A key belief at the foundation of my language coaching work has always been that teachers aren't needed to learn a language. Younger people and students of mine seem to understand this far more readily than people who grew up in a culture where 'learning a language' meant taking a course or enrolling with a teacher.
I was very pleased, therefore, when I discovered that someone else had given a talk on this topic at last year's Polyglot Gathering. Lýdia Machová offers 'Language Mentoring', which is essentially the same idea as the language coaching that I do. I found the talk fascinating as a fellow practitioner, but I think there's lots of wisdom there for anyone seeking to study languages outside the classroom. Indeed, the whole point of the talk is sort of that 'outside the classroom' is in fact the place where language learning should mainly be taking place.
Some people, she explains, want to be taught a language, but what she tries to do in her work is show them how to learn. It may sound like a semantic difference to most, but it is crucially important.
Nobody can teach you a language. You have to learn it yourself. Wishing otherwise is to avoid the fact that real work has to happen when you're learning a language. This is a hard lesson for many to hear, but it is certainly something I stress to all new students I work with: you have to do the work.
Check out the rest of her talk for more on this solid approach to self-study and why working with a coach can help boost your language-learning efforts.