The curious role of a language teacher.

What is the role of a language teacher? We have caused a little controversy at LingQ by opening up tutoring to all of our members. Some people feel that this will lower the quality of our tutors and make LingQ like Live Mocha. I do not agree. but this reaction is similar to what I hear whenever I talk to people in the education field. What are the credentials of your tutors?

These people have a totally different view of a language teacher than I have. Maybe this question strikes at the heart of the LingQ learning philosophy. To me a tutor or teacher is simply one of the many resources available to a language learner. A tutor or teacher is not necessary but can be both useful and influential. The personal relationship between the learner and the tutor can be very important. For some people, like me, it is a delight to have a variety of tutors to talk to. It is all up to the learner to decide. Learning does not begin with the teacher, but with the learner.

I am going off to take a tennis lesson in 30 minutes. I go to a tennis coach because the coach has skills that ordinary people do not have. But every educated native speaker of a language is equally skilled in that language, more or less, or at least skilled enough to tutor. Thus any native speaker of , say Russian which I am learning, who shares interests in common with me, and whom I like, can be an ideal tutor. A math teacher, or music teacher, or sports trainer have specialized skills that are not found in the general population. A language teacher is different There the role is to listen, encourage,inspire and sympathize. Credentials have little to with those abilities.

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