Is it worth it?
How often do we see a cheaper price, go for it and ... end up regretting it?
Some people seem naturally good at holding an interesting conversation and making everyone feel comfortable; time flies and when it is over you are taken by surprise, you feel disappointed that it is over; and you are left wanting to talk some more. You might not be able to pinpoint what it is - "we didn't really talk about anything specific" or "we just talked about today's news." But, the truth is, it takes a lot of training to become good at delivering quality conversation-based classes - it is more than small talk with a native speaker.
Sometimes it is a real lesson, intense and productive. You are wired up: "I want to do this! I want to keep going!" Instead of getting tired, you seem to have more energy. You want to go back for more, and you feel that you are learning.
You find yourself telling people about it - your friend, your wife or husband, your sister in law: "It felt like we were just having a pleasant conversation, but about 15 minutes before the time was up, my teacher said: before we wrap it up, let's take a look at what we've done here today:
We've practiced the Present Perfect: I asked you: "Have you ever eaten raw fish?" and we started to discuss healthy food and how yummy it can be; we introduced new vocabulary about food, cuisine and ingredients.
Then we reviewed interrogative structures: I told you: "pretend to be interrogating me to find out if I had committed the crime you were investigating." We used a bunch of new words and expressions and I introduced the use of hypothetical past conditionals. You did pretty well, considering it was your first time."
I said: "Let's take a quick look at these notes I made while we talked:
- dangerous: please, listen and pronounce this word: dangerous, making the a sound like the name of the vowel a, to rhyme with take, make, pain. That's what we call a long a."
- What would you have done different? Answer this question starting with: I would have ... Please make a note of this structure. Assignment for next day: Practice pretend conversation using that question and answer in a context imagined by you.
- Listen and pronounce this sentence linking the words like so: I like it should be pronounced I-li-kit, to make sure you pronounce that -k ending, or else you won't be understood. Practice it until it comes out smooth and natural."
There's a lot of work behind a real conversation-based class, and it is entirely different than just flapping your mouth and letting the student pick up what she might and say what she can - feeling frustrated because she's not making much progress and keeps repeating the same mistakes.
Whenever you see a good professional at work it seems so easy, words roll out smoothly and you are completely engaged, involved in the conversation and learning, clinging to your teachers words, advice, explanations, even if you are not aware of the structure or techniques she is using, you are learning, enjoying yourself and are eager to keep going because you are now more excited about your English lessons and you want to come back for more because it is worth every penny you are paying - and then some. That, right there, is a good professional.
Choose well, be happy to pay for it if you can afford it, and enjoy it.
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