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I have been tutoring French for a very long time, this is the first time I have had a parent who sits at the table with me and their child. During the entire lesson they are interrupting by trying to correct their child's answers and pronunciation. The parent does not speak French, their corrections are not always wrong but are not always right either, either way it is affecting my ability to teach their child.

In addition to impeding my ability to teach the child, it is definitely making me uncomfortable. I would like to ask the parent if they could not sit with us the whole time, or maybe express that I would like to do the teaching by myself during the lesson (not have them interrupt with corrections). Again, this is the only child I have ever had in about ten years of professional tutoring who has done this!

Some specific issues I have in accomplishing this are that although neither mine nor the parents first language is English, we communicate in English. I struggle with speaking in English on the spot, and I would rather be able to send an email to the parent. I would like it to be polite and elicit their understanding, I don't want it to come across as confrontational.

For cultural context this is in Canada.

  • Hi Julianna, it looks like you may have accidentally made two accounts - if you click on the "Contact" link (here, or at the bottom of the page), you can merge them so you will be able to directly edit and accept answers and such on this post :) – Em C Dec 10 '18 at 3:48
  • From another French tutor (soon to be teacher) in Canada, here's a similar question I asked that may help. – Euchris Dec 10 '18 at 13:06
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As you are trying to avoid being confrontational, you could present it to them as a report on their child's progress. I don't know if you would normally do this? Perhaps you give verbal feedback to parents rather than a written report, but this would hopefully not come over as confrontational because it should seem routine.

A school report would normally reflect on what has been done and also highlight what improvements need to be made, so make the matter of your concern the area for improvement.

Perhaps write:

I am writing with an update on [child's name]'s progress.

[comment on the positive areas of their progress]

However, I feel that their progress is being limited by the presence of their parent during lessons. Normally lessons are conducted one-to-one. I would recommend that your child attend their lesson alone in order for them to continue progressing.

If they continue to turn up after you have advised them not to, then perhaps you should assert your authority during the lesson. After all, you are the teacher, and the parent is paying you to act as one! Most parents want their children's teachers to instil discipline into them, so be strict! When the parent speaks out of turn, say "please be quiet", or "please let [child] answer". If they say or pronounce something incorrectly, say "no, that is incorrect. Please let [child] answer". Once the lesson is over, act as you would normally with the parent, smile at them, show them that there is no bad feeling even if you have had to quiet them. All kinds of teachers - school teachers, private tutors, driving instructors etc - have a "professional persona" and will correct their students during lesson time. You are allowed to control your lessons because that is the job you have been paid to do.

It may be that the parent is actually hoping to learn the language themselves by sitting in on the lessons! If that is the case, you could suggest that they need to pay for a lesson of their own?

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