A language mentor does not have to have formal teaching experience. If you are working virtually our outside the Kathmandu Valley, it will be extremely difficult to find a formal tutor or teacher. Thus, a mentor who will guide and aid in your self-taught language journey will be most realistic and helpful in learning colloquial Nepali. As your mentor is your language model, be sure to find a mentor that matches the way you are aspiring to speak. You will be mimicking your mentor in language style and pronunciation, so be mindful of generational gaps, gender*, and locale. How one speaks Nepali in Kathmandu will differ from how one speaks in the rural Terai. Find someone in your community or virtually using the resources below. There is a sizeable population of Nepalese students and immigrants in the US; reach out to your local university and/or local Nepali Association to find a native speaker who may be interested in mentoring.
Pick an individual who will be comfortable identifying your errors correcting you. Nepalese people, in general, are incredibly polite, especially to foreigners. Be clear with your language-learning purpose and encourage your mentor to reject, correct, and modify your language practice. Mentorship is a time consuming process. Make sure your mentor can commit to the time required and that they are compensated appropriately.
Finally, find a mentor that you get along with. There should always be mutual respect in a mentor-student relationship. You will be spending a great amount of time together and this person will be poking and prodding your language abilities. It is of great importance that you feel supported by your mentor in the amazing yet often difficult journey of learning a language.
*Be mindful of cultural norms when it comes to gender interactions. Spending time alone, behind closed doors, with members of the opposite sex is culturally frowned upon and can result in social repercussions for women, whether they are the mentor or the mentee.
iTalki lists available tutors in Nepali language and features their introductory videos about their intentions and ways they are hoping to help the students they will work with. It seems like a mix of both native and non-native Nepali speakers.
University Language Programs
Some universities that offer Nepali language courses also have opportunities to work one-on-one with their Nepali language instructors. Other university programs may have independent study opportunities as well to work with current college Nepali students who act as more of a “Teaching Assistant (TA)” in language study. It could be worth it to reach out to these respective programs about the possibilities to work with an instructor or student as a language mentor.
Yamada Language Center (University of Oregon)
Nepali Language Program (Cornell University)
Nepali Summer Language Program (University of Washington)
Nepali Courses (Harvard University)
Teach for Nepal
Teach for Nepal is an organization in Nepal that is working toward improving the education system in Nepal by employing talented and motivated Nepali youth in government schools across the country. While the TFN fellowship is very time-intensive for two years, most of their teachers are quite young and know English (as some are English teachers in schools!) It could be that returned fellows (TFN alumni) would be open to a language mentorship, as many return and continue jobs in education or other service sectors. Reaching out to someone involved at TFN could be a good place to start.