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 £8per 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.
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 tutor a child:
1.If you need a tutor for someone under the age of 18 then do ask for their DBS check if you will be leaving your child alone with them. The DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check is the certificate which shows if they have any criminal convictions of relevance to working with children.
2.Consider carefully whether you would be better to have lessons at your home or at the tutor’s premises. Most professional tutors will be unwilling to be left alone with a child in the child’s own home. At Language Learners we insist on an adult being present in the home for any child under the age of 14.
3.Match your tutor to your needs. If you would like your 8-year-old to have a little booster then you may be fine with a University student. However, if your child has specific additional learning needs or is studying for an exam then it may be a good idea to pay extra for someone who has experience of those particular requirements.
4.The GCSE curriculum and exam methods have changed in the last three years – so University students DID NOT sit the same exam that your child will be taking. If you need to be boosting grades then ask your tutor questions about how they have kept their knowledge up-to-date.
5.Have reasonable expectations of what you will be paying. Remember that the minimum wage for someone over 25 is £8.21 per hour at the time of writing. 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 boost that particular student’s grades in the time available and I am sure it is the same for other subjects/tutors too. 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.
6.If your tutor is just going over the same material that was covered in school, using the same books and worksheets, then it is time for another tutor. They should be adding value by bringing different/more resources. Not that you necessarily want lots of different explanations (that’s confusing) but a range of new exercises and challenges will really help to consolidate the information.
7.Personality. Ensuring that your child gets on well with the tutor and will work nicely for 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 and German tutoring to children from age 5 upwards for more than 12 years. Her students consistently exceed expectations at GCSE and A Level through a careful mixture of topic and grammar work as well as a keen attention to exam technique. Language Learners operates mostly in the Woking and Guildford areas of Surrey.
French grammar constructions? How dull, I hear you cry! However, that grammar does have its uses, especially if you are trying to make your language more interesting – whether you are looking to impress your friends with some fancy phrases, or you are keen to get some of those extra exam marks for “complex grammar constructions”.
Here are a few useful ways of saying things which should help to widen your vocabulary. Many of these constructions can be used in a range of tenses, so I have given a couple of examples in each case.
1.Être en train de + infinitive – to be in the middle of doing something.
Je suis en train d’écrire un blog – I am in the middle of writing a blog.
J’étais en train d’écrire un blog, quand j’ai vu un chat – I was in the middle of writing a blog when I saw a cat.
2.Au lieu de + infinitive – instead of doing….
Au lieu d’écrire un blog, il faut faire mes devoirs – Instead of writing a blog, I must do my homework.
Au lieu de faire mes devoirs, j’ai regardé la télé – Instead of doing my homework I watched TV.
3.Après avoir/être + past participle – after having done something. WATCH OUT! Just like the present perfect tense, you need to take care of the être verbs…
Après avoir écrit mon blog, je vais prendre un thé – After having written my blog I am going to have a cup of tea.
Après être allée en ville, j’écrirai encore un blog ! – After having gone to town I will write another blog!
4.Avant de + infinitive – before doing something
Avant de boire mon thé, je vais finir le blog – Before drinking my tea I am going to finish the blog.
Avant de finir le blog, je cherche d’autres exemples – Before finishing the blog, I look for other examples.
5.Venir de + infinitive – to have just done something
Je venais de trouver un exemple, quand la téléphone a sonné – I had just found an example when the phone rang.
Je viens de finir mon blog. Youpi ! – I have just finished my blog. Hurrah!
The author is a Surrey-based language tutor specialising in French, German and English as a Foreign Language. She has many years of experience of trying to sound more interesting in French, especially with a view to boosting exam grades (whether for herself or others!).
How do you measure success when learning a language? For some people success is measured in exams, certificates and qualifications, for others it is more a question of gaining confidence to be able to do things which you couldn’t do before – like ordering a coffee or reserving a hotel room. This is the story of one of our past students, Andy.
Andy started beginner German classes with Language Learners in early 2015. He was planning to take ski instructor training in Switzerland and wanted to get a head start on the language. Here is what Andy himself had to say about his first set of lessons with us:
“I had never spoken German before and needed to learn a lot in a small amount of time. In the space of just a few months Teri had me confidently speaking the language to the point I arrived out here and became the person who had to do all the translating and question asking! Teri’s lessons were great fun and really well structured. From tenses and grammar to specific lessons on Ski vocabulary, she really took into account my requirements and level. When I come back next year I will definitely be continuing the lessons and improving my language skills further. Thanks a lot Teri!”
Did Andy return for more lessons? Yes, indeed he did. He came back at the end of the ski season and continued learning in preparation for a return to Switzerland in the next ski season. We continued with focussed classes on grammar and ski vocabulary including naming eight different types of ski lift, and practising how to call for medical assistance. In fact, he was so inspired that he also took the Goethe Institut A1 level German exam in London shortly before the 2016 ski season, which he passed with a good mark.
There was mixed news about Andy’s season. The good news was that he felt confident in his language and really enjoyed his time there. The bad news was that a ski accident saw him “enjoying” the Swiss medical facilities rather more than he may have wanted. However, every cloud has a silver lining and we were delighted to get a message from Andy to say that the medical vocabulary we had covered had been really helpful and that he had managed to complete all his own medical forms, in German, despite the pain!
Andy recovered from his accident and completed the ski season. He has now returned to the UK and has moved away from the area to start a new job.