How to choose a Good English tutor
ESL | Questions Kids Ask | Teaching | Teaching English | TEFL

How to choose a Good English Tutor: a Teachers Viewpoint

Trusting your children’s education is something all parents do everyday when dropping them off at the school gates. We trust that the teachers are qualified, the school is a safe environment, that the subjects and topics they learn will be appropriate and useful. When choosing a good English tutor, or any tutor, for our children we have to take on some of these responsibilities for ourselves.

Ensuring you choose a good English tutor for your children will come down to a number of factors. These include seeking references and recommendations, choosing a reputable provider, holding interviews, recruiting highly qualified and experienced tutors.

Whether you are choosing a tutor for yourself or for your children it can be a little over whelming if you have never employed someone directly, or if have no experience in Education. in the article below we will cut through the jargon and offer some tips and information to help make this easier.

We are a site run by teachers and can help you decide what is more important for yourself and or your children before you get to the hiring stage.

We have also researched what other learners and parents consider important when they have hired tutors for both themselves and for their children which will help you realize your concerns and thoughts are valid and that you are not alone with these worries!

How to choose a Good English tutor

Do you need an English tutor for your children?

There are hundreds of reasons why people seek one on one or small group private tuition for all subjects including English. Below are some of the main reasons why people reach out to get some additional help from Good English tutors with their language learning.

The reasons people hire English tutors can include: helping struggling and stronger students, targeting English for specific purposes like employment and to allow people to further practice the English they have already learnt. Hiring an English tutor allows a flexibility not found in set English courses.

Schools are unable to cater for your children well enough.Schools are busy, which is not an excuse, but the chance of one on one tuition is hugely reduced.
Tutors can help provide to both the more and less able
. It might be that your children may need a little more
time to develop their language skills ( at any age) where a few weeks of tuition may help to bring them up to speed.

Similarly it may be, and this happened to me with my French studies, they have developed a little ahead of their class
and are becoming distracted or bored in their school English lessons
. Offering some more challenging activities
with a tutor could show you recognize their needs and are trying to meeting them.
Developing Important English SkillsHere on this site we put a lot of focus on reading. It is the gateway to communication and development
of a love of language. A good English tutor will be able to assess these essential skills like grammar, reading,
phonics and more you or your children need some help with and focus on those.

This will help develop confidence both in and out of the classroom. There are resources for these
on the site if you want to try these yourself or with your children first. Just follow the link.
1 to 1 time with an English tutor.If your children or you pay for a course at a local college it is likely you will be with other students This certainly can have great advantages to practice and make friends. However sometimes you may need some 1 to 1 attention, or if you don’t learn well in a group a tutor can be an alternative to group learning.
Practice with a native speakerIf your children or yourself are living in a non English speaking country you may feel you would benefit from 1 on 1 tuition with a native English speaker. Although there are questions about how essential this is (which you can read about here) It is possible to hire a tutor from English speaking countries. However this should probably not be your most important factor.
Learn targeted English for your workIf you are looking for business English or occupation specific English then a specialized tutor may be a good way of targeting exactly what you need. However make sure you clearly explain your needs to the tutor to make sure they are a good fit.
Prepare for a move to an English speaking CountryIf you are moving to an English speaking country you may want to both learn English and learn a little about the country you are moving to. You may need to know some of the slang that is used there, or some of the cultural differences. For topics this specific it could definitely be of benefit to consider hiring a tutor.
FlexibilityCourses in the evening are set in time. you will have to attend at that time or choose another course. Tutors give you a flexibility to choose when you are free and to learn when you want not to a set timetable.
How to choose a Good English tutor

Should You Choose An Online Or Face To Face English Tutor?

Although important questions surrounding experience, qualifications and personality are equally important for both there are some differences and considerations you need to think about before you hire an English Tutor.

If you are in a remote area or an area with limited people you may decide to go online to find a tutor and the choices are huge, and still growing.

We have even considered offering tuition to groups here on Making English Fun. To decide if you want to hire a local / face to face tutor or an online English Tutor you can consider the following:

  • Price: Face to face will often ( not always) be more expensive than online
  • Choice: Unless you are living in a huge city like Hong Kong or London your options for face to face might be limited. Online will always have hundreds.
  • Natural learning: If one thing the pandemic has taught us ( and it has taught us so much) is that learning is better face to face. We are humans and interaction helps us learn. Zoom works, face to face works better.
  • You are shy or there are cultural issues: then online means you can learn in the comfort of your own home.
  • You don’t want to meet outside or bring a stranger home: Then online lets you avoid doing this.
  • If you learn better in groups: Then both options can work for you, there are often, and again increasing in number, tutorial centers that will offer one to one or small group teaching.

What To Look For In A Good English Tutor

There are a number of considerations to factor in when you are choosing a good English tutor for yourself or your children. We highlight these considerations below.

A good English tutor will be experienced, qualified, knowledgeable and adaptable. They will be able to address the differences between a student’s wants and needs and provide effective and engaging English lessons that enable the student to achieve both. All undertaken in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Is Experience Important When Choosing An English Tutor?

