Whether you are choosing a language tutor for a child, for an adult or for a group, there are several considerations that you may want to bear in mind when it comes to finding the right person for you. Here are some ideas for you if you are looking for someone to teach an adult:
1. Consider carefully whether you would be better to have tuition at your home/office or at the tutor’s premises. In some cases it can be more convenient to have the lesson at your work, presuming that you have a suitable room available. You may prefer to meet the tutor in a public place for the first lesson, but this may not be the best option for longer term (background noise, additional costs, space…)
2. Match your tutor to your needs. If you are a beginner then you will have different needs to someone who would like to improve their business language. Ask your tutor about their experience with teaching the type of language you need.
3. If you would like to work towards a qualification then ask the tutor what they think is appropriate. There is no need for an adult learner to take a GCSE or A Level – indeed, I would advise against it, unless you particularly like talking about how much your brother annoys you, or why you love geography! Those qualifications are carefully aimed at teenage learners and so some of the topics are less relevant for adults. There are other certificates available which are internationally recognised, for example the certificates offered by the Goethe Institut for German or the Cambridge Certificates for English (EFL).
4. Have reasonable expectations of what you will be paying. Remember that the minimum wage for someone over 24 is just over £8 per hour. With a good tutor you are not just paying for the one hour of the class, but also for the time they spend planning and marking homework. It can take quite some time to plan a student-specific scheme of work to meet your requirements in the time available. As a rough guide, prepare for the cost of the tutor to be similar to the cost of a 1:1 session with a physiotherapist or personal trainer at the gym.
5. Think about how often you will take classes and how long each lesson will be. If you have little time to commit and an irregular working pattern then you may not be able to learn as quickly as if you can dedicate time to your project two or three times each week. Once a week is a good start for lessons, less than once a fortnight will give too much time to forget in between! As a general rule, the quicker you want to learn, the more time you must make available. So if you have just three months to learn then you would be wise to fit in as many teaching hours as possible.
6. Personality. Ensuring that you get on well with the tutor and can work well with them is a key element. Sometimes two people just don’t get on well, without it being anyone’s fault – so be prepared to review the situation after two or three classes to make sure that both sides are happy.
Teri Fleetwood is the owner of Language Learners and has been providing French, German and English (EFL) lessons to adults and children for more than 12 years. Language Learners operates mostly in the Woking and Guildford areas of Surrey.