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The Beginner’s Guide To English Tuition

Updated: Jun 13

post it notes about teaching, tutoring and english

What is Private English Tuition?

Private tuition is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and is becoming increasingly popular with an estimated 25% of all UK school children receiving academic tuition at some point during their years of compulsory education.

According to one dictionary definition, private tuition is "instruction, especially that received in a

small group or individually, that is arranged and

paid for by an individual rather than by the state."

Thanks to ever changing technological advancements, the education industry has expanded dramatically and it is now possible for one tutor to teach 1:1 lessons with a student from another country or to hold group lessons with large numbers of students from multiple countries around the world.

How Can Private English Tuition Help My Child?

young girl using laptop for online tuition

Private tuition can help to boost a child's confidence and their academic performance by at least one grade and it's becoming an increasingly popular option for parents who are looking for personalised academic support for their children.

Some of the main reasons I hear from parents wanting private tuition for their child include:

  • My child is struggling to complete schoolwork or needs additional support in a few areas.

This is usually raised after receiving a school report, mock exam results or hearing a

teacher express some concerns at Parents Evening.

  • My child needs to pass their GCSE English Language exam

Most sixth forms and colleges require a Level 4 or above in English Language and,

although students are likely to be accepted onto their course if they do not achieve

this level, they will be expected to retake the GCSE English Language exam the

following year.

  • My child needs to pass the 11+ or 13+ Entrance Exam

Competition for places at certain public schools is fierce and many parents are keen

for their child to reach the required standard.

Tutors can also be a positive role model for your child as they are likely to have a positive attitude towards education and, if they are a university graduate or qualified teacher, will be highly educated and understand both the difficulties and the benefits of hard work, self-discipline and time management. They can also act as a third party link between parent and student and ensure that the child keeps up to date with their schoolwork and completes it to the best of their ability.

However, private tuition might not suit everyone and, just as weekly football training cannot guarantee that a child will achieve the required standard to play for a major club or their country, private tuition cannot guarantee that a child will be accepted into a specific school or college.

Motivational quote from W.B Yeats about education

It is worth mentioning that no amount of tuition will help a child to make the desired amount of progress if they are not willing to give it a chance by paying attention in the lessons or completing the work. Therefore, before committing to any private tuition, please make sure that your child is willing to try lessons and will try and approach them with a positive attitude.

As Winston Churchill once said, "continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential" and I believe the best results come from an effective partnership between the student, parents, teachers and tutor who must all work together to support the child.

How Do I Find A Qualified English Tutor?

A young girl thinking with her finger on her chin

Any internet search for "private tuition" or "English tutor" will immediately supply a long list of options and the vast majority of these will be agencies.

Some of the best agencies will interview prospective tutors and request both references and evidence of their qualifications but, currently, tuition agencies are not officially regulated and there are many who will simply accept anyone who applies to be a tutor without any further checks.

Therefore, it is recommended that you conduct your own research by double checking that the tutor is qualified and experienced in the appropriate subject area you require. For example, you could ask for references from previous customers and read any published reviews of their services.

I have worked for a couple of well-established and reputable agencies in the past but am now independent and have received some lovely reviews. The majority of my students have come from word of mouth referrals or via my Facebook page and I still believe that the best way of finding a tutor is via a personal recommendation from someone who has first hand experience of the service provided.

What Do I Need For Online Tuition?

A young girl wearing headphones and using a computer

Online tuition can be just as beneficial for tutors and students as face to face tuition. However, it can be a little daunting and one of the main problems is knowing what equipment is needed.

I am certainly not an expert in setting up or using different software or hardware but, as a basic guide, you will need:

1) A suitable device, such as a laptop, home computer or tablet. Generally, the bigger the screen, the better so mobile phones are not recommended. Please remember to check that there is enough power in the battery or that you have plugged in the charger.

2) A stable and secure internet connection, preferably a private WiFi network at home.

3) Headphones and Webcams. If you have one, you can use the inbuilt microphone and webcam in your laptop but, if you wish to minimise background noise and enhance the audio, you might like to plug in a headset or headphones. However, this is not essential.

In accordance with Child Protection guidelines and the regulations of some video conferencing companies, please ensure that there is a responsible adult in the home during all lessons and that both your child and anyone else who may (accidentally or deliberately) appear on screen during the lesson are appropriately dressed.

5 "Top Tips" For Success

Three children smiling and leaning on books

In order to further support a child's learning, I would also suggest that parents:

1) Commit to regular tuition sessions in order to maintain momentum and consistency.

Most of my students have weekly or fortnightly lessons as, if the sessions are less frequent than

this, it is very difficult to maintain consistency

and consolidate learning.

2) Ensure that children are reading regularly and, ideally, every day.

This can include paperbacks, hardbacks, fiction, non-fiction, newspaper articles or ebooks. If reading on electronic devices, it is recommended that the "blue light" is switched off for bedtime reading as it can interfere with a child's ability to unwind and relax before going to sleep.

3) Investigate the wide range of free or inexpensive learning resources which are available to support your child with their English skills.

This might include speaking to the school about additional classroom support or revision classes, online websites like BBC Bitesize and YouTube videos by Mr Bruff or traditional, printed textbooks.

For English as a Second or Foreign Language, it would be helpful for your child to

listen to radio stations or watch British or American television programmes or films with English subtitles.

4) Ensure that children have regular routines, particularly when it comes to schoolwork, mealtimes and bedtimes.

Like anyone, children can't focus properly or work to the best of their ability if they are tired or hungry so regular routines are essential to consistent academic performance. This includes GCSE students who may be tempted to stay up half the night to cram in some last minute revision!

5) Help your child to maintain a positive attitude by showing an interest in what they have learned and encouraging them to keep going...even if they find it challenging.

As previously mentioned, no amount of tuition will help your child if they are firmly opposed to the idea, are uninterested in improving their grades, fail to engage with the tutor and/or the lesson and consistently refuse to put any effort into their work.

I have had some experience in tutoring "reluctant" students in the past and have found that, in most cases, their negative attitude towards the subject comes from their belief (however untrue) that they are "just not good at English." Fortunately, after some tailored support, their confidence increases, the quality of their work improves and their objections can be overcome.

Private Tutor and Owner of English Home Studies

About the Author

I’m a private tutor, a former qualified and experienced secondary school English Teacher and the founder of English Home Studies. In addition to offering 1:1 tuition sessions for students from 9 - 16 years old (Year 5 - Year 11), I create digital and printable revision guides and activity packs.

I often post advice and links to free and affordable English resources on the English Home Studies Facebook and Instagram pages but, if you have a child in KS3 or KS4, you might like to join one of my Facebook groups:

If you would like to find out more about my qualifications and experience, read some of the lovely reviews I've received from previous clients or have any questions, please have a look around my website or send me a message. Many thanks.


 English Home Studies logo of an adult sat at a desk next to a child, helping them with their studies.
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