Previously, I had decided that 2014 was going to be the year that I really learned French. And for the most part, I have made a lot of progress, but not necessarily in practice. My vocabulary and reading skills definitely improved but not my pronunciation or conversational skills, because I wasn’t taking my own advice. I was learning, but in a bit of a bubble, and I was lacking confidence. It was time to get more one on one instruction with someone whom I could regularly converse with who could help me improve my accent by giving me immediate feedback. But more than that, I needed someone to hold me accountable. It was also time for our young daughters to start gaining some functional conversational skills that moved passed greeting and social pleasantries, and so reinforcements were going to be required if I wanted them to become fluent, (in addition to myself).
I decided it was time to get a tutor. Having a tutor wasn’t something foreign to us; I had an Italian tutor previously. That one was helpful, pricey, and I had to meet them at a mutually decided upon location. This time I wanted someone who would be able to meet us at our home. The kids, all older now, have extra curricular activities in the afternoons, and I did not want to give up a morning from our homeschool for another appointment; even an academically based one.
I did what most people do when they are looking for something…I did a Google search for any tutors advertising in our area. After searching, I decided to use one via WyZant. WyZant allows you, no matter where you live in the USA, to post what type of lessons you are looking for as a student in your area. Those offering those services within the zip code you specify respond to your request via the WyZant format.
I liked using WyZant for the following reasons:
1. It was secure. Prospective tutors respond to your request via Wyzant; they don’t have your personal information/phone number until you give it to them.
2. You can see easily if the tutor has already submitted a background check. If they haven’t yet, you can request one.
3. It allows you to comparison shop based on who answers your post i.e. pricing, location, education & experience and overall personality of their profiles.
4. Your first visit with your tutor comes with a guarantee; if you deem they are not a good fit, you don’t have to pay.
5. Payments are made via an account you set up via WyZant; you don’t pay the tutor directly.
6. You are allowed to see how other people have rated tutors prior to hiring them and, in addition, you are asked to rate your session each time.
There are other ways to find a foreign language tutor besides Wyzant. Other options may include:
1. Asking for personal recommendations. This is ideal because the person will come recommended from someone you already know.
2. Foreign language department of local university/college. the FL departments of local colleges are a great resource. Often times teachers may be accepting private students, or will know a good higher level student to recommend.
3. Newsletters you are affiliated with. Sometimes, when I am looking for something educationally based, I will run a request in our local homeschool or Parish newsletters. Previously, I was able to find tennis lessons for my daughter this way.
I knew I wanted a female tutor and one that was preferably, a native French speaker; (one that could speak other languages would be a bonus). So, after seeing my choices via WyZant, and conversing with several different tutors via email, I picked the one that I felt would be the best fit for both my daughters and myself. Her name is Sylvie. Sylvie is a native French speaker who also speaks Spanish, and while she is as sophisticated as she sounds, she has an easy going demeanor which makes the sessions really fun. She comes to our house two hours a week. She’s been here twice already, and all I can think is, “Why didn’t I do this sooner”?
Remember, as with any other endeavor, safety first: Never give out any personal information until you feel comfortable. Never leave your children alone with a tutor that you do not know well. Always meet your tutor for the first time in a mutually agreed upon public place. Always request a background check.
Are you on your own foreign language journey? What language are you learning?