English is considered to be a global language. With English speakers in most countries, knowing the language is essential for international communication.

Whether you want to brush up on your conversational skills or operate at a global business level, the ability to speak English is an asset — both personal and professional.

There are multiple options out there if you decide you want to learn English, so what do you choose? Will a traditional English language school structure suit you the best? Or a private school? Perhaps a personal English tutor is what you need?

The question is — if you're not a native English speaker, what structure will be the most effective to help you learn and practice English?

If you would like to learn English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D), we have the following advice:

How much do English lessons cost?

An English teacher or tutor will charge an hourly rate for your English classes.

The rate will vary depending on the course or method you choose. Learning a second language is becoming increasingly popular, with the benefits of being multilingual more apparent in current society.

There are language schools, classes or tutors who tailor their lesson plans to meet differing needs for learning English. Whether your reason is professional or personal, you will need to make a decision about which organisation you will use.

A quick Google search for 'English lessons' will give you page after page of online resources, private language schools and tutoring companies.

Browse through these and you will soon realise learning English can be expensive.

Of course, there are other options.

For many people, one-to-one tuition has significant benefits. Most tutors offer English for beginners, intermediate lessons and sessions for advanced level speakers — all individualised to improve your language skills.

The tutor profiles and reviews section on the Superprof website are good places to start looking as you will find a wide range of experienced, qualified English tutors.

Prices for one-on-one English lessons are determined by:

  • student level (beginner, immediate, advanced)
  • course length
  • tutor qualifications
  • city/location (for example, a tutor in Sydney may charge more than a tutor in rural NSW; demand can be a factor, as can distance)

Check the reviews and rates for English classes and tutors in your area, you're certain to find someone who is just right for you.

Compare prices locally and in locations a little further away. Don't discount nearby areas as you may find you can save money by travelling a little further afield.

Do your research when looking for someone to teach English to you, it will save you money
You want value for money when you're paying for English classes, so don't be scared to look around | source: InfoMofo on Visualhunt

The hourly rate charged for English language teaching will vary according to different factors, such as experience.

Undergraduates tend to offer private tutoring at cheaper rates. Alternatively, you may pay more if you require specialised or advanced skill development with an experienced tutor who is a native English speaker.

Getting Value for Money from your English Classes

If you're spending money each week to learn English, you want to feel you're receiving the best possible value from your tutor.

There are a few actions you can take to ensure you benefit from your private tuition — whether you want to improve your grammar, writing or English speaking skills.

Communication with your tutor is essential — ask questions and discuss any doubts before and after each lesson.

Remember, your tutor is not a magician. You need to have the motivation to put in effort between classes. Set yourself short and long-term goals and add them to your personal learning plan.

Here is a three-step-plan to maximise your tuition, whether it's online or face-to-face:

Identify Your Weak Spots

What areas of the English language are the most difficult for you? Perhaps it's grammar, subject-verb agreement or tense. Or, you might not feel confident with your listening skills, English conversation, comprehension or pronunciation of advanced vocabulary.

Whatever it is, as the first step in optimising your second language learning, talk to your tutor and ask them to concentrate on your priority areas.

Request Assistance with Homework 

For non-native English speakers who are in Australian secondary schools or enrolled in a university course, homework assignments and exams can be stressful.

Your English tutor can provide you with extra comprehension or vocabulary practice. They can also explain assignment requirements, assist with tricky questions or help you prepare for tests.

If you are looking to enrol in an Australian university-level degree, a private tutor can work with you as you prepare for the prerequisite IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test or the equivalent required by your university of choice.

Practise Your English

This may seem obvious but it's often the hardest thing to do. Your tutor is going to be supportive, so take every opportunity you can to speak English and build your confidence. Ultimately, your goal is to improve your fluency, so any conversation about anything is going to help.

Seek conversational opportunities whenever you can with native English speakers and English teachers.
Any English conversation opportunity should be embraced to build confidence and fluency ¦ source: Visualhunt - Kevin Curtis

Clear and accurate pronunciation is also important when you speak any foreign language. Your fluency and English language skills will improve if you put the effort in and practise your conversation and pronunciation in real-life situations.

