The 7 things for you to do
1. I want to be fluent in 6 months, can you help me do that?
If they say they can, then they either don't know what they are doing or they are not being honest with you. Good experienced teachers know it takes years to become fluent in another language.
2. What is an inversion?
This is a question testing their knowledge of grammar. An inversion is when you use a question structure for one of the verbs in a sentence to add emphasis to what you are saying. In the below two sentences, the inversion is in bold.
'Not only did I buy a carrot, but I also bought a potato.'
'Only after he arrives, will I call you.'
If they don't know what an inversion is, they are not really an experienced English teacher.
3. What will we do in the classes?
Because you won't have a lot of time with the teacher (maybe one or two classes per week), the best way to use that time is for your teacher to normally give you grammar, vocabulary, reading or listening exercises to do outside of class and then to correct and practise what you have learnt in the class.
If the teacher says they will do this with you or something similar to this, then you know they are a good teacher and someone you can trust.
4. What do I need to improve?
At the end of the first class you should ask the teacher what you need to improve on. If they are a good teacher, they will be making notes about things you don't do well (e.g. listening, speaking etc...) and things you are making mistakes with (e.g. verb tenses, articles etc...) during the class.
They will use this to plan what they'll do in the future classes with you. If after you ask this question, they are able to explain and give examples of things you are making mistakes with (e.g. 'you sometimes use verb tenses incorrectly...'), then you know they know what they are doing.
What they do during the class
5. Do they talk too much?
A good English teacher shouldn't speak too much in class. The student should speak more in class than they do. Especially in the first class, they should be asking you questions and getting you to speak as much as possible to evaluate your level and what you do well and badly.
If the teacher speaks as much or more than you in the first class, then it suggests they don't really know how to teach English.
6. Do they talk too quickly?
If the person is speaking too quickly or not clearly enough for you to understand, it shows they don't have the experience to teach English well. If you have a problem with the person's accent, this will improve with time the more you hear it. But if they speak too quickly or not clearly, it will be a problem in future classes.
Something for you to do
7. Pretend to not understand something they say
During the class pretend not to understand one thing they say to you. When they say the thing again, pretend to still not understand what they have said.
You do this to test how patient they are and if they are able to explain something in a different way. This is something which good teachers are able to do. If the person gets angry or frustrated or just repeats again and again what they said before, it shows that they don't have the ability to be a good teacher.
Using them in the first class
When you want to do online one-to-one classes, I always recommend that you have a class with 3 or 4 different teachers and then after doing this choose the one who is the best.
You can use the above seven things to evaluate each teacher in the class and then choose the teacher who performs the best.
To do this, give a point for each of the 7 things that each of the teachers does well. And after you have had a class with all the teachers, chose the teacher who has scored the most points.
By doing this you will find a good teacher who will help you to improve your English quickly.
Download a teacher evaulation form
To make this easy for you to do, I have created a free sheet/form that you can print out and use to evaluate up to 4 different teachers on the seven things I said above. To download this sheet/form, press the download button below;