The Importance of Conducive Language Learning Environments


Private tutoring can be rough. Especially when teaching in a noisy environment or a training center that has a mix of children and adults. I’m having flashbacks to the time I was teaching an adult student, we’ll call him Tony. We were sitting on small plastic chairs, knees up to our elbows, the flickering-fluorescent lights made the room look sickly and prison-cell-like. Walls with chipped paint and cracked brick exposed, remnants of markers and crayon-scribblings old and new all over the walls from spastic kids. Yellow stained ceiling tiles. A mat on the floor with fruit and numbers for kids to crawl around and play while practicing English. This was on a Sunday evening which also happened to be the busiest day out of the week for the center. All rooms were filled as the place was at max capacity.

The noise and stress were unbearable. The walls were paper thin and the glass doors made it difficult to stay focused given all the commotion outside, parents talking loudly on the phone waiting for their kids to finish up their lessons. Tony couldn't focus. I couldn't teach properly. 

Tony and I had had enough. This was madness! He was paying good money, yet we were in a toxic learning environment! We both came to an agreement that we weren’t having lessons at the agency and would meet down the street at a local coffee shop instead. 

The mood changed instantly and the quality of the lessons paired with the casual environment was like night and day. Why hadn’t we been doing this sooner!?

“A study reveals the scientific truth: in public, there is a factor in the air that can improve productivity - it is sonic. Moderate noise can promote the fluency of the brain when dealing with information, and the background sound in the cafe just to maximize the brain to stimulate the creativity.”

A more important question we both ended up asking: “Why did we need the training center to have lessons?”

This isn’t just a case for Tony, but for a lot of other adult students and other tutors, I personally know. 

I recall having an interview with a prospective new student. During our conversation, we got to the part where we were asking where we lived. We ended up saying what metro station was the closest. She was 2 stops away from where I was, yet we spent 30+ minutes traveling to the agency to meet! 

We both decided to just deal directly with each other, save time and money and would meet at the local Starbucks. 

A lot of time can be spent trying to pick out a place to meet up. Besides a quick Google Maps search. I’d recommend Cafe Wifi. It’s a worldwide directory to find and share the best coffee shops and co-working spaces with fast Wi-Fi, power 🔌, delicious food 🍱, and more.

I'm not saying that all language training centers are bad. Actually, some of them are pretty good! But when it comes to dealing directly with your students we knew a process needed to be put in place to streamline everything from:

- Setting your own hourly rate.

- Showcasing your teaching ability, certificates, experience, and style.

- Posting your interests.

- Telling how far you’d be willing to travel and where you’d like to meet up.

...and many more details beforehand so students could just request lessons directly from you! No middleman. So we made Grasp. 

So, beautiful people! If you’re interested in finding people nearby to teach or learn from make sure to check out Grasp! But also keep in mind where you’ll have lessons. And, if you're looking for inspiration or materials and resources to teach English or even learn Chinese we have a growing #Slack community. Also, leave a comment and tell us where your favorite place to learn or teach is!