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The Different Types of Professors Teaching Foreign Languages

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a student studying languages in university, it’s that there is a huge amount of diversity among students and professors alike. Everyone is studying a language for their own reasons and as such, have different levels of experience and exposure.

In general, students are grouped based on similar skill levels, and there’s a consensus that you’re all there to learn. Basically, everyone sort of blends into one entity, especially with online courses.

The professors are where it gets interesting.

As someone who’s taken French, German and Spanish courses at Laurier, I’ve had a decent variety of professors. Each has their own quirks and as such, I wanted to do my best to summarize all of them.

The grammar professional.

They’re one of the scariest professors to have as a beginner. They know their subject like the back of their hand, and they aren’t afraid to call you out on mistakes. It’s how you learn after all. If they’re your first language professor ever, I’m so sorry. But in your later years, you’ll be thanking them for drilling everything into your head.

The surprisingly chill one.

Chances are this professor will be full of reassurances and frequently mentions how it’s alright to make mistakes. They’re gentle with their corrections, but maybe not as in-depth about grammar points as you’d like. Their assignments don’t take a lot of time and as long as you pay attention in lecture, you’ll be fine.

The one who forgets you are beginners.

Similar to the grammar professional, this professor can be incredibly scary. If you thought you had a grasp on the language before their class, they’ll have you second-guessing it. They’re the professor that doesn’t give explanations in English, even if it’s a new concept. By the end of their course, you’ll feel like you’re drowning, but you’ll ultimately have improved a lot.

The one who doesn’t answer your emails.

This professor may not be exclusive to the language department, but, oh my god, can they be frustrating. You will have to ask your questions during class or office hours, and you will have to stumble your words in the most mortifying way. No, I do not know why they don’t just answer your email.

The one with a heavy accent.

This professor is likely a native speaker of the language. They speak rapidly and it’s hard to keep up. You might be too afraid to ask them to slow down as you adjust to understanding their accent, but hopefully, someone else will bite the bullet and ask for you. They can be incredibly intimidating but they are often the friendliest of professors who just want to help you learn the language they love.

There are so many different types of professors when it comes to language learning, but these five types are ones I’ve personally had. No matter the professor, they all genuinely want you to succeed, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

Kathryn Morton

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Kathryn is a third year language student who spent her first year stumbling through Laurier's financial mathematics program before ultimately changing her major. Yes, she's aware those two have no overlap, we don't talk about that. This is her third year writing for Her Campus Laurier.
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