Generally speaking, I do not seek out a tutor from day one.
However, given how different
Turkish is, I thought it would be a good idea to have 1h a week with a tutor in addition to my regular autodidact routine.
Thankfully, I found a wonderful
tutor. However, I had two rather strange encounters before that.
First one was on the messaging stage. I made a shortlist of 4-5 tutors with good reviews in my price range that were claiming to specialize in teaching beginners, and I wrote them a quick intro. Not a novella, mind you. A really short introduction with a basic open-ended question.
You be the judge:
Hi [their name]! I'm looking for a serious tutor who can provide structured guidance - beginner level. I would be starting from zero, but plan to study independently in addition to class time.
Can you explain your process and method for working with new students (beginner level) in some detail?
I hope you don't mind the question, I'm just looking for a good fit, and do not want to waste your time on an unnecessary trial lesson.
I should add, this platform does not pay teachers for trial lessons, they only get paid if you continue on, hence that bit about determining fit ahead of time.
Anyway this is the response I got:
You can't take lessons for a low price and get great services. find another teacher
Huh? First of all, kinda strange for a tutor to openly admit they are NOT offering a "great service" ... but okay. Also, it's not like I was lowballing them or haggling - they set their own price, I didn't set it for them.
This tutor is also the most expensive one I contacted, which is fairly ironic. Also, how someone like that gets a lot of good reviews is beyond me... maybe he just had a bad day?
Anyway, the others responded in a more expected manner. I scheduled a few trial lessons with the ones that seemed like the best fit. I was considering working with more than one tutor if the fit was good.
The tutor I had the most hope for was this middle-aged lady with many good reviews and claiming 13+ years of experience teaching Turkish to beginners offline and online. I didn't really want a 20 year old university kid with no teaching experience looking for some pocket money, maybe that's fine for conversation practice, but not for learning from zero imo.
Anyway, I get on the call, explain my level (zero - week 1) and general context for learning the language. First thing she does is tell me how handsome I am, and that she assumed I was much younger. Then she spends like a minute or two trying to remember how to say I must have good genes (as in, the looks and/or lack of visible ageing is hereditary). Okay, not a big deal, but kind of strange way to start.
So then she proceeds to open some images on a web browser, and ask me what various things in Turkish are.
– What is this?
– I'm sorry, I don't know many words yet
– Just try it
– I do not know
– Okay Araba
Each time she was waiting, genuinely expecting me to know how to say tree, or apple, or tram token in Turkish. And when I kept telling her I am just starting, she said just to try it, and anyway it is about pronunciation practice. Okay, then maybe teach me pronunciation instead of making me guess words I clearly do not know?
Then she pulled up some PDF exercises (fill in the blank type) and expected me to solve them. Again I didn't have the vocab for it, and kept mentioning it to her. Clearly, I could have prepared for this lesson if she gave me a couple days heads up to go over the vocab, but on the fly, how? It was so bizarre, and I kept thinking how can this person claim to have 13+ years experience? Is the standard that low or is she lying?
Ironically, she was also comparatively expensive. Just like the first tutor I mentioned.
The funny thing is, I also gave this young guy a chance. Much cheaper than the other two, and not claiming certification etc. He very much fit the vibe of what I wrote I didn't want (kid with no teaching experience looking for some pocket money). However his profile was so positive and welcoming, and his response to my message so organized and serious, that I chose to give him a shot. He is by far the best tutor I ever had a pleasure of working with, in any language. Serious, organized, accommodating to my needs, able to explain points I do not understand in English flawlessly (his command of grammar terminology in English is better than mine, by far). And all of that at fraction of the price that the two clowns above were charging. Moral of the story, don't judge the book by its cover, I guess.