Is English Tutoring Right for You?

5063530520_ca4c569efbPeople learn languages in many different ways. Some prefer to study alone with books or software like Duolingo. Some take classes. Others learn informally just by listening.

Tutoring is another option. Tutoring is working with a teacher, just the two of you.

Reasons to Work With A Tutor

  • pronunciation work
  • student is shy
  • to help with homework
  • student knows what s/he wants to learn, doesn’t want a curriculum
  • schedule flexibility

Misunderstandings About Tutoring

Tutoring means working one on one with a teacher. It’s like a class with only one student and no grades.

FALSE: My tutor will fix my writing for me!

TRUE: When I tutor, my goal is building your skills. When you bring in a written report or email draft and ask for help with it, I will read it and note what your three biggest types of errors are. We will review those skills together. Then you will fix those in your paper, with guidance from me as needed.

FALSE: I’m getting a tutor! Showing up for one hour every week will make me fluent in English!

TRUE: Tutoring is not magical. Sitting at the same table as your tutor is not going to make you fluent. This will take time and continued effort. A tutor can help you make the most of your time and effort.


Tutoring is not perfect. Here are the main problems I see with tutoring:

  1. it’s very personal… so the student and tutor must like each other
  2. it’s very intensive… you can’t hide in the back of the classroom if you’re tired!
  3. it’s possibly disorganized… sessions are based on student needs and questions, not a methodical curriculum.
  4. it’s expensive

I try to minimize these drawbacks when I tutor:

  1. (personal) With me, the first lesson is always free. You do not have to hire me! If you don’t like my teaching or personality, I will not be a good tutor for you. Find someone else! 
  2. (intensive) During lessons, we work toward your goals with different activities. For example, in pronunciation work, we don’t just repeat sounds for an hour. I use several methods so that you don’t get bored.
  3. (disorganized) I take notes every session. I record what we’re working on, what’s giving you trouble, what’s going well, and what we might do next time. You and I also refer back to your goals frequently so we stay focused as the months go by.
  4. (expensive) If you can get what you need for free from the county, an app, your college, or your friends, you should do that! An experienced private tutor costs money. Is it worth it? You get to decide!

Good luck achieving your goals!

Listen to Emily read this article here. (A new window will open.)

Photo Credit: San Jose Library on Flickr

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