During the last month, I have decided to take a new step in my language career. I now have a small part time, independent job as an online Spanish language tutor. In what does it consist? What is the difference with being a proper language teacher? What are the methods you can use when you don’t live close to other language learners? I will try to answer these questions according to my experience and what has suited me and my tutorees best.
A language tutor is an educated native speaker of the language that does not need to have an extensive lingusitic or language teaching background. He or she is very aware of how language works due to their academical or language learning formation. They may lack some preparation in certain concepts, but they can make it up by grabbing a good grammar book of their language or remembering their schooling days. Their work differs from a language teacher since the service they offer targets language learners who already have a solid base on the language and need further practice in a certain aspect of the language, a certain topic they need to be more comfortable with (business language, travel contact, academical language, et al.). Most of the work they do is through oral language, yet they can also do written practice from time to time. Mind you, it is a complementary work for learners who have a specific issue with their target language and need to address it.
One of the goals of tutoring in a certain language is making the language learner feel comfortable with their language skills and being able for them to express with no major issues about topics they are interested in. Thus, a language tutor won’t interrupt a learner in the middle of a conversation or so to correct. He or she will be most likely to jot down observations on a piece of paper or so and he or she will let you know when you stopped talking or writing their observations: good and things you need to work on and how they can be solved.
A language tutor also will have to plan their sessions before hand, besides looking at each other’s schedules. If a tutoree wants to work on business language, the tutor will be most likely to contact the tutoree and give him/her a set of topics to prepare: newspaper articles, short TV features about the topic and the tutoring session will be devoted around those issues: a short summary, an opinion and so that will be a good instance to introduce new vocabulary, grammar and even cultural codes of the target language.
Right now, language tutoring is a service mostly offered online on sites like Fiverr.com, iTalki.com, Tandem.me, among other sites. Some tutors are willing to explain their methods on their introduction or even show you a small video with their methods or so. Also, comments or sample videos are important to check if the Tutor fits what is expected or so.
In conclusion, language tutoring is just like any other language-related job that deserves respect for preparation or hard work involved in the academical preparation of tutors and even the time they spend on preparing their sessions. It is not an easy job or for every one as you must be ready to answer most questions or explain aspects of your language and a mere “it’s because we do it this way” is a 100% wrong answer.
Have you considered being a language tutor? Have you used one of their services? Are you a language tutor? Share your experiences in the comments.
If you are interested to contact me as a Spanish language tutor, you can contact me through my iTalki profile. I am more than happy to work for you in your Spanish learning process.