Our latest post comes from one of our community members, Natasha Saednejad, a French, Spanish and ESL tutor in Surrey. She explains how to hire a language tutor and how to get the most out of the experience.
The world of language learning can be a daunting place, full of verbs, conjugations and sounds you never knew your mouth could make. Add to that, the process of finding the right tutor, and it can easily seem overwhelming. There are, however, some failsafe tips to make the decision-making process a little easier.
1. Decide on Your Language Learning Goals
Before you start your search for a language tutor it can help to have a particular learning goal in mind. Think about what particular skill you want to improve – do you need help with speaking, grammar, writing? Even if you’re only learning for leisure, it can help to have a milestone to work towards. Once you know what you want to achieve, you’ll have a better idea of the type of tutor that you’ll need.
2. Look for Someone with Experience
Firstly, look for experience. And if you discover that they studied abroad, then even better. Learning a language is a cumulative process, and the more years of experience a language tutor has, especially in situ (e.g. learning French in France), the better equipped they’ll be to navigate you through your language-learning journey. Obviously, this only applies to tutors for whom the language is a secondary one.
If you choose a native speaker as your tutor, then focus more on their teaching experience: have they taught many students of your age and ability? Can you find out anything about their teaching style? The more informed you are, the more likely you are to pick the perfect tutor for your needs.
You should also make a point of asking if the they can provide contact details of previous students, so you can verify their tutoring credentials.
3. Get to Know Your Language Tutor
Whilst we are on the topic of teaching style, another top tip is to interact with your tutor before you begin lessons - or ask if they can provide a free trial. By discussing your learning style, and their teaching style, you will gain a better understanding of whether the both of you will work well together.
Trial lessons are obviously one of the better ways to figure this out, but a pre-lesson chat on the phone can also go some way to outlining your goals as a learner, and seeing if your chosen tutor can help you achieve your goals.
4. Agree on a Tutoring Schedule
When it comes to learning a new language, consistency is the key. Having a schedule in place will help ensure that you stick to a learning routine. It’s a good idea to agree a plan with your tutor, so that you know what you’ll be studying and when. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re doing enough hours to see an improvement.
And don’t forget to ask about the cost. Most tutors charge an hourly rate, which in the UK can be anywhere from £20 and up, depending on the tutor’s experience. Some tutors may offer discounts for block bookings, or for payment in advance.
5. Give Yourself a ‘Settling in’ Period
Once you have chosen your tutor, give yourselves a few lessons to settle into each other’s styles, but do not feel trapped into staying with a tutor who isn’t right for you. You are investing your own time and money into learning this new skill, therefore it is your prerogative to decide whether you’re getting as much out of the process as you had hoped.
As tutors, we know that our teaching style will not be right for every student, so don’t worry – we won’t take it personally if you choose not to continue having lessons with us! Remember in school how much easier and enjoyable learning was with teachers that you liked and understood better? The joy of tuition is that you are free to shop around and pick exactly that kind of teacher for your chosen subject.
For some extra advice about what to look for when hiring a tutor, check out this short video from Dukes Education Consultancy:
Finding the right tutor can be a bit like Goldilocks choosing her porridge – one might be too focused on grammar, one too attached to a textbook, and one too dedicated to listening practice – but the right tutor for you is out there. By following the tips above, and with a little trial and error, you’ll find the perfect person to lead you along the road to fluency. Good luck or, as the Spanish would say, buena suerte!