Monday, August 3, 2009

Lesson Ettiquette - Dos and Don'ts

Hello all, Before I go into this I just want to say that MOST tutors on Cafetalk are very conscientious and professional, and probably don't need any advice of this kind. But based on feedback I've been receiving from many students, I know that some tutors could do with a few tips on how they can make a better impression, so here we go. DO
  • Show up on lessons on time Punctuality is super duper important. Especially in Japanese culture.
  • Add "value" to the lesson Even when doing casual "freetalk" style lessons, a good tutor will try to probe the student's weaknesses, try to slip in new vocabulary and phrases that the student might not know, etc. It's okay to give the impression that you are simply conversing casually but you should always be calculating and thinking about the best way to execute a lesson. Students will definitely feel the difference. Again, add value. It's simply not enough to ch without thinking.
  • Type out key vocabulary and phrases in the chat window. Student's really do appreciate this. But you should try to do it without breaking the natural flow of the conversation when you type.
  • Send a chat message before pressing the "call" button on skype. A simple "Hello, may I call now?" or "Shall we start the lesson?" would be good. Just pressing the call button may seem a little abrupt.
  • Make comments with sexual overtones whatsoever. If you need to be told this, you don't deserve to teach in the first place. Even if you think you've established a very close relationship with a student NEVER, NEVER cross that line. Don't even ask about boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • Complain to your students about your lessons. In fact, it's best to avoid whining of any sort. Your fees may not be as high as you like; you may not be getting many students; your girlfriend may have left you; and you life may be in shambles, but your student probably doesn't want to heart about it. And don't make any negative comments about other tutors on Cafetalk. That's a serious blow below the belt.
  • SPAM your students with unsolicited messages. One message after you haven't heard from a student in a while may be acceptable. But don't go on pestering the student if she doesn't reply.
  • Try to extend a lesson beyond the requested amount of time. You'd be surprised at the number of tutors who try to do this. If you say on your lesson profile that you're offering the lesson for 15 or however many minutes stick to it. Don't try to prolong the lesson and get that extra charge. You'll most definitely lose the student. However, it is acceptable to ask the student whether she would like to schedule another lesson at a later date. But don't be pushy! Let the student think about it if she wants to.
  • Solicit your students to have lessons outside of Cafetalk. I understand the urge to bypass Cafetalk altogether, but please don't give in to this temptation. Besides that it's morally questionable, many students find such solicitations unacceptable and will likely report you to us.
These are just a few things based on what I've heard from students on what they like and don't like. I may be adding more later on but that's it for now. Happy teaching!

Cafetalk Wish List

Hello all, We've recently received a lot of great feedback from tutors both through this blog and through private email. Many of them have been requests for new or improved functionality, so I'm creating this post specifically for such requests. Please post your suggestions through the comments box. Also please understand that we won't be able to implement all of them. Some of them will not be feasible due to technical reasons (too big a change in the current system). Others will have to be postponed simply because we don't have enough people to work on them. And don't be offended if we don't reply to your comments right away. We'll try very hard to answer each one (irrespective of whether we can do it or not) but we may take a week or more to reply. As for the requests that have already been made, I'll try to migrate all of them them to this post in due time. Thanks for your patience!