LMT Structure and Rules

The Language Maintenance Tutorials have proven to be a very rewarding experience for both tutors and students. The vast majority of students keep in contact with their tutors and report having taken full advantage of the tutorials. Many of them keep taking language tutorials during their whole time at Columbia! Nevertheless, should you have any suggestions or encounter problems during your LMT, please let us know at the earliest opportunity. We will do all in our power to solve them, and we will review and take into account all your suggestions to make our program better. And please, do not forget to complete the end of semester evaluation! It is a very valuable tool that lets us offer a constantly revised and improved program each semester.

If you have any further questions you can always call, e-mail, or visit us in our office.

More information:

  • The Language Maintenance Tutorials are voluntary non-credit courses. They cannot be used to meet the language requirement nor can they substitute for regularly offered credit courses.
  •  Individual Tutorials
    • The individual tutorial is focused mainly on conversation - but if tutor and student agree to do so, they can review some grammar points, and practice any particular skill (speaking, listening, writing or reading).
    • The LMT individual tutorial consists of 10 sessions of 90 minutes each.
    • Being a one-on-one kind of instruction, the tutor and the student choose the best way to make use of their time together. They should use the first meeting to decide how they want to organize the sessions.
  • Conversation Groups
    • The conversation group is focused on conversation.
    • The LMT conversation group consists of 10 sessions of 120 minutes each.
    • A group may have from two to eight students per group.
    • Groups are selected based on the student's experience with the language. If either the student or the tutors find a difference on the language level in their group that may impair the advance of the tutorial, they should inform our office  at once. We will try to relocate the students in different groups or find individual tutors (depending on availability).
    • The tutor has to propose a topic - or let the students choose one- then start the conversation and monitor the language production of the students. That is to say, correct eventual mistakes, help them with the vocabulary, etc.  The tutor might also offer some language explanations if asked, but students have signed up specifically for a conversation tutorial. Topics for conversation could be movie plots, newspaper articles or topics in which the students are particularly interested.


Students should have at least two years of formal instruction (college level) in the language and at least know the main grammatical structures. The objective of the tutorial is to put them into practice, resolve occasional doubts and develop all skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing).

There is no assigned text to be followed for any of our tutorials, but any material that both the tutor and the student find appropriate and interesting may be used. If they agree to do so, they can set up a syllabus or a plan for the sessions. Students should be very clear about their expectations, and tutors should evaluate and discuss whether those expectations are attainable within the Language Maintenance Tutorials, and agree on which would be the more interesting and efficient way to attain them.

They require neither exams nor homework (unless the tutor and students agree to do so).

Students and tutors choose the location where they want to work. Tutorials take place in several places around campus. Graduate student offices or lounges, Butler Library, Business School Library, the Hungarian Pastry Shop and Tom's Kitchen are among the favorites sites.  Given the limited availability of classrooms on campus and the small size of the groups, we can not offer classrooms for any of our tutorials.

  • Based on the information given to us at the time of registration, we make sure that tutors and students can meet at least once a week for a complete session. Students and tutors however are free to rearrange their meeting time to what is more convenient to them.
  • Students and tutors may reschedule with a 48-hour advance notice, if both agree to do so. The student may not cancel at the last minute, unless he/she  plans to forfeit that class session. A student in a conversation group can not reschedule if the other students are able to meet at the regular time. Tutors are expected to be punctual in every scheduled session. Any problems with the tutor's punctuality should be reported as soon as possible to our office.
  • We encourage the tutorials to be finished before the end of each semester. All tutorials should be able to meet 10 weeks (during a 16-weeks semester) without going past the term's end, and if tutors and students agree they can meet more than once in a week. We do not recommend finishing the tutorials in the following term - it is usually very inconvenient for both the tutor and the student.