Teaching and tutoring can be rewarding and demanding in equal proportions. Before you decide to become an English teacher or a private English tutor, it is advisable to find out exactly what is involved.

Tutors are always in demand for any subject or skill you can think of, however the ability to offer tuition in the English language has added advantages.

The four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening underpin every other subject. If you possess skills in English language teaching, your tutoring opportunities expand as you may be employed to teach students how to write scientific explanations, or help a mathematics student to comprehend written problems.

All students studying in Australia need to be able to write and speak English fluently to communicate their ideas and answers with clarity. They also require proficient reading and listening skills to comprehend written and oral content in their classes.

Once a students who is not a native speaker begins to feel confident in their English ability, they start to grow academically, socially and emotionally. Participating fully in school life, and in social contexts, requires sound English language acquisition.

Over half of all web content is in English. Given the increasing reliance of teachers and students on the internet for information, proficiency in the comprehension of English written structures is imperative.

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What are your Responsibilities when you Tutor or Teach English?

In Australia, as an English teacher, you must follow the guidelines set out in the Australian Curriculum for the structure of lessons and the content. A private English tutor must also be aware of the curriculum content at each student's level.

In both scenarios, your responsibilities will centre around ensuring your English teaching facilitates growth in all English language skills, and encourages high standards. Doing this involves many components to be met:

  • careful and detailed lesson planning, including relevant homework and class tasks designed to meet individual learning needs
  • writing skill development to serve all subjects
  • vocabulary and grammar development
  • exposure to a broad range of literature
  • one-on-one assessment and feedback to students
  • monitoring progression
  • personal preparation for lesson content — a personal reading and study list to maintain and update  your skill level
  • grading
  • delivery of seminars and lectures that engage and stimulate students
  • feedback to parents
What teaching activities promote engagement?
A private English tutor or teacher needs to engage with her students to build rapport and trust. (Source: Unsplash)

English in the Australian Curriculum — a Quick Overview

The Australian Curriculum recognises Australia as a linguistically and culturally diverse country and acknowledges that proficiency in English is essential not only for participation in Australian life but is also globally invaluable. The Australian Curriculum aims to ensure that students:

  • appreciate and use the English language in all its variations
  • understand the power of language to evoke emotion, convey information and facilitate interaction
  • use the different forms of communication to create meaning
  • understand the workings and functions of Standard Australian English
  • develop an appreciation of literature which is informed
  • continue to show growth in the use of language skills (listening, speaking, viewing, writing, reading, creating) through a range of contexts in an accurate and fluent way

When you become an English teacher, you are expected to know how to teach these skills and to continually update and use your own training in language and literature. Private English tutors are subject to the same expectations, and both are tasked with ensuring students learning complies with curriculum goals and standards.

Find online tutoring jobs in Australia.

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What Qualifications are Needed to Teach in an Australian Primary School?

In Australia, most primary schools employ generalist teachers (who can teach all mainstream subjects) rather than 'English teachers' — however, there are many primary school teachers who specialised in English. As a minimum requirement, you must have a Bachelor of Education, or its equivalent, with a major in one curriculum-relevant subject.

Prerequisite requirements to gain entry to an education degree course vary between states and universities, although the minimum standard is the attainment of a Year 12 certificate or its equivalent.

During your four year degree, you will undertake a teaching placement practicum for a minimum of two weeks and up to one term, at least once a year. You will also participate in modules covering all subject areas which will include teaching theory, practical components, content, pedagogy, assessment procedures and classroom management.

Once you graduate, you must apply for positions and may receive either an offer of permanency after a period of supervision, or a short-term contract. During this time, beginning teachers must attend a range of induction activities and maintain a teaching experience portfolio.

In addition to your teaching certificate, you also require teacher registration. This must be renewed annually, although the process and requirements are different from state to state.

What qualifications do you need to become an English teacher?
Your personality and drive are just as important as your qualifications when it comes to succeeding as a teacher or tutor. (Source: Unsplash)

If you wish to teach English in a secondary school setting, the requirements are the same as for primary education, however your major obviously has to be in English language and literature. For all post-secondary teaching roles, a post-graduate or Masters Degree is usually necessary.

