So What Is Language Coaching Anyway?

You might have noticed by now that my website talks about the concept of "language coaching". 

When I've told people about language coaching they've always asked me "Cool! What's that? Could you elaborate?" The problem is, they often ask me to teach them a language, thinking that a language teacher and a language coach are the same thing.

They're definitely not! 

A language teacher by definition is someone who teaches someone or instructs someone in a foreign language, teaches them language lessons, gives students information about the grammar and vocabulary of a language, and except for independent teachers, they generally do not fit their language lessons to the students' learning styles with the constraint of an administrative curriculum. Teachers use textbooks and other traditional classroom materials in the learning process. Language learning is treated as a subject to be studied and memorized. When a student makes a mistake, the student is given a lower grade for that mistake.

Language teachers generally only teach students the languages they are fluent in because they are either fluent or native speakers of the languages they teach. The teacher-student relationship has traditionally been top-down with the teacher being the source of information about the student's learning and the student traditionally passively receiving the information and being tested on it.

A language coach is an entirely different profession. I understand that I'm not the first language coach and there are many language coaches out there, so I'll at least provide my definition of what a language coach is based on my observations. Language coaches, unless they are training people to become language coaches, do not have students. They have clients, and these clients are generally in an active relationship with language coaches. The language coach and the client are at the same level and act as peers, and all the responsibility for language learning is on the client, not the coach. There are normally no classroom materials used in the learning process. Language learning is treated as a skill to be developed and practiced. When a client makes a mistake, the client is given constructive feedback on the mistake and opportunities to correct the mistake through practice. 

Language coaches often know more than two languages and will adapt to help students with any language they desire. Because language coaches have experimented with multiple languages through trial and error, they will have learned how to learn languages, so knowing the language that the client is learning is less important than imparting language learning strategies on the client that can be applied to any language. If a language coach doesn't know the language the client is learning, the coach will refer to someone who does know that language. The language coach individualizes the learning process for each client to fit the client's way of learning and guides the client in a coaching conversation rather than teaching them. Clients are active in their learning and are encouraged to actively take the information and apply it. 

Both teachers and coaches need to be patient in helping the people they serve and both need to have a clear idea of the services they're offering and the types of curriculum and session plans they need for whatever audience they're teaching or coaching for. Language coaching is NOT a replacement for language teaching, but instead it's an alternative to or a supplement to language teaching. 

Hopefully that explains the difference between language teaching and language coaching clearly! Hope you enjoyed this post! Would you prefer to have a language teacher or a language coach? Or possibly both? Make sure to leave a comment below!