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What Qualifications do you need to Become an English Tutor?

By Joseph, published on 24/07/2017 Blog > Languages > ESOL (English) > Are Qualifications Needed to Teach English as a Tutor?

Wanting to give private tutorials and having the level to do so are two different things. Don’t forget that motivation is also hugely important. However, the most important thing is knowing the subject you’re teaching!

Not only will you need a good profile to find customers, you’ll need to show off to potential customers that you have the necessary English skills for teaching English courses.

How can you prove your proficiency and show potential customers that you know the English language inside out, including grammar, vocabulary, speaking, and reading and writing?

There are plenty of English tests, diplomas, and certificates you can use to differentiate yourself from other English speakers and we tend to talk about a handful of the most common ones that are recognised all over the world.

Of course, depending on the kind of learner you’re going to provide English courses to, the qualifications you’ll need will be different.

Teaching English to primary school children is completely different to teenagers and adults, of course and at home private tutorials, like every other business, are susceptible to fierce competition.

Don’t forget that in this market, customers will compare the various tutors in terms of their rates and their abilities in English and thanks to the internet, they have the means to do so very easily.

TOEFL, TOEIC, GMAT: Which English Exam Should Your Choose?

Nowadays students are more familiar with the various international qualifications. In particular, the TOEFL, TOEIC, and GMAT are well know around the world.

In fact, national qualifications aren’t often as well known or respected as the international ones. Even Europe-wide exams aren’t commonly used or known and a number of these are usually only nationwide and considered to be more trouble than they’re worth to the candidates.

The certificates from international organisations and English universities tend to generate a lot of interest and renown. They’re considered more authentic and precious because they’re from English-speaking institutions!

In most cases, whatever exam you choose will test your abilities.

Where can I take the TOEFL exam? There are free practice tests available online. (Source: Visual Hunt)

The TOEFL, for example, is exclusively for those who aren’t native English speakers. This exam mainly focuses graduate-level speakers.

The test is operated by ETS (Educational Testing Service) out of Princeton University and comes in the form of a multiple-choice exam.

Candidates are tested on four key skills: reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

You can take the test in a number of ways: on paper (PBT, out of 677 points) or on the Internet (iBT, out of 120 points). The iBT replaced the CBT (an offline version taken on computers which was replaced around 2006).

It’ll also cost you at least £100 for a three-to-four-hour exam.

There’s no pass or fail but rather a score that puts you on a percentile scale against the various other candidates who also took the test.

The TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) is another of ETS’ tests. This exam is more focused on professional and business English.

There are two main papers: Listening and Reading (2 hours) and Speaking and Writing (1 hour 20 minutes).

The first is out of 990 whereas the second is out of 400. The candidates are given a colour grade: gold, blue, green, brown, and orange. Gold is the best and orange the worst.

This qualification is particularly appreciated by companies, especially in Asia. Some even take very seriously when it comes to recruiting their employees.

The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) focuses on management or business school students who are wanting to complete an MBA or post-graduate studies in business. For this exam, candidates are tested on reading and listening and then graded on a scale out of 800.

English-speaking Experience

As you can probably tell, the GMAT exam wouldn’t be necessary for those wanting to teach English privately (don’t worry if you’ve already got one, though!).

On the other hand, the TOEIC is a good indicator of a person’s language ability when it comes to professional private tutorials, especially when teaching business English.

The TOEFL is probably the best option for anyone who’s just finished their degree and would like to earn some extra cash for the end of the month by teaching private English tutorials to children and other students.

Where can I study in the UK? Imagine spending a semester in one of the UK’s finest universities. (Source: Unsplash)

We should probably mention the British Council’s IELTS exam since it’s the most popular English language exam in the world with millions of candidates sitting it every year. This exam is also useful for those looking to ascertain visas in English-speaking countries as it’s widely accepted by most immigration authorities as proof of someone’s English level.

There are various Cambridge exams for all ages and abilities. Children can take the Cambridge Young Learner Exams (YLE) when they’re at school and while they probably won’t get them a job in later life, they will prepare them for the Cambridge exam format when moving on to the exams for adults.

As for adults, there are exams ranging from A2 through to C2 CEFR levels. You should certainly do a level test before signing up for each particular level as they’re not the cheapest exams to sit and it would be horrible showing up to an exam that’s far too easy or far too difficult.

Again, you have to think long and hard about why you want a certificate to prove your level in English and subsequently choose the one that best suits your needs. However, you should never forget that all of these qualifications are internationally recognised and look great on your CV, too!

When it comes to providing English tutorials, you have to highlight them well in order to get your first customers. Once you’ve given a few quality tutorials, your clients will stay and spread the word. Soon your English course will be the most popular in the area and you’ll have a group of loyal customers.

Tutoring Jobs for Native English Speakers

Being bilingual inspires confidence. Especially those born in an English-speaking country.

Those who were born in English-speaking countries definitely have an advantage when it comes to teaching private English tutorials, be it to children, teenagers, or adults. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably need to consider getting the qualifications in another language.

However, you can’t just rely on where you were born. You need to also mention where else you’ve been.

Thanks to globalisation, it’s becoming more and more common to come across people who’ve studied abroad or lived in English-speaking countries.

Are English Teaching Qualifications Needed?

You don’t technically need a degree in order to teach English privately though you do have to learn English, of course.

A degree does tend to come in handy for those who want to work as a private tutor since to study English at a university, you need to have a certain degree of fluency, a variety of writing skills, and an in-depth understanding of spoken general English.

It’s usually expected that you’ve completed your university studies or at least have similar academic experience in order to certify your language skills.

If you didn’t go to university, you will be expected to have at least taken English classes at an English school or have some kind of language learning background.

To teach any given subject, you should have at least a degree in it.

On the other hand, if you want to work in schools, you’ll need at least some post-graduate education, usually in teaching or similar. However, you don’t for teaching private tutorials.

Professional Experience Counts

When we were talking earlier about “native” speakers, we were referring to those who were either born or grew up in an English-speaking country or were born to English-speaking parents.

This means that not everyone can be a native speaker. It’s just the luck of the draw. However, there are actions you can take if this isn’t the case.

Gaining professional experience, for example.

Is the job market saturated?

Why not head off to the UK or the US and work on gaining valuable experience until things get better?

Professional experience in an English-speaking country can be hugely beneficial. Especially if this comes with English-language immersion and intense study.

It’s great for your CV and is a way round having to sit one of the exams we were talking about earlier.

Which are the best professional English exams? Don’t you fancy learning professional English and furthering your career? (Source: StockSnap)

This mightn’t work for everyone, though.

The first thing you have to do is think about what the people want. If you want to work as a teacher in a school, you’re going to have to sit exams and get a degree.

If you want to teach private tutorials, you don’t technically need anything. You can teach primary school children without any qualifications. However, it’ll be different if you want to start teaching teenagers.

The TOEFL or TOEIC exam are highly recommended for those wanting to teach adult or professional students.

Spending time working and living in an English-speaking country can go a long way. It’s not just great for learning the language. You can also learn about the country and its culture while teaching others…


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