Learning how to speak English fluently as a non-native speaker is a great opportunity, but nothing can help you improve your English and boost your motivation more than taking your lessons with a private tutor.
However, when it comes to finding the ideal tutor, many learners are left in the dark.
So here is our advice for learners of English for Speakers of Other Languages who are looking for a one to one tutor.
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The Benefits of Private English Lessons
- One to One Sessions vs Group Study
Unlike group lessons, private tuition means that students benefit from the full, undivided attention of their tutor and have the opportunity to ask as many questions as they please.
Private tutoring means that lessons can be adapted to the learning pace of the individual student rather than that of a class.
Depending on the level at which you study English, your tutor will be able to teach you according to your needs as well as your learning objectives.
Tutors can build on your current knowledge as well as support you alongside your learning in school or university, keeping track of your progress with regular spelling and English grammar quizzes.
These small tests and quizzes will help your tutor identify your strengths as well as your weaknesses, and use them as a basis for future lessons.
By doing this, tutors are able to create a tailored learning plan just for you.
As you will be alone with your tutor, there will be no pressure to perform well in front of other students and there are no silly questions! This calm atmosphere will help you feel more relaxed towards learning.
- Being Tutored vs Teaching Yourself
The first positive aspect of private tuition is that, unlike teaching yourself a language, you have someone at your side to help you improve your pronunciation and spot any mistakes.
English is flourishing as a language, and practicing regularly will help you get used to how it works so that you can use it confidently in day-to-day life.
When it comes to learning a language, the number 1 rule is simple: Use it or Lose it.
Taking lessons with a private English tutor can help close the gap between your level of written English and your oral language skills.
When you start to learn common phrases or idiomatic expressions from the English language, you can practice using them in context with your tutor. Using new words is the best way to memorise them for the future.
Your tutor will be in a good position to suggest useful learning resources for your level which could help you immensely.
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This is just one of the advantages to learning English with a private tutor. You benefit from their know-how as well as their teaching experience in their discipline so that by the end of your course, you will be able to communicate, discuss and debate fluently in English.
Certified English Teacher or Undergraduate?
There are no real rules for those wishing to become a tutor, which is why it’s so attractive for many university students.
But how do you know what to look for in your search for the ideal tutor? Tutors, especially tutors who teach English, come from all backgrounds. Some are trained school teachers, while others study their subject at university.
In the case of English tutors, there are also many native English speakers who are willing to help others learn to speak English as a second language.
- University Students
Students are often good at teaching younger pupils as they can identify with their learning journey and tend to be closer in age to their learners than many other tutors.
For this reason, their approach is often closer to the school syllabus, and they will easily be able to help their pupil familiarise themselves with what examiners are looking for.
Undergrads are also in the perfect position to help learners with revision tactics to learn to conjugate tricky verbs, for example.
- Qualified Teachers
Of course, teachers have a wealth of experience and an expertise that students do not yet have.
Teachers know what their pupils are looking for and hoping to achieve even before the first session, and they also know what topics are coming up that their student may struggle with.
Armed with this useful knowledge, teachers can prepare their lessons and their pupils for any tough points that may come up and put measures in place to support their student should they be faced with any obstacles.
As professionals, qualified teachers know where to find the best grammar exercises and worksheets to support you throughout your learning.
- The Decision is Up to the Student
Ultimately, it is the student who chooses their tutor.
Aside from choosing within their price range, the student will prefer someone who can easily adapt to their needs and removes the pressure from learning.
While some feel more reassured by the experienced of certified teachers, but others prefer being able to identify with younger tutors who are still in education themselves.
Essential Qualities of Your Ideal ESOL Tutor
In order to get the most out of your English courses in London or elsewhere around the UK, you need to optimise your lessons.
There are a few ways to achieve this, including:
- Take stock of your needs
It may seem obvious, but from the very first English lesson with your tutor it is important that both you and your tutor are aware of where you currently stand.
This will help the tutor plan future lessons and provide appropriate learning material.
- Decide which topics you would like to cover in your lessons
Would you like to improve your vocabulary? Or what about revising conjugation, literacy and listening comprehension or use of tenses? Whether you would like to work on the technical side of English, or you’d prefer to practice your British accent and learn about slang, your tutor will be able to help you with this.
- Remember to use your English outside of your lessons
The more you speak in English and practice your writing skills, the more natural it will feel for you.
So why not watch films and TV shows in English or get stuck into some good English literature?
So What Makes a Good Tutor?
Good ESOL teachers are professional and have native or nearly native abilities in speaking English, which they share with their students using an effective methodology.
When it comes to grammar, high-quality tutors will teach each topic when it becomes relevant to the learner, rather than handing out grammar rules to learn by heart.
Teachers should also make sure that their lessons cover all aspects of English equally. This means not focussing on vocabulary too much, but also concentrating on written expression, oral skills and listening skills.
No aspect of language learning should be neglected.
The best tutors speak as much English as possible during their sessions to encourage their students to interact in the language so that using English feels more natural.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the tutee is having trouble with a particular point and they cannot understand the English explanation, it is appropriate for the tutor to briefly switch to the native language of their student.
While you practice your spoken English, your tutor should let you explain yourself without interrupting with corrections. Good tutors will prefer to take notes while their student is speaking, do discuss corrections afterwards.
The most important points for developing good English speaking proficiency is that the student feels motivated to practice their spoken English and feels free to express themselves in their foreign language.
Encouraging learners to want to learn English will boost their confidence, which leads to improved English fluency.
Your tutor will give you homework to complete after your lessons. This could be a text to read, or a vocabulary list.
The very best of tutors will have brilliant English pronunciation which the learner can mimic to improve their own. This is an essential part of developing a good English accent.
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Where to Look for the Best ESOL Tutors to Teach You How to Speak English
It is important to be thorough in your search for your ideal ESOL tutor.
- Local Adverts
Keep an eye on advertising in newspapers and on notice boards in your local area.
Home tutors often advertise where their hometowns where they know they can travel to students’ houses to deliver their lessons.
However, the downside of local adverts for teaching English is that you cannot always be sure that you are getting the best deal.
Available tutors may not have the necessary level of qualification to suit your needs, or their hourly rate may be too high for your budget.
Whatever happens, you should take care when registering an interest in these tutors. If their telephone number or email address is on their advert, don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more about their offer.
Or better still, you could arrange to meet them in person. This gives you the opportunity to see how you get along before committing to tuition.
- Tutoring Agencies
The advantage of using tutoring companies to find an English tutor is that the employees look after your specific case, including your needs and goals.
The hourly charge is set by the agency, who checks the details of each family as well as the qualifications of their tutors. The match tutors with tutees based on availability, level of study and goals.
Tutors are often monitored by their agencies and have to report on the progress of their students.
Although this procedure can reassure parents and students, it can be tedious for the tutors, who may not feel free to apply their own methodology in their teaching. Learn about taking ESOL courses as an adult as well here.
- Social Media and Word of Mouth
Why not ask your friends, teachers and colleagues for advice on finding the best English tutor for you?
The advantage to looking within your own social circles is that you know and trust those who advise you.
- Websites and Platforms
There are many tutoring websites on the World Wide Web which all offer a different perspective on the market for private tutoring.
Some websites focus on the teaching of foreign languages, while others are more generalist.
Most of the time, the teams working behind each of these websites filter through tutors by asking them to complete a profile displaying their specialities, availability, and the rates they charge.
This enables platforms to only advertise tutors who are serious about sharing their knowledge.
Just as you should with local tutors, we recommend that prospective students get in contact and schedule a meeting with tutors before choosing a tutor for the long term. Learn how long it will take to learn English here.