10 Tips for finding a suitable online language tutor

There are literally so many amazing tutors out there and unfortunately some bad ones too… This handy guide highlights some simple procedures to help you make an informed choice when selecting an online new tutor.

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1. Check it out…

DO NOT go with the first profile you see or on that matter the first platform you may use! Italki is a popular choice with over a million students and thousands of teachers. I have used it to learn Italian, Spanish, Icelandic and even Mandarin Chinese! If you sign up using this link you’ll get $10 towards your first lesson, awesome. Another fabulous platform to find a teacher on is ClassGap. What I like about ClassGap is there is no need for Skype as they have their own virtual classroom and to top it off you’ll find tutors for other subjects too – Singing to Science! Learning English, but feeling stuck? OR are you preparing for language learning and feeling overwhelmed? I’m a tutor on ClassGap and you can book a FREE 15-minute chat with me over on the site and check out their awesome virtual classroom.

Remember if you do see a profile that catches the eye don’t forget to bookmark it or save to faves! 

2. Read the profiles thoroughly

What teaching experience do they have? what qualifications have they got? What level do they prefer to teach? If you are a complete beginner I would recommend going with a more experienced tutor.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…

3. References, please

Check out what other students have written about the tutors! BUT take it with a pinch of salt. What works for one student might not work for another and sometimes it’s a clash of personalities, but if they have consistent 2-3 stars and bad reviews maybe set your sights a little higher!

“Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.”

– Gordon R. Dickson


4. Past experiences 

Don’t be put off by having a bad experience with a tutor in the past. They might not have been a really bad tutor, just someone who is unsuitable for you. Just because someone is highly qualified does not automatically mean they may be the right teacher for you. Ask questions before agreeing to work with a tutor.

Personality can be just as important as experiences and qualifications – if not more so.

5. Needs analysis 

What is your learning style learning style? Unsure? A really useful article from the Language Learning Library can help it’s called  Supercharge Language Learning.

Remember a good tutor is one that is flexible to the individual learning needs of their students – one size does not fit all! 

6. Prior planning

Think about how many sessions you require and how long per session? I have found that 1, 60-minute session a week is too much for me. I prefer two 30 minute sessions per week. I feel drained 45 minutes in and find I am no longer paying attention! However, we are all different. What time scale would best suit you?

How much time are you prepared to put into your language learning? Remember you reap what you sow. Take personal responsibility for your learning. 

7. Set a budget 

Do you have a language learning budget in mind? Take this into consideration on Italki professional teachers tend to be more expensive than community tutors. Professional teachers are more likely to provide links to other resources, such as books and handouts. The sessions do tend to be more structured than community tutors. However, that said I got lucky with a teaching student who wanted to get some practice in before she qualified!

Remember a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went! 

8. Question time

Pick your 5 favorite tutors and email them some questions. Remember you are paying them to help you to learn a language. Interview them. Get them to expand on what they have written.  Do you have any disabilities that they need to be aware of, i.e. dyslexia? What could they do to support you with this? How flexible can they be and I am not talking yoga moves? Could they break down hour session into manageable chunks or could they extend an hour session? Do they have packages tailed to suit individual requirements?

To be or not to be (my new online tutor)? That is the question… 

9. Whittle it down…

Out of the five tutors you have selected I now want you to whittle it down to 3. I tend to ditch those that have not responded to my email within 48 hours. Out of that 3, I will do the trial sessions and make a decision based on that and the packages they offer. Due to the language challenges that I like to take part in I need tutors to respond quickly and have available spaces from day 1.

“Your best shot at happiness, self-worth and personal satisfaction – the things that constitute real success – is not in earning as much as you can but in performing as well as you can at something that you consider worthwhile”.

– William Raspberry

10.  Set a schedule

1 tutor for 1 hour a week or 2 tutors 30 minutes a week. whatever works for you. Work at your own pace to a schedule that suits you. I like to kick start my language learning with a 3-month challenge that puts me in the best possible position to have a 10-15 minute conversation in 90 days.

“You gotta make it a priority to make your priorities a priority.” 

― Richie Norton

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