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To not feel able to teach my friend English

(4 Posts)
fadedflowers Thu 04-Jun-20 10:32:31

I have recently spent six months in a country whose language I’ve been learning for several years. I had planned to stay longer, but had to come home because of coronavirus.

One of the friends I made while in the country who speaks the local language wants me to teach her English. She does already know a little bit of English, but she wants to improve her level sufficiently so she can sit an English exam to get into an English-speaking university.

She wants me to teach her. We did do a video call a few weeks ago so she could practise speaking to me in English, and she wanted me to pretend she didn’t know any English and to teach her some greetings. She told me at the start of the video call that it would be about 45 minutes, but it ended up being over two hours and I was exhausted by the end of it.

I feel bad because obviously I’ve effectively been “practising” her language with her for six months, but I never asked her to teach me it. I simply enrolled in the same course that she did, except for her it was in her native language and for me it wasn’t. Today she has told me she intends to sit the exam, and can we practise English, starting from Monday. I’m not a teacher, I don’t know how to teach English. I’m also not able to invest the amount of time that I suspect she wants me to invest in this, when we did the video call before she asked me at the end “so the same time tomorrow?” I somehow managed to put her off but I don’t think I could do that every time. Emotionally I’m struggling a bit with lockdown and coronavirus and I don’t feel like I have the emotional resources right now to deal with her all the time, she’s lovely but generally quite intense.

I feel like I should do it because she’s the sort of person who would do anything for anyone to help them, and obviously I’m her friend and I have access to the knowledge she needs. Her situation is also really unstable at the minute, she’s struggling financially and her long distance long term relationship has ended during this lockdown time. So I feel like I have a duty to help her in any way I can. But although I want to help her, emotionally I don’t feel that I can, at least not to the level that she wants. What should I do?

OP’s posts: |
IrenetheQuaint Thu 04-Jun-20 10:39:38

It's perfectly reasonable for you to set clear boundaries here - maybe an hour a week (or whatever works for you) of conversation practice, while making clear you're not a teacher and therefore can't actually teach her.

There are countless English learning resources on the internet... she needs to take some initiative herself.

Happy20 Thu 04-Jun-20 10:43:12

Set a clear schedule of when and the length of time you are happy to help with and stick to it.

Ask yourself what would you be willing to do and go from there

lanthanum Thu 04-Jun-20 11:19:49

Agree -decide how much time you can offer and leave it at that. It might be a good idea to use Zoom - if you're using the free version you get kicked off after 40 minutes, which avoids things over-running!

I think there are some sites where people trade languages - so she could get some English help in return for helping someone with her language.

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