When moving to Spain as an English Language assistant at a school, I didn’t imagine I’d find it particularly difficult. I speak English every day! Que Fácil! It will be a breeze, or so I thought.
Cut to: me almost in tears at after-school tutoring because I can’t get my head around/ explain 1st, 2nd, and 3rd conditionals to my 14-year-old student whose Mum is paying me $15 an hour.
I work at a primary school over in Spain, so the school side isn’t so much of a struggle. It’s just a lot of explaining the differences between HER/HIM/SHE/HIM – harder than you think, honestly.
In an effort to make some more money, I advertised myself as a tutor. There was a big need in my town and I managed to have 4-5 lessons a week in the bag. With tutoring, it’s a whole new world. Living in England, there wasn’t too much of a need for one-to-one English classes, or as they say in España ‘clases de Inglés’.
I haven’t got a degree in teaching guys, I’m just a girl who talks a lot.
And when it came down to it, I was the worst tutor… to begin with. Apparently ‘it just sounds better’ doesn’t constitute an effective way to teach Catalan-speaking students English grammar? It’s never a good start when I’m visibly sweating trying to work out what perfect past tense is?
Like with everything, practice makes perfecta!
If anyone was wondering past perfect just means you’re talking about something before a past experience, so it’s like past-past.
Example: Dani was an awful English teacher because she had not practised tenses before her lesson and instead watched all of Netflix’s Love Is Blind in one day.
Get it? Me neither.
Instead of explaining a language that I should know wonderfully, I will instead explain my tips on how to not be the worst. If you’re looking to start tutoring or have been doing it a while and have been getting stuck, I’m your gal!
– This can be easily transferrable to online tutoring of different languages too.
My Tutor Tips
Have a fun first lesson First impressions are super important. If a lesson is an hour, spend the first half an hour talking and learning about each other; How does your student like to learn? What they want to learn about? What are they doing at school? Incorporate games here to avoid sounding like an interviewer! 20 questions still BANGS.
Be organised After the first lesson, make a plan of exactly what you want your student to get out of every class. I set aside 10 minutes to plan a fun-filled 1 session depending on their age. I try to mix games, writing, reading and videos.
Know enough in your student’s original language OR have a translator close by If you don’t know your stuff how do you expect your students to? You don’t have to be fluent, but it’s good to know the basics such as WHO, WHERE, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, HOW and BECAUSE in your student’s language.
Homework Try to get your student to bring work from school home – get some homework done whilst you’re working. Less planning for you!
Time it I alwaaaays forget to time my classes and go over. If you set a timer on your phone then you won’t have to check your watch and you can see if you’re on schedule.
Praise! Learning a language is tough. There is no need to correct every word for silly accent differences on day one. Whatever age, hearing someone say ‘amazing!’ or ‘fantastic’ will always make someone smile.
Be realistic The point of tutoring is not to make them speak exactly like you but to understand a lot, speak clearly and *confidently. Never try to ruin someone’s wonderful accent, unless they want to sound like the characters from Downton!
Learn stuff yourself For me, I’m working with different ages and varying levels of English. Sometimes (most of the time) I flop on the complicated grammar, and that’s fine. We often take our languages for granted and can for sure definitely learn more with our students.
Keep it fresh My friend gave me a wonderful idea of using current trends such as Tik Tok to practice the language. The student had to explain the moves to renegade in English. More difficult than the dance, I’ll tell you that.
Get those $$$$ Price yourself realistically. For me, I’m gaining experience in tutoring, so I price quite low. Sometimes I have offers. For instance, for two children I charge less. But in a few months, I will be raising my prices. Always know your worth! When you’ve sorted the money, work out how and when you’d like to get paid: bank transfer or the real thing, every week or every month? Once you get those $$$, don’t forget to save… or buy your next trip!!