All over the world, there are English tutors offering their services. “Learn English with a Native Speaker!” We see their advertisements. There is a phone number to call. Their fees for teaching are expensive, and we pay them because learning English is so important to us, right? So the question is, how do you know if your tutor is any good?
Is your English teacher any good?
Finding a tutor is easy, but finding a good English tutor is a different question! Before you hire a private tutor to learn English, here are the questions you should ask to know if you can learn English from them.
What teaching experience do you have?
Teaching the English language is not something just anybody can do. Being born in a particular country does not make a person good at teaching the language. Yet, this is the top qualification many tutors will tell you.
Before you commit to hiring a person to teach you, ask about how many years they have taught. Ask about who they taught. Teaching children is very different from teaching adults. Teaching a different language does not mean one can teach English.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to properly examine experience unless you have the time and ability to contact references to verify their background. If we learned anything from Parasite, it’s how easy it is to lie to get hired as a good tutor.
If this seems discouraging, you can find a teacher at PrepEng.com. They go through an extensive background check and are vetted throughout a training process to make sure they are capable and prepared.
What professional ESL training do you have?
Training comes in many forms for teachers. Initially teachers complete a teacher certification course. In the United States, this is a degree in education, leading to licensure. In the United Kingdom, this is a QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) or PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). Some English teachers have Masters degrees in English or Applied Linguistics. Finally, there are English as a Second Language (ESL) specific qualifications like the DELTA (most advanced), CELTA, TESOL, and TEFL (beginner qualifications).
So, which qualification is best? Honestly, it’s hard to say, because you will find good teachers with the least verified training (TEFL), and bad teachers with DELTAs. Still, a teacher with some training is better than one with none. This is because training is essential to teaching. Would you hire a lawyer who didn’t believe in the law? Good teachers will believe in education, not just for students but for themselves also.
All teachers with PrepEng.com have initial certifications, but also engage in ongoing training. Becoming a teacher is not a one-time process, it is continuous and life-long.
What teaching material do you use?
Picture this: your English tutor arrives, with 10 worksheets. Each worksheet looks different and was clearly printed off the internet. Imagine the planning that went on before your class.
Here’s how it went. Your tutor remembered at the last minute that they had to prepare for class. They tried to remember what you did the week before. They do a quick Google search and download some PDFs. That’s it.
Is that the kind of preparation that is good enough to teach you a language? It’s not, and here’s why.
Teaching English is much more complex than finding materials. A good teacher will consider what the purposes of class are, and then he or she will find materials to support that. Each lesson should have a clear communication objective, and not revolve around rote grammar practice.
How do you teach English?
Asking the “how” question may make some tutors go wide-eyed with uncertainty. That is a bad sign! Run away! If your English tutor cannot explain their position on teaching, it means they probably have no position.
Let me elaborate. There are many methods to teach a language. Some are teacher-centered – the most common being “direct instruction.” This is typical in lectures or large classrooms. Teachers have all the knowledge and pass it to the students. Then, students go home and do homework. There is also the grammar-translation method. This is all about memorizing grammar and vocabulary rules.
At PrepEng.com, the learning method focuses on communicative language teaching (CLT). CLT is about being able to communicate in various situations by developing the four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Grammar and vocabulary are learned at the student’s pace through flipped instruction. This means the students study these topics on their own and then practice them in live classrooms through communication activities.
What is your learning assessment strategy?
Assessment is so important to learning! It’s more than just grades though – it’s a process in which the student and the teacher think about what was learned.
Good English teachers will assess students after every class. This can look like a note about what you did well and what you need to practice. There may be some big assessments which often come in the form of a test, but we know that tests aren’t always accurate of a students’ ability.
At PrepEng.com, you will receive feedback from your teacher after every class. Even better, you can give feedback about what you want to learn and what you did or did not understand. It’s a two-way street for the teachers and the students!
People learn English in many ways. What’s your way?
Consider how you want to learn English. Do you want to study at your own pace or do you want to have someone teach you on a schedule? Do you want a conversation class or do you want to learn grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills? Do you want to learn English online or do you want to study in person? If you can answer these questions for yourself, and ask the right questions to your tutor, you can make a plan for how to learn English!