If you include both native and non native speakers, English is the world's most commonly spoken language, followed closely by Mandarin and then Hindi. The United Nations also lists English amongst its six official languages.
Of course, if we only look at native English speakers, English falls to third ranking, however, owing to the fact there are nearly 800 million people who speak English as their second language, it's no surprise English is considered the lingua franca of the world.
Although the UK rightly claims to be the birthplace of modern English, there are now close to 100 countries who recognise English as their official language.
No wonder the world is crying out for tutors to teach English lessons.
What Qualifications and Teaching Experience are Needed?
If you want to teach English as a subject, this very different from teaching English as a second language. To begin with, there are several prerequisites you must meet before you can apply for a teaching job in Australia and become an English tutor.
There are plenty of opportunities for moving into a teaching career as an English tutor, including early childhood teaching through to adult education. First, however, you need to gain the required skill-set for becoming an English teacher.
In all formal education settings, teaching qualifications are required, even if you already have an English literature degree.
Once you have a teaching certificate, registration or a TEFL qualification, you'll find your tutoring services will be sought after and you may even score a teaching placement.
In addition, your qualifications could also open up a host of teaching opportunities, both in Australia and around the world. Think about applying for teaching positions in international schools, teaching at English language schools in Japan or China, or you could even teach English online.
If you're ready to take the next step, let's have a look at what you need to do to transform yourself into a highly sought after tutor of English.
Check available online tutoring jobs here.
First Things First — Qualifications
Australian citizens wishing to teach English in the school system must have a Bachelor Degree in Education, at the very least, with an English major. For non-Australians who would like to work as teachers, the requirements are slightly different.
The Academic Route: Teaching in Schools
A transcript, or similar, showing academic success and the equivalent of a 3 or 4-year-degree is the first step if you wish to become a teacher of any subject in Australian schools. Depending on your qualifications, you may need to undertake a bridging degree which involves supervised professional practice.
In addition, you need sound results in an IETLS test or similar. If you wish to teach English, you obviously need records of literature or language studies as well.
If you decide to undertake the four-year degree in education, you will require a Year 12 Certificate and Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) or a suitable equivalent to enrol in the degree course.
The Non-Academic Route: Assisting or Tutoring
For people who don't wish to go down the 'University Degree' path, but still want to work in schools, other avenues, such as applying to be a teacher assistant, are available. These jobs often require you to work one-on-one or with small groups of students who require extra academic assistance in a tutoring-style relationship. There are various prerequisites for this job as well, and a sound command of English is always a must.
Alternatively, you may feel you don't want the demands of being in a school, interacting with large groups of children and teenagers, and would prefer to work privately with adults or selected students in a more traditional tutoring role. Doing this also means you need to satisfy the non-academic teaching requirements.
Whichever path you choose, experience will always win over no experience and, of course, medical fitness and a clear criminal record are both essential.
Setting your Fees as an Academic Tutor
As mentioned above, your biggest decision is how you want to use your skills to start teaching English:
- as an English teacher in a school
- private, home-based tutoring with individuals or small groups
- online tutoring
When you are employed by the relevant Department of Education, in a school or university, your salary will be determined by the institution or industry standards.
For example, beginning teachers in Australia earn approximately $68,000 a year, depending on the state they're employed in. This rises to about $100,000 after seven plus years of continuous service.
Alternatively, if you decide to run your own online or home tutoring business, you can set your own hourly rate. This may be anywhere from $20 an hour to $80 an hour or more, depending on your experience, your reputation and the subject you tutor in.
Some English language tutors only work during holiday periods, in between their study, or in the evenings. Your teaching hours are often up to you.
Opportunities to teach abroad are plentiful and many freelance tutors easily find jobs teaching English as a foreign language overseas.
Tutoring companies offer a good alternative if you don't want the hassle of managing your own business. There are many tutoring companies across Australia that offer a range of services — and they are always looking for motivated people who are interested in teaching. In some, you can get a job without a degree, and while many pay an hourly rate, others offer a monthly salary.
Differentiating your English Lessons
As an English teacher, you may be tasked with a range of different age groups, depending on whether you're in the primary school setting, secondary school or adult education. Your preparation, classroom organisation, and management are going to be different for each group — and even two groups at the same level might be totally different. This applies whether you're in a traditional education setting or working as a private tutor.
If you are working in the school setting, teaching students aged from 5 to 18 years old, you will be bound by the Australian Curriculum.