You may also specialise in English as a Second Language education, and while you can work as an ESL teacher with your standard degree, a TEFL certificate or a TESOL certificate is highly desirable, especially if you want to gain employment in an Introductory English Centre or the equivalent institution for newly arrived foreign language speakers.

Basic Overview of the P-10 English Curriculum in Australia

The English curriculum in both primary school (Years P-6) and secondary school (Years 7-10) are divided into three strands:

  • language
  • literature
  • literacy

Each strand encompasses the six main language skill areas: reading, writing, listening, viewing, speaking and creating.

Language

Focus areas in the language strand include:

  • language change and the purpose of language
  • text structure
  • idea development and expression
  • phonics, word and vocabulary development

As a private English tutor, you would support your students by helping them unpack and understand the organisation of different multi-modal texts at their level, including use of rhetorical devices, language conventions, punctuation and word origins.

Phonics is taught in the early years, moving on to spelling patterns and etymology.

Reading with your students and discussing vocabulary would be essential as literature exposes the reader to a whole world of language not encountered in everyday conversation.

Changes in language, both over time and in response to different purposes or to technology, are also important for discussion and evaluation.

Literature

Study in the literature strand involves looking beyond the secretarial aspects of language and into areas such as character development. Focus areas include:

  • context for literature
  • responding to literature
  • examining literature
  • creating

English classes would cover the portrayal of character, events and setting across different genre; making personal, literary and global connections; purpose of language and how it is used to create effect; and independent creation of a range of texts.

Private tutors would assist students with all these concepts, possibly particularly focusing on the creating aspect, depending on student needs. Tutors might be required to provide a range of reading materials for their students, reading with them to help highlight both the use of language and literary features. High level discussions would obviously take place to help the student comprehend, and verbalise their understandings.

Find tutoring jobs in Melbourne now.

Literacy

This strand looks at all forms of communicative texts, with focus areas including:

  • context
  • interaction
  • interpretation, analysis and evaluation
  • text creation

English tutors whose students require work in this strand would be responsible for assisting with the development of speaking skills, online texts, and a deeper analysis of text types and how and why language changes according to context.

How much preparation and planning time is needed to be a private English tutor?
Systematic and careful planning and preparation are essential in all teaching jobs. (Source: Unsplash)

The primary goals of an English teacher or tutor are to expose students to the literary world, assisting them to become effective communicators for different purposes and in a range of contexts.

The scope of an English teacher's role is broad, and the curriculum is a crowded one. More and more students are turning to private English tuition, either face-to-face or with an online English teacher.

Become a Private English Tutor — Beyond Academic Teaching

The information above is intended for people who are aiming to become an English teacher within a formal school setting, or a private English tutor whose clients are school students.

Maybe you want to teach English but are not interested in working with school students, or within curriculum restraints. Don't despair, because there are plenty of teaching opportunities for you as well.

Online teaching jobs as a private English tutor can also be found with adults — business people, couples moving abroad, travellers or people who are simply interested in learning English as a hobby. You don't need the same level of qualifications or have years of experience teaching either.

Some avenues you could explore include:

  • mentoring students who are studying for exams, such as IELTS
  • team tutoring — working with another English tutor, conducting conversational sessions with larger groups of ESL students
  • teach abroad — teach in Thailand, or try teaching English in Japan as part of their government-sponsored school English program

English teachers who are native speakers are in high demand around the world. All you need is a work visa. Some countries will even sponsor your airfare.

The opportunities are there if you are self-motivated and know where to look. Leave your options open — consider home or online tutoring, working for a tutoring company, or teaching in an English language school. What about starting your own business? You can advertise and find private students almost anywhere.

If you have skills in English, you have countless options and job opportunities. Teaching English as a Foreign Language overseas, online writing jobs, English instructor in companies, as a volunteer for newly arrived migrants or refugees — work out where your passion lies, and go for it. Success can be yours and the more experience you have, the more you will be able to earn.

If you are employed to work with a student who has dyslexia, have a look at this blog post for some strategies.

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Kellie

Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.