Making a Decision on the Best English Teachers or ESL Classes for You

Out of the seemingly endless number of private tutors, how do you know which English tutor is perfect for you?

You may be wondering if you even need a personal English tutor?

Put simply, yes. Here's why:

  • extra lessons equal quicker progress
  • your lessons can be individualised to cater to your needs
  • working with another person is more enjoyable and motivating than working on your own

You can also choose whether you want your tutor to teach you in person, online, or even by telephone.

Should You Choose a Qualified Teacher or a Student?

Who you choose to learn English with is entirely up to you and what you need.

You might prefer an experienced teacher, or you might feel more comfortable with an undergraduate who is closer to your age.

Are you looking for a more academic focus or just some relaxed conversational lessons?

Do you want a native English speaker, or will a non-native English speaker suit your needs?

The purpose of your English tuition will also inform which English tutor you choose. For example, a tutor who is a specialist in business English might be what you need if you're applying for a high-level job.

On the subject of jobs, remember to highlight your language skills, during your interview to impress your future employer.

Know What You Want in an English Tutor

There are several qualities you might like to see in your English tutor:

  • patience
  • the ability to cater to your style of learning
  • active listening to, and acting on, your needs
  • encouragement to speak English often
  • actively strives to help you with areas of difficulty
  • positive support

Where can you find tutors?

Try tutoring companies, community/school noticeboards or talk to other students to ask about their experiences.

In addition, tutoring platforms, including Superprof, attract a lot of advertisements from tutors. You'll find prices are competitive and detailed information about tutors and what they offer.

How Can Parents Who Don't Speak English Help Their Children?

Every parent wants to be able to help their child. This also applies to parents whose children are learning English — but there's an added difficulty when they do not speak English themselves.

Here are some things non-English-speaking parents can try:

  • Enrol in online lessons or  English for Beginners evening classes
  • Keep up with your child's learning
  • Speak English with your child whenever you can
  • Ask your child's tutor for advice or strategies
  • Avoid translating word-by-word
  • Purchase relevant textbooks in English 


How Long Before Your English Conversation and Skills Show Improvement with a Private Tutor?

There are many factors that will determine how quickly your English skills will improve:

Your Current Level

It may take several months to develop conversational English if you are a beginner. However, if you already have some basic knowledge, your fluency and skill level can show improvement in a matter of weeks.

The English Tutor You Choose

Engaging a private tutor who can cater to your immediate needs, means you will eventually not be reliant on online translation apps.

Do remember to check the Superprof platform for English courses and tutors in Australia.

Whether you want a tutor experienced in teaching English or just a native speaker, choose carefully.
To improve your language skills, choose your English as a second language tutor carefully ¦ source: Visualhunt - Masaru Goto

Nobody wants a tutor who can't help them make progress.

Look for a tutor who offers the first lesson free so you can see if you're a good match for each other.

Take the opportunity to talk with a potential tutor. Are they fluent enough to help you with your pronunciation? Are they easy to understand?

Finally, a good tutor will use strategies and resources aimed at your English level — the last thing you want is to be confused or bored.

Your Level of Ownership and Investment

determined learner who is personally motivated is a successful learner.

What can you do to take ownership of your English learning?

  • Look for a private tutor who can give you intensive lessons
  • Work on memorising specific grammar and vocabulary so it comes naturally
  • Practise, practise, practise
  • Set yourself a weekly goal and commit to achieving it
  • Start conversations in English — even with strangers

Online learning is another way to practise. It gives you flexibility and helps build confidence in a safe environment.

Language apps, such as Duolingo, are free and easy to use. In addition, websites such as Learn English, the Australian page of the British Council and the University of Queensland's free IELTS course make good starting points and are great places to gain English practice in addition to private lessons.

Lastly, the best way to improve your English language proficiency is to immerse yourself in native culture by visiting or living in a country where English is spoken.

You'll be surrounded by free lessons and speaking opportunities. You'll make new friends.

There are many options, including working as an au pair for an English-speaking family or studying at secondary college or university.

The best thing about living in a foreign country is the cultural and linguistic experience you'll gain. Remember to add it to your CV.

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