A good English tutor will have taught before – extensively. In our (teachers) opinion this is one of the most important factors. An experienced teacher will be able to adapt approach and material to their students to fulfil their needs.

They will be able to plan fun and interactive tasks so its not just repetition and rote learning. (most of which you can get from YouTube) They will also be able to plan your progression and give you goals to work on for each week or each month. This allows you to monitor your own progress and gain confidence as you learn.

An experienced English Tutor (or any tutor) while more expensive to start with, should, be able to help you achieve your aims more effectively. This may reduce the time you need to hire them and even save you money in the long term.

How to choose a Good English tutor

Are Qualifications Important When Choosing An English Tutor?

English teaching qualifications are important, but the most qualified doesn’t always means the best English tutor. Teaching children doesn’t need a university professor, and learning business English doesn’t need a kindergarten teacher. Match your learning aims with a tutors qualifications and experience.  

Qualifications with English due to its popularity, are increasingly in variety. The gold standard would be a Bachelor’s or Masters in English / Education or Tefl. Although for tutoring this may not be needed, if you have children working through curriculums then a Teacher with both experience and qualification in that will most certainly help.

If you are beginning in English , or your children are, you can be sure that a tutor with a Celta ( which is the Cambridge teaching Qualification) or the trinity TESOL (Which is the qualification for teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) will be more than enough.

If you are looking for someone, perhaps a native speaker, to practice English with then you can try either a friend or a colleague which will be cheaper. Although for actual tuition we would recommend a tutor, as they will be more likely to assess your abilities and requirements.

Rapport Between Student and Tutor

Rapport means how well you or your children get on with your tutor. Although as important as both experience and qualifications it is more difficult to check.

Students don’t learn from teachers they don’t like

Rita Pierson

To find out if you have a rapport with a English tutor you will have to meet them. This may be online, where the larger companies often offer a trial lesson, or face to face for a discussion or an interview. ( we will give you some questions and answers further down the page.

It is important to develop a relationship, from both side, to make the learning experience not only much more pleasant but much more useful. If you are hiring a tutor for yourself you need to be able to be comfortable talking to them, and asking questions. If it is your children they have to enjoy their time constructively during that lesson time as well. As well as meeting and trying a lesson you can also ask for reviews, recommendations and ask to speak to other students as well. Which we cover later in this list.

How to choose a Good English tutor

How Much Does An English Tutor Cost?

As with most things in life you pay for what you get. However this does not mean the most expensive tutor will be the best, and the cheapest will not be the worst. There are lots of good English tutors who will do it for less just because they enjoy it, or they have retired and are just doing it for a little extra income.

English tutor costs vary wildly depends on purpose, method of delivery, teaching qualifications and experience. These prices can range from 5-10 USD to upwards of 300 USD an hour. For most general purposes prices around 20-30 dollars per hour or lesson are common and discounts may apply with bulk lessons.

Some of the larger tutoring companies will offer discounts for a set number of hours ( usually 10), or you could hire a super tutor for eyewatering amounts (these guys are usually selling exam cramming or specialized topics.

However as our graph below shows the price you pay is not high on peoples factors when they come to choose a tutor.

As for actual cost this will MASSVIELY depends on where in the world you are living, it is possible to spend 300 USD an hour here in Hong Kong, but i know for a fact that in Malaysia, or online that same hour can be bought for 15 dollars or less. It will also be less in other places in the world.

Basically your budget is your budget, but don’t worry if you don’t have hundreds of dollars to throw at this, you will be able to find a good English tutor for a reasonable price.

If it is a problem you could consider pairing up with someone else who wants to learn English, or grouping your children with some friends. This means you can share the cost between you all.

Where Should I Have My English Lessons?

This depends if you are looking for online, which is simply answered as you will be at home on your computer. If you are looking for face to face it may be that they come to you, you go to them or you meet in the middle somewhere.

All of these have merits. If you learn in your own home you can reduce travelling time, but make sure you have a quiet place to do the lesson.

If this is not possible some tutors teach from their own homes where they will have all their resources.

Or you could arrange to meet outside. However, despite what appears like Starbucks, costa coffee and all the others looking like a university they are not always the best places to study, or practice English. A quiet study room , or study section of a library if you have access to one may be better.

A word on safety: If you are meeting a tutor for the first time then make sure other people know where you are going, and arrange for someone to pick you up if you can after the lesson.

If you are sending children it will be better if you can accompany them to the learning center, Unless you know the tutor very well you should consider if sending them to their house is suitable or not. As teachers we avoid 1-1 situations as much as possible to both protect ourselves and our students.

you will notice that good learning centers will have large windows and class doors on classrooms or study rooms to help with this protection.

english tutor

What Does An English Tutor Teach?

It is important before starting your lessons to check with the tutor to discuss what aspects of English you are looking to fcus on and to make sure it is somehtign they can deliver.

If you are looking for business English, or English for a specific profession it is better to find out at the beginning if your English tutor can deliver this. Similarly if you are hiring a tutor for your children then knowing if the tutor is familiar with the topics and curriculum of their school will be beneficial.

If you go through a learning center or an online tutoring service it is very likely they will a choice of courses you can choose from. These make things easier but are often a scatter gun approach and may cover aspects of English already known to you or your children.

