Many ESL teachers take on private classes and teach English one-to-one. It can be a lucrative form of work; with flexibility and independence and a variation from teaching English in a school.
Why teach English privately?
Working in an educational institution, for whatever reason, may not be for you. Often you have to sign up for a yearlong contract and commit to a weekly teaching schedule. If you enjoy teaching but want more flexibility in terms of timetabling and being your own boss, private English tutoring might be your best option.
Teaching one-to-one is a valuable teaching experience which will give you a deeper insight into how students learn English, skills which are transferable to the classroom. Identifying individuals in the classroom who are struggling will be easier as you have trained yourself to do this in a private setting.
EFL teaching one-to-one requires some different skills and approaches to teaching a group of students. Here are some practical tips on how to make teaching one-to-one work:
1. Conduct a needs analysis
At the start of your first lesson you should find out the level of your student, why they want to learn English and what they hope to achieve from your lessons. You can do this by asking the students questions in way of an informal conversation, or by giving them a questionnaire to fill out.
2. Design a teaching program
Based on the findings from your needs assessment you can create a personalised teaching program. Print out a copy to give to your student. This will not only keep a structure to your teaching, it will let them know what to expect and notify them of when you have planned teaching assessments or homework.
One-to-one private English tuition is the preferred choice for a lot of language learners because the tutor can personalise the lessons to suit the learning level and interests of them. In a busy classroom it is very difficult to give attention to everyone, this way you can really focus on areas in which they are struggling or certain lessons or topics they enjoy. You can also focus some lessons on discussing the student’s personal life.
4. Vary the lessons
It is tempting when you are teaching one-to-one for all the lessons to be about conversation or speaking. Make sure you vary the lessons by also doing some reading and writing. Don’t be afraid of silences in the class; all learners need space and thinking time.
5. Use authentic materials
A lot of one-to-one private lessons tend to be with adult professionals. Ask your student to bring in English materials that they regularly work with in their company. This might be reports or documents that they have to fill in. Using authentic teaching materials will help keep your classes relevant to the student’s needs.
On a more practical note, it is important to think about your position in the classroom and where your student sits. When you are in the classroom you will usually stand in front of a whiteboard, but for one-to-one teaching this might not be appropriate. A round table is ideal and sitting beside the student rather than opposite them is better as this will enable you to work together. Remember you do not have to sit in one place the whole time, getting up and moving around will break up the lesson and do wonders for your students concentration.
Opportunities for private English tuition
Such is the demand for ESL tutors, you will not find it difficult to source a range of students willing to pay for private English tuition. There are various types of learners and, deciding on which type of teaching fits your style, you can choose who you want your students to be. Here are some examples of the different type of learners:
Those who struggle learning English without the provision of extra teaching time often use private lessons. Unfortunately some schools have limited resources and time to deal with slow learners, which is where you come in! English language skills are key to many foreign students’ success in later life so you will be offering a great service that will empower your students.
You can also help fast learners excel and sit exams early.
Adult learners (business English)
You could also move into teaching business English to adults. This area of TEFL is growing fast as many employees in the Business world need a good grasp of English at work. Find out more Teaching Business English.
Teaching English online
Online TEFL teaching is also emerging as an integral part of the ESL market and is an innovative new way to teach one-to-one. It is also completely flexible as it eliminates geographical restrictions. You can teach students from all over the globe, at times that suit you for as many hours a week as you want – all form the comfort of your own home or while you are constantly on the move. Find out more about Teaching English Online.
If you are interseted in teaching English privately what is stopping you?! Print out your CV, put up adverts and create an online network with other TEFL teachers. Once you have started teaching privately and have developed a solid reputation, you will find new students through word of mouth and referrals.