Were you ever bored in an English class? What about when you were taking the Spanish lessons or French lessons elective at high school?
If you have, then you know that teaching a language is not easy. Being articulate and fluent in your native language does not automatically mean you’ll be a good teacher.
Sure, language acumen is a crucial part of being an in-person private language tutor but that’s just a prerequisite to a whole list of skills you’ll need if you want your students to stick with you.
Crucial Tips for Aspiring In-Person Private Language Teachers
1. The Student’s Goals
Teaching the syntax and vocabulary of a foreign language isn’t your only task as a private language tutor. You’re also supposed to help your student achieve his underlying goal for learning the language in the first place.
Below are common reasons why someone would want to learn another language
- Because they’re moving or traveling to another country
- To ace an academic or work related exam such as IELTS, OET
- To communicate with relatives and friends who speak foreign language
- To handle business and work transactions without relying on an interpreter
Customize your lessons to fit your student’s goals, so they don’t feel frustrated learning words and phrases they may never use in actual conversation, which is typical in self-taught language learning apps with limited vocabulary programming.
Pro Tips: The key is that no single student is alike, each have a different goal and pace in learning so each of your student should be treated uniquely.
Location is an important consideration for in-person private language tutors because the learning environment will affect your student’s experience in many ways.
As a private French tutor, doing your sessions in a cafe with lots of people might be the most obvious thing to do because it gives you and the student stuff to talk about. This ambiance is great if you’re already teaching an advanced learner who can converse on random topics, but this won’t be a good location for a beginner learning the pronunciation and varying inflections of French— there’s just too much noise. With the latter, you may opt to choose a familiar cafe where you know is quiet and the ambiance is tranquil or better yet a public library!
You don’t need a certificate or diploma to teach your mother tongue.
Unfortunately, some students prefer tutors with credentials, such as Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate, which is commonly requested for English tutors in Korea. If you don’t have credentials, use testimonials or recommendation letters from former students to boost your credibility instead.
The most important thing is that you can explain the verb conjugations, tenses, sentence structure, and other basic grammar concepts that affect your language. Language structures vary widely, so you should never assume that a student will understand how to form sentences or conjugate verbs in the language you’re teaching based on a few examples you give.
For instance, in English the order is subject-verb-object, as in “Sheila eats the apple,” but in Japanese the correct order is subject-object-verb so it’s “Sheila apple eats” or “Sheila wa ringo (the apple) o taberu (eats).” Without proper explanation from a skilled Japanese tutor, the student will just think they’re doing it right as long as the verb is at the end of the sentence—and that’s not always the case.