The world of private tuitions is saturated. More and more talented and highly trained professionals are ready to offer their valuable knowledge as tutors.
But, how do you, as the student, make the correct choice? What are the deciding parameters while choosing your English tutor?
Different students may have different learning needs and preferences, based on which they would want to make their private tuition choices. It helps to have clear preferences since this will help you narrow down your search.
Some students and their parents, especially, put in a lot of effort into researching and choosing a tutor. This is because they believe that investing in a good tutor can make or break the student's future in academics.
It is not a qualifying criterion for a private tutor to have a teaching degree. There have been many cases in which tutors have been exceptional in their teaching even without such a degree. The reverse has also been true in some cases.
For instance, many English undergraduates offer their tutoring services to ICSE or CBSE students who need support with exam technique – something undergrads will have experienced first-hand.
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Compatibility plays a crucial role in deciding the results of a student-teacher relationship. Therefore, it is advisable to have a brief chat with each shortlisted candidate before taking your pick.
Have Your Own Selection Criteria
The point of private tutoring is that it is about the learner and tailoring teaching to their specific needs, so setting out the requirements for what makes a tutor ‘ideal’ for you should be done with the learner in mind.
List everything that is important to you when it comes to choosing a tutor.
This could include anything from their level of qualification to their hourly rate. Here is a list of possible criteria you can consider.
The first trait of any good tutor is adaptability. The learning needs of each student varies and a private tutor should be able to adapt his/ her learning styles to these needs.
The tutoring community comprises people from all walks fo life, from different socio-cultural as well as professional backgrounds. They possess different skills and offer alternative perspectives when it comes to teaching English on a one to one basis.
As you already are aware, private tuitions are offered in many forms in India. There are coaching centres, where small batches of students sign up for extra lessons, crash courses etc. Then there are home tutors who teach at the student's home. At the same time, there are home tutors who hold classes in the privacy of their own home.
Coaching centres are preferred by parents who wish to maintain a healthy distance between learning and leisure at home so that children see the academic support as a part of their education, rather than as an interruption to their home life.
For a more relaxed learning environment for the student, the second option may be more suitable.
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Another option is online tutoring, which has seen a recent growth in popularity with the rise of new technology. There is a growing trend for online tutoring services in India, especially English teachers for Class 10 as that is considered the first stepping stone towards a designated career path for any student.
Online tutoring isn’t so different from home tutoring in that it is delivered on a one on one basis, however, since tutors and their students can be thousands of miles apart, they use a webcam and microphone to communicate.
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Cost of Lessons
Private tutoring fees can range from as low as INR 400/hour up to INR 1500/hour and sometimes even higher, depending on the urgency of the student's needs, the number of days/week and such other parameters.
Set a budget for yourself before you start looking. Remember, there is plenty of talent out there. So your persistence is sure to bear fruit.
Some parents are in desperate need of tutors who can not only offer their subject matter expertise but also become an empath and address an exceptional learning need of the student.
Specialist tutors are available, for example, to prepare students for exams in the run-up to the Boards.
This is also the case for many parents of pupils living with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, which make studying English particularly challenging.
Luckily, tutors who either specialise in teaching pupils with SpLDs or have experience in it are more common than you’d expect. All you have to do is search online and help will be on its way!
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The Tricky Question About Teaching Experience
As already mentioned earlier, a significant number of private tutors hail from a non-teaching background, though they are still in the minority. There are two sides to this coin.
Be it teaching in a school or at a university, the wealth of experience shared by qualified teachers makes them attractive for students, especially their parents.
On the other hand, teaching experience might not translate to the teaching styles that a pupil is seeking in order to meet his/ her learning needs. There is an increasing trend towards opting for private tutors in India.
Students who feel pressured and disillusioned by their school life may benefit from a tutor who can identify with them as a learner within the education system rather than someone who they view as ‘just another school teacher’.
Enter the college undergraduate who is more of a friend and a listener than just another teacher appointed to impose the parents' wishes on the shoulders of the young student. College students can become personal confidantes while doubling up as a teacher. Personalized teaching gets even more personal!
It’s important to bear in mind that teaching a class of 30 is quite different from delivering one to one tuition, so in many ways, the tutoring experience is more valuable than formal teaching skills.
In India, tutoring agencies have mushroomed all across cities. The advantage of enlisting their help is that they do the screening and research work for you. Following the shortlist provided by the agency, you should be able to move on to the decision-making stage.
The Interview Process
Now, you can start interviewing potential tutoring candidates. But, you are still lacking in a list of pertinent questions that will set the ball rolling. Check out this list we have put together as pointers.
Putting in a prior phone call before setting up a personal interview might also be a good starting point. Your list of questions can include the following:
- Prior tutoring experience, if any.
- References, if any.
- Relevant qualifications of the potential candidate.
- Any particular area of specialization - ICSE, CBSE, IB schools, SpLDs etc.
- Frequency of classes.
- Location of classes - whether at a student's home or at the tutor's home.
Prepare a comprehensive list of questions that are at once relevant and insightful. Remember, the private tutor you choose will be your guiding light for a good portion of your school year. Choose wisely!