As a rule of thumb all professional English teachers should be able to adapt their resources, methods and materials to fit multiple purposes and should be able to teach general English.

How To Find a Good English Tutor?

A quick google search will find you hundreds of options on the internet ( it also brought you here! ) These are likely to be learning centers in your area and large tutoring companies.

These are fine, and will give you the options of both online or face to face. However generally speaking these will be less adaptable and will have a course or curriculum they would prefer you to follow. They often cater for large numbers more than individuals

They also will, again as a rule, hire the less qualified and less experienced tutors out there to help with their costs. That doesn’t make them better or worse but it is something to keep in mind.

If you are looking to hire your own tutor directly there are a few ways you can do this, local newspapers will sometimes have adverts in for tutoring, as will local Facebook groups, or parents groups, You can seek recommendations from these from people who have already hired a tutor.

If you have colleges or universities near you then checking out the notice boards of these, or even putting up your own advert to request a tutor may get you either a high level student or even a teacher who is interested in doing a little work out side of their day job.

Most Common Considerations When Hiring an English Tutor.

We asked our Facebook groups which of the following considerations they thought was their most important factor when choosing a tutor.

We gave the options as Experience, Qualifications, Rapport, Price and Location, and after the graph we will explore each option.

As you can see The top two factors for most English students and parents were Experience and qualification.

10 Questions To Ask An English Teacher (and some answers to listen for)

It is important to interview or talk to any potential tutors both if they are for you or for your children. Both for safety and efficiency reasons. If you are used to interviewing people this will not be not to much of a challenge, but if its your first time we have some questions to ask , and answers to listen out for.

What are your qualifications?Obviously a teaching Degree or similar is better, and listen out for the following
– Bachelors or Masters level qualifications in Education.
– DELTA,CELTA, or TRINITY TESOL which are teaching qualifications for teaching
to speakers of other languages ( transferable of course)
– Royal College of teachers Cert Tesol – A similar qualification to the two above.
There are also (hundreds) of other TESOL qualifications, however the three above
are the most well known.

Can you tell me about your teaching experience?If you have asked for a CV then you will have some idea of the
experience your gained. If not you should listen for experience
that relates to your needs.
If you are recruiting for children you can ask them
what kind of games and activities they will use, and ask for demonstrations.
If looking for adult tutors then ask them to discuss how they met their students needs and if they are ok telling students what is realistic or not also ask them about their successes with students .
How much do you charge for tutoring?Although its probably better to ask this before you ever meet, it is important to make sure both
sides are comfortable with the price. At interview you could also ask if there are any discounts if
you have more than one lessons, or for longer lessons.
Can you show me some materialsIt is useful to ask this to see what type of resources they will use with you or
your children. If it is a centre on online provider they will have loads.
You will want them to have some ideas for you, but a good answer is
also that they will develop the as per your needs.
What is a achievable target for 10 hours of lessonsThis allows you to see how they will plan to progress you during the lessons.
A good English teacher will be able to give you a rough aim( that they can improve)
of how much you can achieve in those lessons.
What can I do outside of the tutoring lessons. This question allows you to get some solid advice on how to practice and solidify
the information you get in your English lessons. A good tutor will have a set
of ideas you can do outside of the lesson to help your or your children’s progress.
Logistics and cancellationMake sure you are happy with the English tutors cancellation or make up lesson policy.
You don’t want surprises later. Also you should check where and how long these lessons will be.
You should also ask the policy for canceling all lessons if you don’t want to continue with the tutor as
well. Flexibility is what you are looking for here.
Can you tell me about successes you have had. This is an experience question and you are looking for some evidence that they have
had successful tutoring before. this could be guided a student to so well
on an exam, or to feel more confidence at school or in their job.
How will you know if we are progressing. A good English tutor will be able to give you pointers on monitoring success,
both how they will do it and how you can monitor your or your childs own success as well.
This is important to help improve confidence and enthusiasm, we all want to
know we are progressing!
What so I need to do before each lesson. Ask the tutor if they will tell you what needs preparing before each lesson.
Tutors charge by the hour and the more time on actual teaching the better. It also
shows if they are already thinking of a plan for your lessons.

choose an english tutor

Will An English Tutor Help Me Learn English

The simple answer is yes, but the tutor or teacher is only half the recipe. As I tell my students education is not a one way street. They will get out of it what they put it in. The same applies to you .

An English tutor can hep you develop the skills and tools you will need to progress and improve your English. Students need to be aware that language learning is a skill and that the more they can practice and develop those skills, with the help of a tutor, the more progress they will make.

An English tutor can show you the way and help you along it but, and we cant emphasis this enough, your progress is going to be 90% you and 10 % them.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to think about before hiring someone who you will have a close contact with. Hopefully the tips above have helped with some of the things you should consider before.

Remember that the most important consideration is your safety. So make sure if meeting face to face that it is in a public area, or that people know where you are going.

If there is the opportunity for demo lessons it is well worth trying these. Not every tutor will suit you, and it gves both sides a chance to decide if they can move forward together to improve your English!

Which ever way you go we wish you luck on your English journey.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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