With the rise of online teacher matching websites, more and more people are deciding to avoid the high sign up fees and lesson costs associated with English conversation schools. But what exactly should you look for when hiring a freelance teacher yourself? Here we outline our 5 tips.
1. English Teaching Experience
This should be fairly obvious, but the biggest indicator of a teacher’s ability to teach you well is how long they have been teaching! Over the years, teachers develop many techniques for explaining new bits of grammar and vocabulary which are the results trying different approaches and seeing what works well. In general, am English teacher who has been teaching for over one year in Japan will be more likely to have learned some of these techniques – they are, however, more likely to have a busy schedule!
2. English Teaching Qualifications
There are many English teaching qualifications with varying levels of difficulty to attain. As a rule, someone who has taken the time to get a teaching qualification before coming to Japan is likely to be a more professional teacher than someone who has not (although there are surely exceptions to this rule!). Teachers who has a masters degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language are very well qualified to teach grammar, but if your goal is to just practice conversation then this might not be necessary.
3. Native Language
As English is spoken so widely across the world, there are many people who can speak it very well despite the fact that it is not their native language. There are people who prefer to learn with a native speaker because this means that they get exposed to native speed and expressions without the influence of a foreign accent. However, it is also important to consider the differences in native English accents – a teacher from New York will likely sound quite different to one from Australia! Consider your objectives when making this choice.
4. Japanese Ability
This one really depends on your learning style. There are many people who prefer to learn with an English teacher who does not know Japanese because it forces you to conduct every conversation in English, meaning that you become better at resolving misunderstandings, and communicating with what knowledge you have, faster.
On the other hand, learning from a teacher with no Japanese ability can mean that it is difficult to get an answer to a specific question you may have about grammar or nuances of certain words. A teacher who understands Japanese will generally be able to answer specific questions better than a teacher with no Japanese knowledge. Therefore, teachers who only speak English may be better for beginners and lower intermediate learners, and teachers with Japanese ability can be better for upper intermediate or advanced students. In any case, it is better to decide which style you prefer before hiring the teacher.
5. Intended Stay in Japan
Building a relationship with a teacher is important for your English conversation development because they will get to know your strengths and weaknesses and steer you in the right direction. It is the case that many teachers come to teach in Japan for a year or so, and it can be frustrating when a teachers leaves for their home country shortly after beginning lessons together. It is worth checking how long the teacher will be around for before committing to lessons.