The language learning industry has evolved a lot over the past decade. An abundance of internet resources, web and mobile applications has made language learning much easier and faster than ever before. When learning new language in today’s world, many people wonder if they need the assistance of a tutor or if they can do everything themselves via digital textbooks and language learning software. We decided to clarify this question by interviewing a brilliant Russian language tutor Ann Bondarovitch.
Technology and human tutorship
– Ann, explain please, why would one need a tutor for learning a foreign language?
Ann: We need a tutor especially to take the first steps correctly. Besides, If a tutor or teacher was capable and had the passion for passing not only language, but the culture carried on the language’s wings, he or she can infect you with this passion and make you fly rather than struggle your way forward!
– Technology has replaced humans in many domains. Now people can practice a language using software or apps. What is not covered by the apps? Why is a language tutor still needed?
Ann: For sure, apps and other software can help a lot. They make the experience of learning funny and rich. However, that depends on the apps or software you are using. Unfortunately, some bad apps will rather harm your learning experience and waste a lot of your precious time with a very little in return. So, it’s difficult to choose which educational app or which website you can trust and start to spend your time (and maybe your money) on it.
At the same time, apps still don’t replace tutors, since the process of learning a new language is strongly connected to communicating with real human beings in the real world! Although machines can do all the jobs nearly as efficiently as human, they still lack the humanistic aspect.
Each tutor understands the need of his student and how to make him or her understand the concept, while machines just follow a set pattern regardless of the student it is teaching. Tutors have a healing touch which machines will always lack. Finally, software or apps usually do not cover emotions, subtleties in pronunciation and using idioms, as well as changes in accordance to modern state of languages.
Is Bilingua competible with real life communication?
– Recently, we have created a language exchange app which allows users to find native speakers from all over the world to learn each other’s language. Do you believe this type of product can overcome the disadvantages of ‘machine learning’, such as lack of emotions and oral communication?
Ann: I think that language exchange apps solve the communication problem partially… Sometimes friends on the internet become real friends, but one cannot depend on them totally. Apps’ role is to support the process of learning new words, new verbs, while the most important is communicating with real people in real life.
Every real life-situation will teach you a phrase or a new word 🙂 Communication will also let you sense the strength of each word (that couldn’t be acquired by other means). So, you will be able to choose your words correctly.
– The purpose of Bilingua is to provide the communication that one misses with traditional self-education. You don’t just learn new words. You can talk with video and see all the reactions, emotions, and responses of your language exchange partners. Therefore, you can actually learn to ‘sense the strength of each word’..!
The main difference is that users talk about different topics, instead of appearing in real life situations like in public places, shops, etc. Although we do offer ‘role games’ so that the users could simulate situations that are closer to reality. Moreover, you don’t depend on one single partner, as you can always have someone online to talk with. Finally, it is much harder to meet a person in real life than online, isn’t it?
Ann: I have to agree with you that nowadays it is easier to meet a person online than in real life. Such opportunity to communicate on the internet saves a lot of time.
– And the last question for you! What is the most common request from students when they apply to a language tutor?
Ann: Oh, they usually ask: ‘’What is the title of the most useful and small textbook?’’ [laughing]. They can also want me to explain some text in my own words, to make their life easier 🙂
My name is Ann Bondarovitch and I am a Russian native speaker from Belarus. I have been working for 5 years as a Russian language tutor. I graduated from the Belarusian State Pedagogical University and am certified as an Russian and Bulgarian teacher. Have been teaching Russian to foreigners face-to-face and via Skype. While teaching, I use English and French; also have experience in individual tutoring of Russian to English, Arabic and Persian speakers. My methods include combinations of individual and communicative technologies. The distinctive feature of my teaching is simplicity of information presentation.
My interests include languages teaching, Belarusian and foreign cultures, travelling and psychology. I am an open-minded, reliable and patient person. I adore my job. It is a pleasure for me to help and to see the excellent results of my students.”
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Skype: annablago1