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PerpetualChange

How to make the best use of an online tutor (Open Discussion)

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PerpetualChange

I study with an online tutor once per week, but I am having a tough time making good use of the time. I'm fairly advanced, having studied formally for two years and on my own (at varying degrees of efficiency) for several more. My tutor has a nice personality, is reliable, and at least right now, tutoring sessions are fairly open ended.

 

Generally, it goes like this: 

We talk for a few minutes, she'll give me some things to read that are more or less at my level, and we look at homework I did throughout the week (usually writing sentences based on vocab readings) and correct them together. Sometimes we'll spend a month or so on a long reading, other times we'll finish readings in a week or so. 

 

Anyway there seems to be no particular direction or system to the readings we go over, to the point where I've started to wonder if I should find a way to implement some kind of curriculum, maybe like downloading a PDF of an advanced textbook and sending it to her. I'm starting to wonder if the tutor who doesn't seem to have much of a system or curriculum, is really all that valuable, for $20 an hour, when I could just spend that money (far less, actually) on something like Chinese Pod and then do language exchange with people on WeChat for free.

 

Ultimately, my tutor isn't enough, and I spend the majority of my study time each week doing things extra from whatever my tutor is currently having me do. Perhaps this is the right way to go about it, but I'd still like to make the best use of a tutor if I'm going to keep spending the money every week. 

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889

I believe there was a long thread here on just this issue two or three months ago.

 

No need to repeat myself at length, but my basic message then was that you have to take charge and prepare scenarios beforehand.

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PerpetualChange

I may have missed it. Anyone have the link?

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PerpetualChange
24 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

Do you want to focus on speaking and listening, or reading and writing, or all four skills?

First off, thanks for this post overall. It is an excellent.

 

It seems I have gotten quite good at listening, speaking, and reading on a number of topics, but my ability to articulate myself is pretty dire. I can string a few sentences together on something, but I can't get deep, and I've almost never tried to say anything in Chinese that would take more than a few sentences to express, despite studying years. Doing a presentation would be a great idea. 

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NinjaTurtle
8 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

I can string a few sentences together on something, but I can't get deep, and I've almost never tried to say anything in Chinese that would take more than a few sentences to express, despite studying years. Doing a presentation would be a great idea. 

 

The great thing is, this is something you and your teacher can do together! Spend several hours together on one topic if you have to. Write it all out if that helps. Or have your teacher type it up during your lesson and email it to you. (Your Chinese teacher can probably type Chinese 100 times faster than you can, and with great ease. Another idea is have your teacher type out the characters, then you get it rendered into Pinyin later -- there is a way to do this quickly and easily.)

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NinjaTurtle
On 10/3/2019 at 8:12 AM, PerpetualChange said:

I'd still like to make the best use of a tutor...

 

There is one thing I need to reemphasize. In the Chinese way of giving instruction, it is usually a case of the teacher talking and the student listening. Very much a lecture-only situation. Even when giving private lessons. One time I was sitting in Starbucks and I watched a Chinese person give another Chinese person an English lesson. For me, personally, it was painful to watch. All of my students in my classes in China speak English in every class — I have actually gotten into trouble for doing this! Make it very clear to your teacher that this is not how your lessons are going to be run, that you are going to talk at least half of the time. (When the teacher starts talking too much, just say Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! to let them know to stop.)

