Teaching English in your own home is all about people and sharing information. To be successful at one-to-one English teaching you have to be able to bring your experience, knowledge and personality to the lessons. Your student will be staying in your home so you also have to a welcoming host. If you are considering becoming a home tuition teacher or if you have recently become one, here are some tips for becoming a great teacher.
Use your experience
Many people come to English language teaching after successful careers and experiences in other fields. Very often you can draw on these skills and experiences when teaching. Indeed many students are pleased to have a teacher who has a background in a particular area such as marketing, sport, academia, engineering or administration. When we place students, we do our best to match students with teachers.
Using your contacts you might be able to arrange meetings and experiences that will be particularly beneficial and nearly always very appreciated by your student.
Hospitality is key
Feeling comfortable, welcome and relaxed is really important for learning and a successful homestay.
It is easy to get carried away with getting through your planned lessons or covering a particular teaching point. However, from your student’s point of view the most important thing is to feel comfortable as a guest, after all homestay is quite intensive and both you and your student will be spending a lot of time together.
For your student, it might be their first time away from their family or their first time abroad experiencing a different culture. They may worry over the right etiquette at meal times or how to use the bathroom or how to say they have had enough food. Of course, discussing cultural differences is a great subject for conversation!
You don’t need to be a linguist
Hosting and teaching students requires many skills and many are not language related. Having an interest in people and being empathetic is as important as understanding the minutiae of grammar. However, it is beneficial to try to find out a little about your student’s language. 20 minutes on the Internet will give you an insight into what linguistic barriers they could well have. A great book to consult is Learner English by Swan and Smith, Cambridge.
On a fundamental level, many languages have similar building blocks, which perhaps should not be a surprise. They have verbs, refer to time, have punctuation indicate politeness, show levels of formality etc. However, how this is done is different.
Teaching English will, somewhat ironically, teach you about other languages. It’s one of the fun parts of ELT!
Remember to review what you have taught but not to expect learner to use new language perfectly as soon as it is taught. Language often needs to be digested for days, weeks or even months. As you get more experienced, you will develop an intuition for what needs to be covered and lesson planning speeds up enormously.
Use your local area
If you are considering offering home tuition why not start to think about what you can see and do locally.
On most courses, it makes sense to integrate lessons with activities. Many of these activities can be local and often show interesting aspects of British culture. There are charity and fundraising events, local shows, followed later on by fetes and carnivals. What great opportunities they are for students to practise their English and have a taste of real British life.