Do you have a passion for the English language? And would you love to make a living, or supplement your current income, sharing that passion with others? If so, becoming an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tutor could be perfect for you. But how would you go about this? Do you need special qualifications? And how would you find and attract your students?
What Qualification Do I Need to Become an ESOL Tutor?
Although you aren't legally barred from being a private tutor without qualifications, you'll probably need a teaching licence to teach ESOL, which means you'll need at least a bachelor's university degree. This should ideally be in either English or Education, but a degree in a foreign language may also be suitable. In fact, it can be a great advantage to have studied a foreign language, even if this isn't your main degree. This is because the experience will help you empathise with your students' struggles to learn English and to design courses that will be easy to follow. Besides the qualifications themselves, the more experience you have in the education system, the better you're likely to understand the process. If you've undertaken extra study that isn't directly related to ESOL teaching, this can still stand you in good stead.
What Other Training Would Be Useful?
Besides a degree in English or Education, you should also take a course in ESL (English as a Second Language) or TELF (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). This will prepare you not only for understanding the English language and knowing how to teach, but specifically how to design and deliver courses for speakers of other languages. This may include teaching grammar, assessing progress and conducting a conversation class. There are various courses available, of varying lengths. In general, online courses are likely to be the cheapest and most convenient options on offer, and some are relatively low cost.
How to Get a Teaching Licence
You'll probably need a teaching licence to become an ESOL tutor, which means you'll have to demonstrate your ability to teach effectively. There are circumstances in which you can get away without one, but it's generally better to be on the safe side. In any case, a teaching licence will be one more point in your favour when attracting students. A teaching licence is a more practical qualification than an English degree, or even an Education degree. It's one thing, after all, knowing what you're doing, and an entirely different thing being able to teach it.
How Do I Find Students to Teach?
Rather than immediately setting up as a private tutor, one option to consider would be to work as an English language teaching assistant abroad. Obviously, this wouldn't be suitable if you have too many ties or commitments, but it would be perfect if you want to combine the experience with learning a foreign language yourself. There are various paths for finding positions like this. For example, you could apply to the British Council for a job.
If you prefer to go straight into being a self-employed private tutor, however, there are two ways of going about attracting students. You could advertise locally, from cards in shop windows to taking space in local papers, and hope for the best. Or you can register with TutorExtra, where you'll be visible to students all over the country who are searching for someone just like you.