Frequently Asked Questions
Language Learning Questions
Is it difficult to learn another Language?
It can be difficult. We are realistic. An English Student who learned some French and Spanish in high school can pretty quickly see good progress in that Language. In contrast, learning Russian from the absolute Beginner Level for an English-speaker is more difficult and takes dedication. For the first few weeks it may seem almost impossible, but then it clicks into place and the initial effort will quickly be rewarded.
Why should I learn another Language?
Most people learn another Language for travel, business or academic reasons. That is why MyPLT is so appropriate, as being "Personal" we can exactly match your Lesson Plan to your goals.
I have never succeeded in learning a Language before - why will MyPLT be different?
The key is "Personal". You have our 100% attention and you are not distracted by other students or embarrassed by speaking in a group. Your Tutor draws you into a conversation, and you are both totally engaged. Your Tutor writes the difficult phrases in Skype Instant Message, and that gives you a Lesson Transcript to review on your own. We are sure you will be amazed at your progress!
Can children learn with MyPLT?
Yes indeed! Children are very familiar with voice and Instant Message and also learn very quickly, perhaps as they are less inhibited. We have special school-related programs.
I Home School my children - can MyPLT help?
Certainly. That is the value of "Personal" - we will adapt the Lesson Plan to your School District curriculum.
I am a Senior - can I learn a Language?
Of course! Learning a Language is considered a great way for Seniors to keep their minds active. Seniors do very well as they have more time for homework, and are often frequent travelers.
Can you teach people in my organization?
Yes we can. Your staff members can take Lessons at their desk, over lunchtime, or after work. You have no loss of productivity time with workers needing to travel to classes. Your workers can schedule Lessons when they need them. We will arrange volume rates, and give you reports on attendance and academic progress. You may enroll various staff members in different Languages at different Levels. This is also a good approach for your immigrant workers who need better knowledge of your Language to improve their work skills and work output.
The My Personal Language Tutor advantage
What is the main advantage of MyPLT?
We are "Personal". This is one-on-one individualized instruction, tailored to your personal goals. Lessons are scheduled when you want them, with no travel time or wasted time.
Can you compare MyPLT to a college class?
One of our Founders has taken several French classes at University of California in Los Angeles - a top academic institution. He had a 7 pm evening class for 9 sessions of 2.5 hours for US $265 (UCLA Class R5215B). The instructor was excellent. However, our student had to leave work at 5:30 to drive to UCLA and park and get to class. With a 30 minute break the total class time was 18 hours or US $15 per hour. With a 1 hour walk and drive home, each evening the class time of 2 hours was balanced by a travel and break time of 3 hours. With 12 people in the class, the speaking time for each Student was only about 10 minutes per class. So in a total time of 5.5 hours, the speaking time was 10 minutes. With MyPLT, a 1 hour Lesson takes 1 hour with no travel and 100% speaking time. You can take the Lessons as frequently as you want and whenever you want, and they cost less. No wonder our Founder progressed more quickly using MyPLT. That is why he started the company!
Can you compare MyPLT to a local Tutor?
Local Tutors can be good. However, apart from the difficulty of finding a Tutor of excellent quality for your Language, there are awkward aspects. Where do you meet - your house, their house, the local library, a coffee shop? Coffee shops are OK for informal practice, but the atmosphere is not good for Beginner Level or more formal grammar instruction. Local Tutors are often more expensive. There are generally travel time and scheduling restrictions as well. You can't beat the convenience of MyPLT!
Can you compare MyPLT to a residential "Immersion" course?
We will never criticize taking a month in the South of France to learn French! We should all be so lucky! Residential classes can be excellent but they take a big slice out of your vacation time. The "per hour" cost is also high, especially if you count the lodging and airfare - but the food can be really good. The academic risk is that you are again learning French (for example) with a group of English speakers, of different levels. We think this is less effective that one-on-one instruction. Also when you get home, there is no follow up, and your skills can begin to fade. We think steady instruction over time is a better option than a single month of "immersion". Why not do the "immersion" at home, more effectively, and for less money? Then you can spend your vacation time having fun in France, not in a classroom.
How do I sign up?