While you may be directed regarding learning outcomes and some content, how you go about teaching, your pedagogy and methodology, are your tools for turning a ho-hum lesson into an engaging, exciting one.
As you put together each lesson plan, there are many factors you need to consider:
- goals and expected learning outcomes
- topic to be covered
- activities to provide relevant learning
- revision and consolidation from previous lessons
- resources needed and their availability
- time allowances
- lesson closure and evaluation
The last point is possibly the most important as this is what your students will leave with, so it should be a summary of the learning that has occurred throughout the English lessons.
When you teach English, there are plenty of opportunities to use action activities and true-to-life examples to help your students understand new concepts. For example, if you have a series of English lessons about verbs, you could organise to run the class outside and have the students act out different verb actions.
As an academic tutor, it is your responsibility to ensure you are up-to-date with the requirements of any exams your students may be taking. Part of your role is to help your students prepare for every aspect of their exams so they can go in feeling confident.
Strategies for test preparation and exam-taking are just as important as the content.
When you become an English tutor, you are also taking on the responsibility of preparing students for speaking, listening, reading and writing in the context of other subjects. Writing skills are particularly important as different subjects require different styles and essay types. In short, you are essentially providing your students with the language skills they need to do well in other areas.
Homework is something else you need to consider, whether you work in a classroom setting or teach English online.
There is no possible way a student can learn everything mentioned in class without reinforcing the subject. — Lew Levine
Any home tasks you provide should reinforce what you're doing in class and allow your students to consolidate their learning, or prepare for upcoming lessons.
Finding Students When You're Ready to Teach English
If you're already teaching in schools as an academic tutor, but are looking for extra work after hours, another option is to become an English tutor, working with ESL students (English as a Second Language.
Applying to teach through tutoring companies is one possibility, or you could freelance. As a private tutor, you can teach English online or provide in-home tutoring.
Where do you find students, though?
Deciding to work for yourself means you will need to do a little self-promotion until you become known. This means advertising. Printing and distributing posters and pamphlets with your name, a photo, contact details, your experience and the tutoring services you offer is fairly easy. Ask if you can put these up in your local schools, community centres, libraries and shops.
Once you get a couple of students, ask them for testimonials or to tell their friends, neighbours and so on. Word of mouth is a very powerful advertising tool.
Teach English Online: Private Lessons via Webcam
Online tutoring is another great option to think about. Where do you find these tutoring jobs?
There are a number of freelance sites available where you can market your services as an English tutor. Think about producing online classes for platforms like Udemy or Skillshare. Or, put together a simple website or social media business page.
Whatever you do — develop a presence.
Again, it's all about self-promotion, and, once you get a few students, start asking for testimonials — and make sure you display them.
Non-native English speakers are constantly looking for help with their IELTS or TOEFL exam preparation, or to provide them with practise and support when they are studying a TEFL course. Your personal experience in this field is invaluable. Such sessions can be taught face-to-face, or via something like Skype — you don't even need to be in the same country with the online option.
Tutoring Students with Dyslexia
Everyone deserves a chance to succeed and this applies to students with special needs and learning difficulties as well. Dyslexia is one of these learning difficulties.
It can be very challenging to tutor young students with dyslexia and you often need to take those extra steps to ensure you have suitable strategies to assist with learning. Students with dyslexia often, at some point in their schooling, suffer from trauma or even depression, because an inability to read and interpret meaning affects almost every subject area.
In the classroom environment, it is particularly important for the student to feel comfortable, a sense of belonging and have the opportunity to build their self esteem. Sensistive and supportive integration is a must.
If you find yourself in a position where you are required to teach English to a student with dyslexia, it will be important for you to understand the problems faced by students with dyslexia and, more importantly, adjust your teaching to suit their specific needs. Explicit phonics is one method that is often linked with dyslexia, however, it really depends on you knowing your students.
There is no one recipe in terms of how children learn to read, no 'one size fits all'. — Robyn Ewing
Dyslexia is characterised by difficulty reading new words and an inability to recognise differences in some words.
Lots of word study, focusing on differences and analysing meaning can often help.
Mnemonics can be a great tool to help aid memory and connections. Using the different senses to experience and explore words can also be useful.
As with all English tutoring, variety and listening to your students' needs is key to success.
If you really want to become an English tutor, the career can certainly be rewarding.