These sessions should be thought of as an experience somewhere in between a language exchange and a tutorial. The tutors you are connecting with aren’t necessarily teachers, but they’re all native speakers, have been trained by Chatterbug, and they’ll help you practice speaking and listening to the target language.
Our system will build a lesson containing a number of exercises at your level (related to the self-study materials for the unit you’re studying) for you to practice with a partner. Try to relax and have fun - it’s not a test, you’re simply practicing! Your tutor knows that and is there to help you out.
How to Connect
If you have a scheduled lesson coming up, you will see a link on your dashboard telling you when it is scheduled. Five minutes before the start of the lesson, you can join the session by clicking on Join Lesson.
The Waiting Room
Once you have joined the session, we will make sure your mic and camera work properly and that you can be easily seen. You will see what your camera is sending and will need to make some noise to verify that your microphone works before being allowed to go into the classroom.
We strongly advise using Google Chrome on a desktop or laptop computer for the video to work. Other browsers and especially older versions of Safari don’t support WebRTC, meaning you will only be able to do an audio lesson without video, and mobile devices like iPads, iPhones, or Android are not supported.
Once both sides have clicked the “Ready! Start the Live Lesson” button, you will both enter the classroom. Until then, you can send text messages in the chat window to your partner. For example, “Sorry, my camera isn’t working, just a minute”.
Initially, while both sides video/audio streams connect and you get settled, you will see a welcome screen. This is to give you a minute to introduce yourself and ask the other person how they are and what their name is if you are comfortable doing that.
If you don’t know how to say or ask those things, there is a cheat sheet to help you. At any time, you can use the chat window under the video to clarify things or ask questions. The transcript of this room will be available to you after the lesson as well, if you want to use it to take notes.
Once you’re ready to start the lesson, you can hit the Start First Exercise button to begin your first exercise.
Now you will do a series of exercises that are all fairly small in scope. They’re all meant to exercise some specific vocabulary group, grammar type or scenario in your target language.
The instructions are generally pretty simple, but if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, feel free to either move on or just try to have a conversation with the tutor about what you think might be the aim.
The timeline of the session is always displayed at the top of the screen so you can see how much more time you have. At any point you can skip to the next exercise by hitting the Next Exercise button.
When you move to the next exercise, the system will ask you how you felt about the exercise you just completed.
This is used to determine when we should have you try this exercise again. The better you feel about it, generally, the longer it will be until you see it again. If you don’t feel like you know the material very well, we’ll show it to you again more often until you master it.
If you don’t think it worked at all - you didn’t know what to do at all or you don’t want to do it ever again, you can hit the left-most frowny-face and we’ll blacklist the exercise so you never get it again.
The End of the Lesson
Once you get near the end of the lesson time, the system will warn you both that you’re running out of time. When 5 minutes are left, you will see a warning at the top of the screen.
60 seconds after you first see this warning, you won’t be able to switch to another exercise. So, if you want to stick on this one for 5 more minutes, that’s fine. If you want to do one more, switch within a minute of seeing this initial warning.
After you hit Next Exercise on the last exercise, you’ll see the “Goodbye” screen which lets you say goodbye to your partner.
You can hit Finish this Session at any point, but 1 minute after the scheduled end of the lesson, the system will cut you off. The warning will turn red before that happens.
Finally, you will have a chance to rate your partner. The most important rating is if you would like to work with them again or not. After that, we care the most about if they were friendly and encouraging, if you could hear and see them well, and how much you enjoyed the session overall.
Your rating is only seen by the Chatterbug support team and not accessible to your tutor directly. The only way a tutor may know about their ratings is if several students thumb them down over a period of time, in which case our Tutor Community Manager will reach out to them and highlight areas of improvement. Your comments are also entirely anonymized in this case and communicated to the tutor in their monthly performance review.
Your tutor will have the exact same form for you when the session is over, to know if everything went well during your lesson.
Final Things to Remember
Learning a language is difficult and takes time. Nobody is immediately great at it and you need to practice it over and over again before it comes naturally - much like playing a musical instrument, it’s essentially a muscle memory. Try to relax and have fun and not take it too seriously or be too hard on yourself. Laugh at your mistakes, smile, you’ll do a little better each time you do it.
Also, your partner isn’t your teacher, Chatterbug is. Your partner is there to help you practice. If they don’t know what to do next either, just skip to the next lesson. If they don’t know why the language behaves in a certain way, don’t worry about it.
Finally, remember that this is a good place to make mistakes. It’s much easier to be wrong here where it doesn’t matter than when you’re trying to talk to an actual native speaker in the real world, so don’t be afraid to try new things and get corrected. Try not to be embarrassed, this is the place to stretch those muscles and miss those shots.
Have fun, and let us know how we can make the experience more fun, helpful, welcoming or interesting.