How to get the perfect private tutoring job
Elizabeth Gardiner is studying German and Spanish Linguistic Studies at Southampton University, and is currently on her year abroad in Cartagena, Spain, working as an English Language Assistant in a secondary school. She is blogging about her experiences, and says, "I was approached by a lot of people who wanted a native English person to give private lessons, so I thought I would take the opportunity to try something new and earn a bit of money. I've noticed that the experience can be very different depending on various factors, and I wish I had thought about it a bit more before I started! To make sure other people are a bit more clued up than I was, here is my advice on things to think about before you start!"
Even before I arrived in Spain for my year abroad I was inundated with requests to give private English lessons. Everybody seems to want them, be it for themselves, their child or their colleague’s hairdresser’s niece. It’s a perfect opportunity to earn a little extra money and get experience teaching, but there are a few things to bear in mind to make sure you get what you want out of it. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before committing!
1. Do you have the time?
Depending on exactly how you will run the sessions, this will most likely include planning time as well as the lessons themselves. You might have to prepare things in advance, such as worksheets or games, so make sure that you have enough time to commit to your private lessons. This will ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed, and also that your student is getting something valuable out of it!
2. Do you have the resources?
Again, exactly what you need will depend on who you teach, but some things that may come in useful are printers (you don’t need your own, but it helps to have access to one every now and then!), paper to make flashcards and games. You don’t want to waste all the money you earn on buying resources so always check if there’s a cheaper way to get things first. It’s likely that quite a few exchange students in the area all teach private lessons, so get in touch and see if they want to share resources! Also, if your lessons are with young children the parents will probably have normal games that you can easily adapt to English.
3. What age group do you want to teach?
Usually for younger children, parents just want you to play with them in English. Some people prefer this because it can involve less planning, but I personally find it a lot more tiring and difficult to keep their interest! I prefer sitting down and talking about grammar, or just having a normal chat, which is generally more suited to teenagers or adults. I think this is the most important thing to consider because the age group can affect what you do in the lessons, how much you need to plan and how much you enjoy it, so give it some thought!
4. How much will you charge?
My biggest advice on this one is to ask around and find out what other people charge! If I hadn’t done this I would have undercharged by a huge amount. The standard in my area seems to be €10-€12 an hour, but there are some factors that can change this. For example, consider how long it takes you to get there, how much planning you have to do, how many students there are… For one of my sessions, I eat lunch with the family and the mum drives me to and from her house, so I charge her a bit less!
5. What will you teach?
Often the student or their parent has a fairly good idea of what they want you to do with them. One of mine even gives me all the resources to use! If that is something you are happy with, then great. But if somebody wants nothing more than grammar lessons and you hate teaching grammar, then I would recommend finding a student who is more suited to your style! Others are vaguer with what they want, for example “just help them with their English”, so you have more of a choice. There are many things that could be covered, such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary… so think about what you would most like to do and see how you can fit it in to the lessons!
In my experience giving private lessons can be fun, a great way to practise Spanish (when you have lessons with younger kids you end up explaining things to them in their own language!), and of course a quick way to earn a bit of extra cash. Hopefully this advice will help you get the perfect job so you can leave every lesson with a smile - happy tutoring!