With an increasing amount of students studying languages at GCSE and A-Level, there's never been a better time to become a language tutor. In this post, we look at the qualifications and skills you'll need, how to set your rates, and where to find language tutoring jobs.
If you have a passion for languages, working as a language tutor can be a very rewarding career. Whether you’re looking to earn an extra income, or you want to tutor full-time, this post provides advice on how to become a language tutor.
The demand for language tutoring is at an all-time high. The number of students studying a modern foreign language at GCSE and A-Level increases every year. And as the world becomes more globalized, the demand for language tutoring at business level is increasing too.
The Qualifications You Need to Become a Language Tutor
Surprisingly, language tutors do not need any specific qualifications to teach in the UK. There’s currently no regulatory body for tutors, so how qualified a language tutor needs to be is generally at the discretion of students.
This being said, the more qualified you are, the more capable you’ll likely appear to potential tutees. Most language tutors are educated to degree level in their chosen language, as fluency is generally a prerequisite for language tutors, regardless of whether they teach learners, or more advanced students.
Having first-hand experience of living in the country of your taught language is also advantageous as it demonstrates that you’ve practiced your skills and know about the country’s culture. Finally, although not a legal requirement, you should consider gaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate, particularly if you intend on tutoring students under the age of 18.
The Skills You Need to Become a Language Tutor
Competency in any language revolves around 4 key skills, which you’ll need to have mastered before becoming a language tutor. These are:
Whether teaching a complete beginner, or an A-Level student, these skills are key to successful tutoring. Similarly, other indispensable skills include:
An Adaptable Teaching Style – As a tutor, you’ll be working with students of all ages and abilities, therefore it’s important that you’re able to adapt your communication style and teaching methods for each individual student. You also need to bear in mind that each tutee will have their own learning style that you’ll need to adapt to.
One-to-One Teaching Skills – One of the principal reasons that students use language tutors is that they will receive one-on-one attention from a qualified teacher. It’s therefore essential that you’re able to dedicate your full attention to the tutee for the entirety of a lesson, or equally between a small group of students. Be sure to be enthusiastic and friendly, but also fair and corrective if need be. Of course, this applies to online language tutoring as well.
Business Knowledge – Becoming a language tutor, automatically means becoming a business owner, whether as a sole trader or a limited company. With this in mind, you’ll need to educate yourself on paying taxes and marketing your services.
Decide What Level of Language to Tutor
As a language tutor, there are a few different levels of learning that you could specialise in – or you could choose them all. Some of the options you have when it comes to identifying your target audience, include:
GCSE and A-Level students: these tutees will need exam-specific preparation and general development of their skills.
Business professionals: these students will probably need more advanced, business-specific language learning to aid them in their careers.
Recreational learners: these clients will just want to learn a language for pleasure or holiday purposes, so lessons are likely to be more relaxed and less goal-oriented.
Setting Your Language Tutoring Rates
Deciding on your language tutoring rates can be difficult, as prices vary widely. If you were to search for language tutors, you would see that rates can range from £10 to over £100 per hour, and can be dependent on factors such as experience, or simply the language offered.
There’s no industry standard charge across language tuition, but an average rate for languages such as French, Spanish and German is between £20 and £50, depending on the tutor’s level of experience.
You can then decide if you will provide a discount for block bookings (say of a month or more of lessons), or for small groups, and if you’ll charge a travel fee for covering distances over a certain length.
Although it can be tempting, charging low rates when you first start tutoring can be detrimental to your efforts as most tuition takes place in the evening or at weekends, even for full-time tutors. You could of course, try to gain contracts to work in schools, or run daytime language workshops.
How to Find Language Tutoring Jobs
Your success as a self-employed language tutor relies on your ability to market your services, and find clients. If you’re planning to work in your local area, our post, Marketing for Private Tutors, is very useful. And if you also decide to tutor online, check out our post, 7 Steps to Effectively Market Your Tutoring Business Online.
Once your tutoring business is established, students will ideally come to you, but in the meantime it may be useful to check tutoring jobs boards like the one we have at The Tutor Website. It’s also a good idea to sign up to our
private tutor directory, in order to increase your chances of being found by students in your local area.
If you’d like to learn more about how to become an English Language tutor, you can buy our eBook ‘How to Start Your Own Tutoring Business’ for £21.99 – it’s packed full of useful advice.