The 6 Best Qualities of an ESL Tutor Near You
Poet Robert Frost once said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Truly extraordinary ESL tutors not only teach their students about the English language, but provoke within them a yearning to continue the learning process. Let’s look at six qualities an ESL tutor should possess.
- Understanding where students are coming from
There is an entire globe of various cultures that can be vastly different from America. An ESL tutor needs to understand the backgrounds of their students and where they’re coming from. Not just geographically, but in terms of their mindset and outlook on life. Many students could be coming from dangerous or stressful environments and their life at home could be one of upheaval, family problems, and the huge adjustment to a new culture.
There are massive cultural differences from country to country. An ESL tutor should be compassionate and aware of their students’ backgrounds at all times. It’s not just a great quality – it’s also respectful for each student.
- A positive attitude
It’s difficult enough to come to a new culture and try a new language, without having to struggle to understand basic words and concepts. An ESL tutor should keep and maintain a positive attitude for his/her students. Great tutors enjoy interacting with learners, getting to know them, encouraging them, and taking an active role in at least one aspect of their lives: learning English.
It’s also one of the best qualities of an ESL tutor that they have passion for their subject. There are amazing things for an ESL student to read in original English, plus it’s fast becoming one of the great “universal” languages in the world. It shouldn’t be a chore for a student to learn English; rather, it should be something they look forward to mastering. An ESL tutor with a positive attitude can translate to a better student experience and a better English-speaking student as well.
- Staying flexible
From various cultural backgrounds to changing lesson plans and daily issues that crop up, an excellent ESL tutor needs to be flexible enough to change and adapt. It’s best to be prepared and understand that things will not always go according to plan. What’s easy for one student might be ultra-challenging for another. Students need patience and guidance as they learn English. It’s not an easy language!
While moving towards their students’ goals, the ESL tutor should maintain flexibility. If the student is having trouble with one subject area, it’s best to help them with that, rather than maintaining a stricter schedule. A flexible ESL tutor will be more successful than an inflexible one.
- Sufficiently knowledgeable
English is a difficult and challenging language to learn, since it comprises so many other languages. Plus, there’s common slang, idioms, and phrases that native English speakers just know that students wouldn’t. English is also structured differently than many other languages, including German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese. The nouns, verbs, and past tense words are in a different order. So, the students are not just absorbing new vocabulary words, but also rearranging a lifetime’s worth of sentence structures in their heads.
That’s why it’s so important for an ESL tutor to be sufficiently knowledgeable not just about English, but about the student’s original language. They need to know how the student is thinking about language in their heads, before they can learn English and speak it or write it. The ESL tutor should also have an in-depth knowledge of English and its various grammar, spelling, punctuation, tense, and sentence rules.
- Organized with goals
A great ESL tutor should be organized and have goals that they want to reach with their learners. Being organized is also respectful towards the student’s time and eliminates wasted time searching for papers or not knowing what to study next. It’s can be a complicated balance between organization and flexibility, so the ESL tutor should be both prepared and ready to change.
The ESL tutor will also work with their learner to develop goals that are in alignment with what the student wants. Would they like to develop conversational English, get a job in an English-speaking country, or get into an English-speaking college? These goals vary from student to student.
- Excellent lesson delivery
When it comes down to it, the best ESL tutors know how to make the most of each session and can deliver their lesson in a way that’s best for the student to learn. Would they learn better with visual pictures and flashcards, or are they more verbal and prefer the lesson delivered as a story? What about the actual learning – does the tutor deliver online courses, using technology? Or, do they exclusively work one-on-one in person?
Each student will learn differently, so the tutor should be flexible enough to alter their teaching methods to suit that learner. The student will also tell the tutor what they’re having trouble with, so that the tutor can go back over that subject and help them. Ultimately, one of the best qualities in an ESL tutor is the ability to make each lesson both enjoyable and educational.