Tutoring tips | Teaching English as a second language

By Georgia Davies

This guest blog is written by Georgia Davies, an English, History and Religious Studies tutor. It’s about the essential skills, tips, and experience needed to tutor English as a second language.

Working as a tutor can be a really rewarding way to impart your knowledge to others. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is one unique way to equip others with a really valuable life skill. However, making the jump from having studied English, or other subjects, to teaching the language itself can seem a little daunting. Working with the fundamentals of a language and dialect can be a challenge, but one that is extremely exciting if you have the core knowledge.

So you want to become an ESL tutor? Here’s what you need to know.

Understand the basics

Sometimes one of the hardest things about teaching is reminding yourself to go back to basics. It can be really easy, particularly after you’ve gone to university, to forget the very simplest of building blocks that make up the English language. It’s worth taking a step back as an ESL tutor, to make sure you understand these core building blocks. It’s always a great time to brush up on your knowledge of word types, tenses and sentence structures – helping you to assist your future pupils.

Get to grips with time zones

Perhaps an obvious one, but many ESL pupils may be based around the world. When approaching new students, it’s important to be aware of where they’re based and when you’re teaching them. This ensures that you can work together to create the most efficient learning environment possible, whilst also recognising the need for flexibility in your teaching schedule. One of the best things about teaching ESL with MyTutor is working with people from all over the world – from Asia to the Middle East to America, there’s plenty of opportunity to work with a fantastic variety of keen students.

Key skills

Before starting as an ESL tutor, it’s worth considering whether you have some of the key skills necessary to succeed in the job. One of the most important skills for an ESL tutor is understanding the difficulties students might encounter when learning a language. This may mean that you think back to your time studying languages and what challenges you faced. This understanding is a great skill that will allow you to identify with, and help, your tutee.

Being keen and enthusiastic are two other key qualities needed for an ESL tutor. Sometimes approaching new vocabulary or grammar structures can be concerning for students, particularly young pupils. Enthusiastic tutors can make this experience more enjoyable and fun, perhaps by bringing in visual or audio tools to make the lessons even more engaging.

Finally, being tolerant and aware of mistakes are two great skills that will help your tutees. It is important to be mindful of errors: so you can always help your tutee improve. However, it is really helpful to phrase your feedback in a constructive way, so your tutee doesn’t feel disheartened or worried. Likewise, being tolerant and considerate of the challenges your tutee might be facing will also help them to feel safe and comfortable within your lessons. These skills will allow you and your students to build a strong rapport – perfect for growing their knowledge of English even further.

Let’s get qualified

If you’re feeling worried about making the jump to working with ESL pupils, getting a qualification can be a fantastic place to start. The internet has a wealth of information about all the incredible options out there for teaching ESL, offering you courses and guidebooks for all price ranges. If you’ve already got a handy qualification under your belt, such as a TEFL course, make sure to include this on your profile. This shows two critical things to parents, or adults, thinking about working with you as a tutor. Firstly, it demonstrates that you have a recognised qualification and periods of teaching experience. It also shows a level of commitment to teaching ESL which can be really helpful in making yourself stand-out. If you’re not sure about whether a qualification could be right for you, take a look online and see what jumps out for you and your skill set.

Patience, Patience, Patience

One of the most important things about working as a tutor, more generally, is being patient, compassionate and understanding with your tutees. Learning something new can feel like a large undertaking, so taking it slowly and clearly can make all the difference when you’re teaching. This is even more essential when working as an ESL tutor, where your students may not have heard of certain concepts before. Making sure you are patient, open to questions and willing to repeat complex ideas are key strategies that will help to make your ESL teaching sessions as successful as possible.

Hopefully this has covered everything you need to know about becoming an ESL tutor. If you decide this is the right path for you, why not apply to MyTutor here. Good luck!

Written by - Georgia Davies

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