Language Teaching versus Language Coaching: Are they really that different?

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Issue 01 / SARAH SPICER

At a networking event recently, a new connection asked me what I do for a living.

“I’m an English coach”, I replied.

“Oh, you teach English”, he confirmed.

“Well, not exactly…”

You see, although traditional language teaching has its be-nefits, when you work with a qualified and experienced language coach, you will have an altogether different experience.

What’s the difference?

Traditionally, the language teacher imparts their knowle-dge about the language to the learner. The teacher directs the learning, and they tend to follow a set curriculum or use activi-ties from books. It’s generally a slower process with a focus on knowing the language.

In contrast, a language coach guides the coachee to set go-als, create a plan for their learning, and help them to overcome barriers that are holding them back. It is a much more efficient process as the focus is on achieving personal goals and using the language.

Could language coaching be a more effective option for you?

Here are 5 cases where language coaching can really help.

1. You want a course that addresses your specific needs.

    Traditional language courses follow a set curriculum with set activities, topics, and vocabulary lists. Although you will gain some benefits, there will undoubtedly be some aspects that are not useful to you.

    A skilled coach will use questioning techniques and language analysis to identify the exact needs of their clients. This perso-nalised approach will not only help to address gaps in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, but will also help to cultivate the practical language you need for your life and work. For instan-ce, the language needs of a hotel manager in Dubai will be verdifferent from an engineer who has recently relocated to the UK. When a course is personalised in this way, the process is more efficient and therefore cost-effective.

    2. You have been learning the language for a long time, but you don’t feel confident using it.

      Traditional language courses (especially those taught in schools) focus on grammar and vocabulary but with little empha-sis on using the language. Then when you have to use an additio-nal language at work or in business, it can be overwhelming and frustrating. You have a good passive knowledge of the language, but you can’t find the words to say in the moment.

      In a language coaching session, more time is allocated to practice. A skilled coach will give you detailed feedback so you can track your progress and continually improve. This will help build your confidence using the language in high-stake situati-ons such as client meetings or presentations.

      3. You feel like you’re no good at learning languages because other courses haven’t worked.

      The truth is that everyone can learn a language no matter their age or experience. If traditional methods haven’t worked for you, then this doesn’t mean that it is not possible.

      In fact, it is often the belief itself that prevents learners from achieving their goals.

      A language coach will help you to overcome this belief and work closely with you to find the strategies and methods that will work. You may also have other limiting beliefs holding you back that you’re not aware of. A skilled coach will help you to identify these and work through them allowing you to achieve your po-tential in the language.

      4. You don’t have a lot of time.

      The modern world is busy, and it is difficult to justify taking time out to complete a language course. In traditional courses,

      progress is made in the lessons; this means you will need many lessons to make significant progress.

      English coaching recognises that most learning happens outside the classroom, and so a coach will help you to become an independent learner. They will guide you to create learning habits that you can integrate into your busy routine both during the course and into the future. Although the initial financial in-vestment will be more than working with a teacher, you won’t be reliant on the coach indefinitely. Huge changes can be made in just a couple of months.

      5. You want to learn by yourself, but you get distracted.

      There is such a wealth of free material online, you could te-ach yourself a language without spending a penny. However, so many options create overwhelm, distraction and procrastinati-on.

      This is where a language coach can be your guide and per-sonal cheerleader! They will help you to set goals and create a personalised learning plan, allowing you to assess the relevance of online materials. The coach will help you to stay on track, ce-lebrate your wins and ensure you finally achieve your language learning goals.

      These are just some of the reasons language coaching may be a better option for you.

      Of course, you will find many 1:1 language teachers who na-turally use some of these techniques (I started to naturally gra-vitate towards coaching before I became qualified). However, hiring a qualified language coach with extensive experience will ensure you have the most efficient and cost-effective language learning experience.

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