With more and more people offering to share their valuable knowledge as tutors, those looking for private tuition have the pick of the bunch!
But making the decision on who to hire is not always easy – especially when there so many things to consider.
Some people have a relaxed approach to their search, and don’t have a strong preference to being taught in a tutoring centre or by a home tutor, to name just one example.
In some ways, it helps to have clear preferences, since this will help you narrow down your search.
No matter where you look or who you choose to be your English tutor, the proof of the pudding is definitely in the eating!
In other words, if you put enough work into researching and choosing your tutor, you’ll start to see positive results from the very first session.
The world of one to one tutoring is a diverse one, meaning that each tutor possesses their own unique set of skills which they have gained from experience.
For this reason, it isn’t compulsory for a private English tutor to have a teaching qualification.
However, this does not mean that their tuition will be sub-par by any means.
For instance, many English undergraduates offer their tutoring services to GCSE students who need support with exam technique – something undergrads will have experienced first-hand.
It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons in every aspect of your decision to make sure you follow the path that best suits the needs of the learner.
Having a short chat with each candidate is advised, as you’ll get a feel for their personality – which is important since as compatibility plays a major role in the success of one to one learning.
Here is our advice for anyone about to take their first steps to finding the ideal tutor.
Define Your Criteria for an English Tutor
Every learner is different – and that’s exactly why tutors should be able to adapt to their personal needs.
As you as you begin your search for a tutor, it may strike you how diverse the tutoring community has grown to be.
Tutors comes from all walks of life. Some are retired teachers, others are simply studying English at university, and they will all possess different skills and offer alternative perspectives when it comes to teaching English on a one to one basis.
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.
So, the first step is to define your criteria.
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 are a few examples of factors you may wish to consider:
Private tuition is accessible through many routes.
Some parents choose tutoring centres 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.
Others prefer to welcome tutors into their home and create a relaxed learning environment for the student.
The in-home arrangement is most effective for tutees who have a negative attitude towards the education system, as it shows them that learning can take place without the pressure of speaking up in front of a class and having to compete with other pupils.
Find out other benefits to private tutoring in English!
Another option is online tutoring, which has seen a recent growth in popularity with the rise of new technology.
Online tutoring isn’t so different to 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.
Despite the lessons not being taught in-person, technology allows users to share and view documents with each other, and teachers can even watch their pupils complete quizzes and worksheets – just like in-home tutoring.
Learning with an online tutor does have its benefits. For instance, parents, pupils and tutors alike save a lot of time travelling between each other’s houses.
Price per Lesson
The majority of British families don’t pay for their children’s schooling, so the price of £40 for one hour with certain tutors can come as a shock.
Unfortunately, private tutoring has long been perceived as something reserved for those who can afford such prices. But the market for one to one tuition is changing, and a rise in competition between tutors means lessons are now more accessible than ever!
So, don’t be afraid to set a budget for yourself before you start looking.
Some parents and students look for a tutor for a specific reason.
For example, they may want someone to help with exam preparation in the run-up to GCSE season.
For this kind of tutoring, where the tutor is brought in for a very specific reason, you’ll need to find tutors who can specialise.
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.
So, there’s no need to worry – if you’re on the hunt for a tutor who has the skills to help students overcome obstacles such as dyslexia, rest assured that help is available.
Teaching Experience: How Important is It?
A significant portion of the tutoring community comes from a teaching background.
Be it teaching in a school, sixth form or even lecturing at a university, the wealth of experience shared by qualified teachers makes them attractive for tutees.
On the other hand, however many years of formal teaching experience a teacher possesses, sometimes their skills don’t meet the needs of the student.
Students who feel 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’.
This is where A Level English students and English undergraduates come in.
Since these types of tutors have recent experience of being a student in the school system, they can identify with pupils on a personal level, as well as advise them on effective revision methods, exam technique and essay writing.
When it comes to teaching experience, you should weigh up the pros and cons of each side.
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, tutoring experience is more valuable than formal teaching skills.
We recommend that you ask your potential tutors a few questions before you make a decision, and a question on tutoring experience should be top of the list – no one wants to spend their hard-earned money on an inexperienced tutor.
One of the advantages to finding a tutor through a tutoring company or platform is that they do the work for you, so you should have a good idea of their level of experience before you make first contact, removing some stress from the process.
Contacting Potential Tutors
Once you have found a few tutors you like, you may want to contact each one of them before making a final decision.
Getting in touch over the phone or via email provides an opportunity for you to find out exactly what you need to know about each tutor as well as getting a feel for their personality and whether it would be compatible with that of the learner.
If you need a little inspiration, here are some example questions:
- How much private tutoring experience do you have?
- Can you provide references?
- What relevant qualifications do you hold?
- Do you specialise in any area of English (e.g. GCSE exam preparation)?
- What is your availability?
- How do you usually deliver your lessons?
- Do you already have experience of teaching a child like mine?
These first conversations are crucial in finding out if the tutor is right for you before study begins – so make them count!
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