Please fill out the Student "Contact Us" form on the Contact Us page. You should include your telephone number, as we will want to chat with you.
What happens after I submit the "Contact Form"?
We will call you and discuss your level, goals, and what time of day you prefer your Lessons. We will match your wishes with a Lesson Plan and a Tutor, and show you how to use Skype and our Academic Manager computer system. Then your Tutor will contact you and arrange the Lesson schedule.
MyPLT Academic Manager computer system
What is the MyPLT computer system?
We call our computer system the Academic Manager. The Academic Manager is a specially designed, web-based computer system that allows you, your Tutor and our administrators to keep track of your Lessons, academic progress, payments and your satisfaction notes. This allows you to see your Lesson and Account details at any time, without the need to call or email us. Of course we always welcome your calls and emails, especially about your academic goals and progress. Without the Academic Manager, we would all quickly lose track of what was going on, especially as we work across so many Time Zones.
Do I have to use the Academic Manager?
No - we would really like you to use the system for routine inquiries, Account information and Lesson scheduling. In this way we can ensure that none of your questions go unanswered. Emails and phone calls can get lost, whereas the Academic Manager logs everything in a secure database. We will help you become acquainted with the system, and after a few times you will feel comfortable with it. However, we do not insist that you use the computer. We just want you to learn another Language.
Can I have a Trial Lesson?
Yes. We always give you a Trial Lesson at no charge. Trial lessons are 1 hour and are very effective in understanding our approach. You will need your computer and perhaps a headset. This is also a good way of testing out the communications and allowing you to meet a Tutor. Please fill out the "Contact Us" form and we will go ahead with arranging the Trial Lesson.
Do you provide Group Lessons?
Yes, we can accommodate up to 4 people in a Group Lesson. The effectiveness of the Lesson is somewhat reduced, as each person speaks only part of the time. Group Lessons are good for a family planning a vacation in Italy, for example. There is no need for fluency, but learning in a family setting, just enough to get by will enhance the vacation.
How do Group Lessons work?
Students must all be affiliated around a Group Contact Person. The Group Contact Person arranges the Lesson with the Tutor, and takes care of the payments, etc. Other Group Participants do not need to be registered with MyPLT. The Group Contact Person is responsible for getting all the Group Participants online at the correct time. The Lesson will be billed to the Group Contact Person as a Group Lesson even if some Group Participants fail to show up.
Can children take Group Lessons?
Yes, most certainly. This can also be ideal for a Home School Group. Children can be in different locations. We ask that a responsible adult act as the Group Contact Person. We think that 3 children may be the ideal sized Group. The best approach is to try out the Group with your Tutor and see how the dynamics work out.
Languages and Levels of Instruction
How do MyPLT Lessons work?
Your Tutor will organize each Lesson according to your level and goals. All our Tutors can teach at any level. We do not make a formal distinction between different types of Lessons. Your Tutor will mix conversation, reading, writing, and grammar appropriately within each Lesson. We emphasize spontaneous conversation, because that is where most Students are the weakest, but you will need some grammar in order to improve your conversation. For most Students we have a textbook to which we refer for a part of each Lesson. Your Tutor has exactly the same textbook, so you can both turn to specific page numbers. For European Languages especially, after you get past the Beginner level, you will also both work with a verb conjugation book.
Which Languages do you offer?
We offer the popular languages of French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese Russian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, German, Polish, Hebrew, Latin, and Dutch. We also teach English as a Second Language (ESL) primarily at the Advanced and Intermediate Level.
What if I don't find language I'm interested in on the list?
That means we do not yet provide that Language. Please send us the Contact Form with a note about your needs, and we will respond with a note on how we can help you.
How do I know what instruction level I need?
Your Tutor will informally gauge your goals and level during the first 2 lessons. For most students, we do not use formalized tests, as they are needlessly complicated for the conversational fluency that is usually requested.
Your Tutor will then discuss with you the best materials to match your level and subject area of interest.
Of course we teach to the standardized tests required by some Students, such as TOEFL, Cambridge University English tests, the HSK Test for Mandarin, the JLPT for Japanese, and Airline Company Proficiency Tests, etc.
Cost and Payment
How much do the Lessons cost?
Regular Lessons are US $20 per hour.
