How to Become an English Language Tutor

How to Become an English Language Tutor

Working as an English Language tutor can be a very rewarding job. There's a lot of demand for English Langugae tutors in the UK, particularly for students preparing for their IELTS exam. Discover what qualifications, skills and standard you need to become an English Language tutor as well as how much to charge and how to find English Language tutoring jobs.

Whether you’ve decided to focus on tutoring as your full-time career, or you just want to earn some extra money in your spare time, teaching English as a Foreign Language can be a great route to follow. The demand for English lessons, especially at a professional level, is consistently high, as it’s a key language for business across the world.

As an English tutor, you’ll also have the opportunity to help children who have entered the UK school system after moving from abroad and who need extra help with their language skills. In this post, we provide advice on how to become and English language tutor.

The Qualifications You Need to Become an English Language Tutor

As it’s likely that you’ll already be a native English speaker, there are no specific qualifications that you need to become an English Language tutor in the UK. As the majority of tutors are self-employed (even if you work through an agency), there aren’t any set job requirements you need to fulfil, which means that it’s down to the tutees to decide if you are qualified enough.

Some native speakers still decide to complete TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses, which vary in length and price. Your success as a tutor, however, is by no means dependent on this qualification, but it could make you more valuable in the eyes of your tutees.

If you’re not a native English speaker, you’ll probably need an English degree in order to attain the level of fluency needed to teach the language to tutees of all levels (beginner – advanced), along with an additional qualification such as TEFL or IELTS – (International English Language Teaching System).  Moreover, time spent in an English-speaking country, practising the language and learning about the culture, will benefit your teaching and add to your experience with the language.

Whether a native speaker or not, you should also consider obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate, particularly if you intend on tutoring students under the age of 18. However, it’s not a legal requirement to have one.

The Skills You Need to Become an English Language Tutor

When teaching a language, there are four main skill areas that you’ll need to have mastered:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening
  4. Speaking

Even as a native speaker, you’ll need to be very competent in each of these areas, and you’ll need to be aware of the different methods you need to employ when teaching them to your tutees. If you’re not a native speaker, it’s crucial that you master all 4 skill areas before you become a tutor.

Other key skills you will need to work as a tutor include:

An Adaptable Teaching Style – As a tutor, it’s likely that you’ll be teaching students of all ages and abilities, so you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people. Every student will learn in their own way - for example some people are visual learners, whilst others are more auditory – so you will need to be able to adapt your teaching style to each individual student.

The Ability to Teach Groups and Individuals – As an ESL tutor, you’re likely to teach groups of students, for example in a business environment, as well as individual students on a one-to-one basis. For individual students, you will need to devote all your attention to their learning for the entirety of the lesson, whether it’s online or in person. For group teaching, you will need to make sure that no student is left behind, and that they are all following the lesson.

Good Business Knowledge – As a self-employed English Language tutor, you’ll automatically become a business owner – whether as a sole trader or a limited company. It’s therefore important that you familiarize yourself with the business aspects, such as tax and marketing. There are lots of services out there designed to help you with such matters, such as accountants and local council business advisors.

For more advice on how to teach English as a Foreign Language, check out this useful video:

Decide What Level of English Language To Teach

Deciding which level of English to teach is slightly different than with any other language, as you won’t be tutoring for exams like GCSEs or A-Levels. You’ll likely be teaching students who are preparing for an IELTS exam. The three main levels to consider teaching are:

  • Complete beginners - students who may have just moved to the UK, and have little to no grasp of the language.
  • Intermediate and recreational learners – these may be students who have a fair knowledge of the language, but are learning for personal development and not for business.
  • Advanced or business professionals – tutees who wish to further their English for their careers. These students will usually already have a good grasp of the language.

In terms of the demand for English Language tutoring, business professionals and intermediate leaners will normally be your biggest source of income, so it’s important to have a good grasp of corporate terminology, and more advanced language structures.

Set Your English Language Tutoring Rates

Deciding on your tutoring rates can be a tricky process. The prices that tutors charge for teaching English can vary widely, from £10 per hour to over £100. However, it’s still a good idea to find out what English tutors in your area are charging. There is no ‘standard’ industry charge, and it largely depends on your experience and qualifications, but on average, a UK tutor would charge between £15 and £41 per hour for English Language lessons.

You can then consider whether to provide discounts for block bookings or small groups, and also whether you would charge travel fees to your tutees in addition to the cost per hour.

It’s important to consider the fact that you will mainly be teaching in evenings and at weekends, so don’t start out with rates that are too low, as your working hours will be limited. There is, of course, opportunities to teach some recreational learners during the day, but these may be scarce.

How to Find English Language Tutoring Jobs

One of the trickiest parts of being a self-employed tutor is finding students. There are, however, a number of posts on our site that can help point you in the right direction, such as How Can I Market Myself as a Private Tutor in my Local Area, or 7 Steps to Effectively Market Your Tutoring Business Online.

Once you have your marketing plan set up, students should ideally seek you out, but it’s also a good idea to check on tutoring jobs boards such as the one we have at The Tutor Website. In addition, you might want to increase your chance of being found by local students through online searches by signing up to our private tutor directory.

If you’d like to learn more about how to become an English Language tutor and, then you can buy our eBook ‘How to Start Your Own Tutoring Business’ for £21.99 – it’s packed full of useful advice.

Related posts:

How to Become a German Tutor

How Set Up a Tutoring Business

How to Make Money Tutoring

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Natasha Saednejad

Natasha Saednejad is a French, Spanish, and ESL tutor in Surrey. A graduate of French & Hispanic Studies from King's College London, Natasha runs her own tutoring company in Surrey, NMS Tuition.

  • become an English Language tutor
  • become a TEFL tutor
  • become an ESL tutor
  • teaching English as a Foreign Language
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