There is a great deal of variety in the different types of English tutoring jobs available.
The needs and expectation of ESL (English as a second language) learners in primary, secondary and tertiary education vary greatly, as well as the types of activities different aged learners will respond to.
English teachers for University aged students require a higher level of qualification. Though not mandatory, most ESL/EAL teachers and tutors in Australia have a degree, and either a Certificate IV in TESOL or a CELTA (Cambridge's internationally recognised in teaching English to adults.
Preparing students for standardised English test such as IELTS, TOEFL, FCE, CAE etc. requires no additional qualification. However, at least a few years of experience, preferably in a designated English Language school, is crucially important to be able to help students sufficiently.
Of course, to be an English teacher in a Primary or Secondary School, you will require a degree in teaching from an Australian university and registration with the relevant State Institute of Teaching. However, many school students, predominantly secondary, seek private ESL English lessons in addition to regular classes.
Planning is Key
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
Regardless of the age group, TEFL (teaching English to foreign learners) as a private tutor requires extensive planning, to ensure classes are pitched at slightly above the student's present language ability.
In an average English lesson, the teacher should focus on one specific topic and the relevant vocbaulary for this topic, then the learner(s) should practice several skills (English speaking, writing etc.) and/or study at least one grammar point.
When planning English classes, teachers should bear in mind timing (how long each activity will take), as well as pacing (how quickly is the lesson progressing and whether or not adjustments need to be made).
Sequencing is also an important factor in English classes. This refers to the order in which activities are done within a class. English lessons should follow a logical flow whereby the class becomes progressively more difficult.
Each class should begin with some kind of warmer activity, which gets the student thinking in English. This activity should be fun, speaking based and not too difficult. You can also use the warmer to introduce the topic of the lesson.
You may then introduce new vocabulary and grammar, practice skills and always remember to end your class in a memorable way by reviewing everything you touched on in the English lesson.
After each activity, you must establish the correct answers and ensure students grasp the main concepts before moving on.
It is the responsibility of the English tutor to ensure that time is used efficiently during English lessons, and this is best ensured by astute planning.
Organising Your English Lessons
As mentioned earlier, English tutoring jobs can vary significantly depending on the profile of the students. However, there are some common ideas on how to teach English which are useful to know, regardless of the level and background of your students.
Whether you are hoping to be a one-to-one private tutor, seeking work teaching English online or offering your services in a tutoring centre, the following points remain valid in all cases.
After greeting students warmly, a great way to begin the class is with a review of the previous class. If you weren't their teacher for the previous class, inquire with the students about what they learned. This will tell you what you need to teach them and will also force them to recall what they learned, making it more likely they will remember in the future.
A summary of the last class with multiple contributors is a great way to begin the class. You could get them to come to the board and write down example sentences using newly learned vocabulary and grammar structures.
Without an introduction, your pupils will be confused and overwhelmed. They will develop lots of questions about what exactly you are teaching.
Always start your lessons with a proper introduction. Explain to them what they are going to study. You can even elicit that information from them by giving them clues, as some of the stronger students may have looked at the same concept in another class. For example, if you are studying the present continuous, ask the students a question such as 'what do you call the verb form in the sentence 'I am studying English'? If nobody knows, you can ask a simpler question such as 'is it happening in the present, past or future?' Until students arrive at the topic of the class.
Activities are one component of English teaching which vary greatly between different age groups. Activities play an important role in English lessons as they allow students to utilise language concepts and retain the information in the long term.
Activities should be engaging, fun, social, personalised and most importantly they should focus on the new content that students have just learned.
Of course, not all activities can be all these things at once, but make sure you offer variety to your students in the types of activities you do. Worksheets are great for practising new language, but if your students only ever do worksheets they will get bored very quickly. Yes, even adults!
If you have done a lot of controlled written practice on a particular grammar point (eg. present perfect), then it is about time that you got students practising the same language in a less restricted and more candid scenario. This next phase is called freer practice and it is crucial for students to begin relating the class content with real-life speaking and writing scenarios.
A great freer practice activity for present perfect would be '2 truths 1 lie' where students formulate 3 sentences about themselves in the present perfect (eg. 'I have been to Italy 5 times') and students have to guess which 2 are true and which is a lie.
This is a prime example of a fun and personalised activity that gives students an opportunity to utilise the new language in order to communicate effectively with others.
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4. Concluding English lessons
The final minutes of each lesson should be devoted to wrapping-up. Just as you do at the beginning of a class, summarising the content at the end of a class is good for students' retention of information. This applied to tutors of all subjects, maths, Mandarin, biology or any other academic field.
Here you can ask questions to ensure understanding. Can students accurately reproduce taught grammar structures?
Just before summarising the lesson, you may choose to do a short writing task where students must apply the learned concepts. In a one-to-one setting, this will give you a good indication as to whether you must continue to work on the same concepts in the following lesson or if the student is ready to move on.
By structuring your lesson in a logical and optimal way, you ensure that you teach English in a way which will help your students achieve academic success. This can be a very rewarding job for this reason!
Planning Lessons for Secondary School Students
With students aged 12-18, teaching experience is desirable but not mandatory. In any case, your lessons should be structured around preparing students for the ESL syllabus for year 11 and 12. The most important stage of high school is undoubtedly ensuring that you get the best possible ATAR so students can get into their desired University course.
An important component of ESL in year 12 will be developing reading and writing skills.
A good way to teach this level will be to introduce them to new and challenging native English reading materials, which are similar to what they will have to read in year 12. This can include poems, plays, stories, articles and novels.
Tutor them on vocabulary choice, correct use of grammar, structuring texts logically etc. Their writing skills should be of sufficient quality to write a lengthy essay which succinctly argues a particular point. In order to achieve this, they must be able to plan, edit, proof-read and draft.
Learn how to manage teaching students with dyslexia here.
Planning Lessons for IELTS, CAE Exams
If you wish to find teaching jobs in ESL, tutoring students who are taking important standardised English language tests is a lucrative area to become an expert within.
The lesson plans will be more restricted to the course content in these cases, with the priority being helping students achieve the best possible score rather than helping them with general language fluency.
Your students should do lots of practice exams, where they will practice key skills of listening, reading comprehension and writing. Give your students a diverse range of reading activities and writings prompts to cover the array of texts which they may receive in the real exam.
Organize your lessons such that they focus on enhancing the skill-set of your students.
Give your students frequent grammar and vocabulary quizzes. This will push students to continue fine-tuning their language ability while still developing skills such as speaking and writing. Such quizzes allow you to monitor students' progress and give students extra grammar and vocabulary worksheets if they are required.
If you are doing online teaching, you can use blended learning techniques to give you students interesting tasks involving reading online materials, responding to emails etc.
Various aspects of technology can enhance English learning, whether you teach English online or not, such as using Google Translate to learn new vocabulary. Find out where you can find students for teaching jobs and what their learning goals are. Find great content for your lessons, plan thoroughly and gain more teaching experience!
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