences and learning styles. Just don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, an English idiom that means you shouldn’t lose or dismiss something that could be valuable or of use because you’re getting rid of or dismissing something you don’t want. So before you dismiss an idea, training method, or way of learning, make sure it really doesn’t work for you and that you didn’t just have one bad experience.

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Kirsty working with students



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