How much do Group Lessons cost?
Group Lessons are US $26 per Lesson hour.
What is the charge for correcting Homework?
For correction of essays and longer Homework texts, which are done by the Tutor outside of Lesson Time, we charge in 15 minute increments at $5 per 15 minutes.
How do I pay?
Most Students pay by credit card. A few use Paypal or personal check. For credit cards you input your credit card information into our system, and we charge your credit card after each lesson. For Paypal or personal check, we ask you to send us a payment after the first lesson to cover 2 lessons, and then pay monthly. For Paypal, we convert other currencies to US Dollars at the Exchange Rate listed in Paypal. Personal checks are accepted mainly from Students in the US, and must be drawn on a US bank. Special arrangements are possible, please just ask us.
Are there any Discounts?
Yes. We often have promotions and multiple Lesson pre-payment Discounts. Chat to us about current offers. We negotiate volume discounts with corporations, schools and government agencies that are paying for multiple students.
Are my Credit Card payments secure?
Yes. Our Credit Card payments are handled by a huge US card processor. We have never had a problem with Credit Card payments.
What happens if I am not satisfied with my Lesson?
We are very reasonable to deal with. We will speak with you about the situation, adjust the fee or give a make-up Lesson if appropriate. We will work with you and your Tutor, or a new Tutor if preferred, to ensure your future continuing satisfaction. Our service is built on the establishment of a good Student-Tutor partnership where good academic progress and value are achieved.
What is the Refund Policy?
If you are not satisfied with a Lesson, we will work out the best remedy, which could include a Refund. If you have pre-paid a package of multiple Lessons for a Discount, and then want to stop in the middle, we will reprice your Lesson at the single Lesson rate and give you a Refund for the balance.
How do I keep track of my Lessons and Payments?
Your Lessons and Payments are readily available to you at any time using our Academic Manager system. We give you a Password to the system, and we will help you become familiar with reviewing your schedule of Lessons and Payments.
We also send you a Monthly Statement in PDF Format.
Will you raise the price during my studies?
No. We will guarantee your price for as long as you are studying, and do not have a gap of more than 6 months between your Lessons.
Choosing a Tutor
How is my Tutor chosen?
All our Tutors are native speakers in the Language you want to learn, and all have language qualifications and teaching experience. Every Tutor can teach at all levels of the Language. All Tutors speak almost perfect English. So if you are French and want to learn Russian, then your Tutor will be a native Russian speaker who also speaks pretty good French, and is fluent in English. We also choose your Tutor based on Time Zones and scheduling. For example, if you are a "Morning Person" in Los Angeles, we might match you with a Russian Tutor in Kiev, who likes to work in the evenings there.
Can I change a Tutor?
Yes. You may request to change Tutors for any reason.
Setting up Lessons
How do I arrange Lessons?
You agree on the next Lesson Appointment with your Tutor, at a time convenient to you both. You will probably settle into a regular pattern. Your Tutor will then enter the Lesson Appointment details into the computer system. The computer system will send you an email confirming the date and time, etc. You may also log into the computer system and see your Lesson Appointment schedule and history.
What if I have to cancel a Lesson?
You may cancel your Lesson Appointment by contacting your Tutor. Cancellations within 24 hours of the Appointment will be charged for one hour.
What if I have to change the time of a Lesson?
If you can agree with your Tutor more than 24 hours in advance to change the time of your Lesson, then there is no cancellation charge. Otherwise, if you cannot agree on a changed time, then the Cancellation Rule applies. Remember that your Tutor may have other Students scheduled, and may be on a very different Time Zone, so it may be difficult to reschedule to the time you want.
How many Lessons should I have per week?
For best results, we feel you need at least 2 Lessons per week to maintain the momentum - but more than 3 Lessons per week is probably too much if you have a regular job.
Will I be assigned Homework?
If you are serious about the Language, your Tutor will assign Homework. This is a very cost-effective situation for you, as you are learning from our materials without extra charge.
Do you charge for correcting Homework?
For Beginning Students with just small amounts of Homework we go over the Homework during the next Lesson.
For Intermediate and Advanced Students who submit longer and more complicated essays, the Tutor makes corrections in her own time, and sends back the corrected text prior to the next Lesson.
