5 tips for hiring a language tutor

Skip to:

Hiring a language tutor to assist in your language development is a popular option. With a tutor, lessons can be tailored to fit your interests and the specific skill area you wish to develop. It is also convenient as lessons can be planned around your schedule. It’s easy to find a language tutor. You may have already come across tutors offering their services on-line (like Kijiji) or in the newspaper. You can also check community bulletins for advertisements offering their services.

But how do you pick a language tutor who is right for you and where do you go from there? Read on to find out!

  1. Determine your language learning goals

  2. The first step to take before calling a prospective tutor is to map out your language learning goals. If you are intending to take college or MA courses, focusing on conversational skills will probably not improve your academic or essay writing skills. It is important to be very clear about the specific skills you hope the tutor can assist you with.

    If you are having trouble determining your goals, you may find the following method useful. Divide a sheet of paper into four parts. Label one part “Speaking”, the second one “Reading”, the third one “Listening” and finally, the last part “Writing”. These are the four skill areas for language learning. For each section, write down what you would like to improve on. Maybe you would like to write better emails (that would go under “Writing”), or you maybe you want to be better at conversing with co-workers so that you won’t be left out when they are chatting during lunch break (write that under “Speaking).

    If you have a lot written under a certain skill area, it would be a good idea to focus on that skill. And don’t throw out the sheet just yet. Your tutor will find it very helpful and will give him/her a better idea on how he/she can help you.

  3. Chose a language tutor with the proper qualifications

  4. Language tutors may or may not have certification to teach a second language. There are many reasons to choose one who has gone through an accredited program like TESL or TESOL. Teachers who are TESL or TESOL certified are trained on lesson planning and delivery, and have acquired a multitude of skills that will benefit the tutoring sessions. You should request a resume which details your prospective tutor’s educational qualifications and work experience.

    If references are provided, do not hesitate to call them. Ask them about the prospective tutor’s qualifications and professional work ethic. If you need more information on what to look for in a tutor, the section “What to Look for in a Tutor” in this article might be helpful.

  5. Online or in-person?

  6. If you are comfortable with technology, an online tutor could be an option for you. Read 5 best reasons to learn English online to find out why people are choosing online education and learn about its many benefits. Some online tutoring options include Tutor Doctor, Find A Tutor and eTeacher English.

    Face-to-face tutoring is still a popular option for those who like the traditional way of learning. If you need a quiet space for your tutoring sessions, check out the public library for small tutorial rooms at no charge. To be safe, meet in a public area with a good flow of people.

  7. Discuss your expectations clearly

  8. It would be beneficial for both learner and tutor to discuss language learning goals, schedules, meeting location and even payment options before the first session. This way, both parties know exactly what they are getting into and keep disputes at bay.

    Write down what you hope to accomplish within a certain time frame. Read this article on setting SMART goals for your language learning plan.

  9. Keep lines of communication open

  10. Communicate with your tutor about your progress as the tutoring sessions move forward. Are you happy with the pace? Are the tutoring sessions meeting the goals set for language learning? Do not be afraid to request a change in pace or study resources if you feel that the current methods and materials are not meeting your needs.

    At the same time, be open to suggestions and techniques the tutor may propose to you. For additional tips and ideas on improving your English, check out this article on making the best out of your ESL class.

Back to top


5 Tips for Hiring a Language Tutor

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Canadian Idioms : Canadian Fall Celebrations Idioms

Article thumbnail fallback

Study the Powerpoint slides to learn this week’s idioms. Canadian Fall Celebrations from English Online Inc.

A Good Cause – Based on “Volunteering Idioms”

Article thumbnail fallback

City Girl – Based on Autumn Idioms

An illustration of orange, yellow and red maple leaves.

Language Circle: Birth date and the flu

Man feeling the forehead of a lady who is feeling sick

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.