 

~~~

 

Here is a small portion of lists that I use. The vocabulary list is for Listening to Music and the question list is for Playing Sports. Please let this inspire you into creating similar lists.

 

Vocabulary: Listening to Music:

 

like                喜欢            xǐ huān
music                音乐            yīn yuè
I like music.            我喜欢音乐。        Wǒ xǐhuān yīnyuè.
listen to music            听音乐            tīng yīn yuè
like to listen to music        喜欢听音乐        xǐhuān tīng yīnyuè
what kind of            什么样的        shén me yàng de
what kind of music        什么样的音乐        shén me yàng de yīn yuè
What kind of music do you listen to?   你听什么样的音乐?    Nǐ tīng shénme yàng de yīnyuè?
pop music            流行音乐          liú xíng yīn yuè    
rock                摇滚乐          yáo gǔn yuè
rock music            摇滚乐          yáo gǔn yuè
light rock            轻摇滚           qīng yáo gǔn
hard rock            硬石            yìng shí        
punk rock            朋克摇滚            péng kè yáo gǔn
country music            乡村音乐          xiāng cūn yīn yuè
classical music            古典音乐          gǔ diǎn yīn yuè
traditional music            传统音乐          chuán tǒng
Hawaiian music            夏威夷音乐          Xià wēi yí

 

Questions and answers: Sports

 

[x] Do you like sports?         你喜欢运动吗?        Nǐ xǐhuan yùndòng ma?
Do you mean play sports or watch sports?        你意思是做运动或是观看运动项目?
Nǐ yìsi shì zuò yùndòng huò shì guānkàn yùndòng xiàngmù?
I mean play sports. Do you like to play sports?    我意思是做运动。你喜欢做运动吗?
        Wǒ yìsi shì zuò yùndòng. Nǐ xǐhuān zuò yùndòng ma?
Yes, I do.             是的,我喜欢做运动。    Shì de, wǒ xǐhuān zuò yùndòng.
I’m too old to play sports.         我太老了,不能体育运动。  Wǒ tài lǎo le, bùnéng tǐyù yùndòng.    
I have a physical limitation.    我是生理缺陷。        Wǒ shì shēnglǐ quēxiàn.
I like to go jogging.         我喜欢慢跑。        Wǒ xǐhuān mànpǎo.
I go running.            我跑步。        Wǒ pǎobù.
Who do you go running with?    你和谁一起跑步?    Nǐ hé shéi yīqǐ pǎobù?
I go running by myself.         我独自跑步。         Wǒ dúzì pǎobù.
Do you go running when you have a cold?   你感冒的时候跑步吗?   Nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu pǎobù ma?
No, I don’t.         不,我你感冒的时候不跑步。     Bù, wǒ nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu bù pǎobù.
不,我你感冒的时候没有跑步。    Bù, wǒ nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu méiyǒu pǎobù.
Why not?        为什么不?            Wèi shéme bù?
(Why don’t you go running when you have a cold?)        为什么你感冒的时候不跑步?
Wèishéme nǐ gǎnmào de shíhòu bù pǎobù?
You shouldn’t exercise when you are sick.            你不应该在生病的时候锻炼。
Nǐ bù yìnggāi zài shēngbìng de shíhòu duànliàn.
Because you shouldn’t exercise when you are sick.    因为你不应该在生病的时候锻炼。        
Yīnwèi nǐ bù yìnggāi zài shēngbìng de shíhòu duànliàn.

 

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abcdefg
4 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

There is one thing I need to reemphasize. In the Chinese way of giving instruction, it is usually a case of the teacher talking and the student listening. Very much a lecture-only situation. Even when giving private lessons.

 

Well said! Agree completely! This is so very important to understand. Absolutely essential to getting the most from your lessons. 

 

Teachers here are products of their own educational system and the process is ingrained. If you don't speak up early, politely but firmly, you will wind up on a one-way street in which the teacher delivers content and you passively receive it. You must make your position clear again and again. Once is never enough. 

 

It should go without saying that this is not only an issue with on-line instruction. It is an issue in face-to-face instruction as well. Some degree of respectful assertiveness is required for a successful learning interaction. 

 

Quote

I study with an online tutor once per week, but I am having a tough time making good use of the time. 

 

For the original poster: @PerpetualChange -- I don't think one hour once a week is enough to do much good. This is probably just wasting money. I would suggest an hour twice a week as a minimum. (Not everyone will agree.) 

 

Doing a presentation sounds like an excellent method to allow you to "dig deeper" into topics that are of interest to you.

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PerpetualChange
10 hours ago, abcdefg said:

For the original poster: @PerpetualChange -- I don't think one hour once a week is enough to do much good. This is probably just wasting money. I would suggest an hour twice a week as a minimum. (Not everyone will agree.) 

 

I'm not sure I have time for much more. In addition to the tutor, I typically do 2 hours of language exchange elsewhere in the week, and a dinner meetup. I do plenty of studying in the interim between all this but something would have to give for me to make more use of tutoring time.

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889

"In the Chinese way of giving instruction, it is usually a case of the teacher talking and the student listening. Very much a lecture-only situation. Even when giving private lessons."

 

I agree, too. This is why when picking a tutor or language partner you might want to pass by those with years of teaching experience, illogical as it may seem.

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suMMit

I tried so many teachers before i found one i feel is effective. I now have one who knows exactly how to get me to talk,  using what we're learning. She is always asking me questions rather than “telling me” things, so I need to focus and listen closely as well as speaking. She corrects me just the right amount on pron/grammar/vocab. Not so much that it kills my confidence, but she consistently corrects me.

 

I asked her once how long shes been teaching, she said several years. Ive only come across a couple other good teachers so far. This one is a diamond in the rough, and I wont let her go.

 

I was also given the advice by an advanced Chinese learner that 3 hours a week is pretty much the minimum to get any real value.

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jannesan

I have studied the HSK2,3,4 Standard Course books with the same teacher, reading dialogues together and me reading the texts.

Before we continue with the next texts at the beginning of the class I would read out my homework (the grammar/vocabulary exercises).

Any questions I have about vocabulary while reading the text I would ask right away and questions about the homework I would ask in the beginning.

What I really liked is her focus on my tones and generally focus on very correct grammar. I believe you need a teacher like that especially in the earlier phases.

I am now doing the HSK5 Standard Course book in the same way.

 

After finishing HSK4 I switched focus to free talking and had lessons with various teachers, switching around 3 regular teachers.

It is helpful to go in with a few topics on your mind, but I think the better teachers bring up fitting topics themselves.

So I now settled with basically one main teacher for free talk and we always discuss what I have been up to during the week and the naturally shift to some other topics.