Then the corrected Homework is reviewed together in the next Lesson. This is most effective, and the Tutor's time is charged in 15 minute increments at the standard Lesson rate.
What if I do not do the Homework?
You will not get the most benefit from the classes, but we will not be angry! If you do not want Homework, we will guide you into appropriate "easy listening" materials.
Do you suggest additional materials?
We would like you do have perhaps 15 minutes per day on your own, listening to the Language. For example, French radio is available over the Internet, and many cities have Spanish language stations. Your Tutor will guide you. For beginners, radio and newspapers may be too difficult. We will suggest inexpensive CDs or Podcats to listen to in your car - just a few minutes each day to keep the momentum.
Evaluations & Measuring Progress
Do I receive evaluations?
We work this out with the Student. Most Students are learning as a hobby, and we give informal evaluations and feedback. We can give formal tests if the Student desires, or if they are required by the sponsoring organization, for example.
Will I have to buy Instructional Materials?
Yes - you will need to buy the Textbook specified by your Tutor, which will depend on your Level. These books generally cost less than $20 and are available on Amazon through the MyPLT website. The intent here is that your Tutor can ask you to turn to a given page in the Textbook, and you can read the page together. We often recommend CDs, and a Verb Book. For some Languages, especially Russian and French, a special keyboard is helpful, but is not required at first.
Equipment and Communications
What type of computer do I need?
You should have a good basic computer, preferably running Windows XP or a more recent version.
Any recent Mac computer also works well.
Which Browser do I need?
Skype works on all Browsers, including Mac.
The Academic Manager is standardized on Internet Explorer, but works pretty well on Firefox. Mac users should use Firefox, but Safari also works OK.
How do I speak with my Tutor?
We use the Skype Voice over Internet as a free telephone method.
Do I need extra equipment with Skype?
Maybe. You may prefer to use a standard headset with earphones and microphone. This is more comfortable, and gives better voice quality. Your teacher will not hear trucks going past your window. A headset is not expensive, for example US $20 in America. More recent laptops have better internal microphones, so perhaps try th Trial Lesson with your laptop and then decide whether to buy a headset.
Can I type messages to my Tutor?
Yes. Skype has Instant Message, and this is very important, as your Tutor will often say a phrase and then Instant Message that phrase to you so you can understand the spelling. Also, at the end of the session, we recommend copying the Instant Message transcript into a Word document, so you can print it for review.
How do I get Skype?
Skype can be downloaded at no cost from the Skype website www.skype.com. If you have questions, we can help you.
Can I use another Voice or Instant Message system?
We realize that there are other systems, but we have all standardized on Skype. We would prefer you use Skype with your Tutor.
What sort of Internet Connection do I need?
We have used Broadband (DSL, cable modem, etc.) successfully. Dial up connection will not give acceptable voice quality and reliability. Often, satellite internet is not quite good enough. For people living in USA and Canada in rural regions without good internet, we have a phone alternative.
How do I type other Languages?
Windows and Mac are very well organized for non-Latin Languages, such as Russian, and also the special accented characters in French, etc. Skype supports non-Latin character sets.
Will I need a different Keyboard?
For certain Languages, a special Keyboard is essential. We even find it worthwhile for French. An expert can manage by typing special keystroke sequences for accented characters, but for someone learning you really need a special keyboard for the Language. You can also write the Language on paper, scan it and send to your Tutor, but we recommend also getting a keyboard.
How expensive are special keyboards, and where do I get them?
A special keyboard is not expensive, for example a Russian keyboard costs around US $25 in America. We can help you find the keyboard, depending on where you are and which Language you need. The keyboard stickers available on Amazon are inexpensive - perhaps $8 - and work very well. We use these stickers in our office at MyPLT.
Can I send Files to my Tutor?
Yes you may send Files, such as Homework exercises, by email. Skype can be used for sending files, but it can be very slow, especially if you are talking at the same time.
Will I have my Tutor's email address?
Yes, all our Tutors have MyPLT email addresses, and you can send notes and Homework, etc. by email.
I've read all FAQ and didn't find my question, what to do?
Please send us your question on the Contact Us page.