What I find important is to be corrected after I say things wrong and go through a few examples on how to better use a word, structure or expression.

From the 10 teachers I studied with, only 2 really did this, so I think you should try out various teachers before settling on one, especially if you are after free talking lessons.

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NinjaTurtle
2 hours ago, jannesan said:

What I find important is to be corrected after I say things wrong and go through a few examples on how to better use a word, structure or expression.

 

I agree that this is important. When I am teaching a private lesson, I have my student give a short speech (which I have explained above) that they have already prepared for. During the speech and subsequent questions-and-answers, I do not correct anything, but I take notes. It is only after the speech and questions-and-answers that I start looking at my notes and point out and correct mistakes. Unfortunately, pointing out and correcting mistakes can take a long time and can also be very embarrassing for the student, so sometimes I don't get through all of their mistakes.

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PerpetualChange
On 10/5/2019 at 12:05 PM, suMMit said:

I was also given the advice by an advanced Chinese learner that 3 hours a week is pretty much the minimum to get any real value.

3 hours with the same tutor, or three hours in general? I study closer to 10-12 hours per week, and easily spend 2-3 hours working on my "homework" for my tutor, in additional to just plain old independent study. 

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suMMit

@PerpetualChange He meant 3 hours face to face with a teacher. That assumes other independent study,review. Obviously theres no magic number, but gis point was with 3 spaced out lessons, youve alwaya got one a day or two away to keep you focused.

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PerpetualChange
On 10/3/2019 at 9:47 AM, 889 said:

No need to repeat myself at length, but my basic message then was that you have to take charge and prepare scenarios beforehand.

 

I actually did this, throughout the week wrote down everything I'd encountered in my week of Chinese study/TV watching/language exchanges that I couldn't wrap my head around, sent it to her in a word doc, and we spent about 30 minutes going over it all this week. It was FANTASTIC, best and most helpful tutoring session I've had yet. And I do think worth the time, even if it's only once per week. 

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NinjaTurtle
1 hour ago, PerpetualChange said:

I actually did this, throughout the week wrote down everything...

 

PC,

 

I want to tell you about the best private-lesson student I ever had. This guy was not the smartest student I ever had, but he knew how to study. He even taught me how to study.

 

He was my student at a school that specialized in private lessons. This was at a school that had its own textbook, and that textbook was used for all lessons. (It was not a situation where the student controlled the curriculum or could bring in their own materials.)

 

The first thing was that he recorded all of his lessons (which got me recording my lessons I was taking as a language student too). Most students at that school would try to take notes during lessons. This caused a lot of wasted time, as I would say something, but then I would have to stop and wait as the student wrote it down. (I learned a long time ago to stop talking whenever a student is writing something down.) I have given lessons where 30% to 40% of the lessons are wasted in this way. My best-ever student never made this mistake, instead he concentrated on understanding, and relied on his recordings to write everything down later.

 

And write he did. He would bring in his notebook every class and I could see how he had written down everything in detail from our previous lesson. Very impressive. He also had detailed notes in the margins, which again were very impressive.

 

Another big thing about this student was that he had everything down cold from the previous lesson Most students forget a lot from the previous lesson. As a result, it is common in this kind of teaching to waste a lot of time reviewing the previous lesson, going over what they had forgot (or never learned in the first place) which can be up to 40% of the next lesson's time. Not this guy. Another important thing. He would take a lesson, but he would not take another lesson until he had completely mastered everything in the previous lesson. Very smart. Biggest bang for the buck. Of course this guy progressed a lot faster than the average student. I started using his method for my own language study, and it made a big difference for me too.

 

I like your idea of sending a word doc ahead of time. Great idea.

 

 

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Flickserve

I record my online lessons though I don’t go through everything. I could spend more than two hours reviewing one hour of audio. With technology, I can send isolate a sentence and send back a sentence to the teacher to type out or correct my transcription.  
 

I used to have a mini tape recorder for my one to one lessons in Cantonese before the advent of digital. Would review the class on sundays with the books that we had used. With the immersion, it worked out pretty well.

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NinjaTurtle
10 hours ago, Flickserve said:

With technology, I can send isolate a sentence

 

Flickserve,

 

I am curious. Can you use your software to do a word search, which then takes you right to that word in your sound file?

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Flickserve
6 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

 

I am curious. Can you use your software to do a word search, which then takes you right to that word in your sound file


 

unfortunately not that sophisticated!  That would be an awesome thing.
 

The closest workaround I can think of is to get all the Audio sentences in the lesson with their text equivalents. Then, input all these sentences (audio+text) into anki. This will be your main deck and serves as a big pool of Notes from various sources. You can then use anki to search the word across all your Notes. Then, you can identify all sentences where that word has occurred in any of your lessons. 
 

Copy these Notes (or the cards depending on your preference) out into a new sub-deck. This is the deck that you use to train, not your master deck. Each card has the audio so when you are testing yourself on your sub-deck, you also get to hear your teacher saying the sentence. IMO, this is essential for tone training.
 

A bit off topic, but if you have created a Master deck, this is not the deck that you want to test yourself on. It’s the sub-deck that you test yourself on. So, unlike some who suggest completely wiping out a deck when struggling, I suggest not to do this with the Master deck as it has taken lots of lesson time and extra effort to prepare. However, one can delete sub-decks at will and create new sub decks depending on which words you want to review.  

 

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