Job as a language tutor

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Mark Evans is a Spanish language tutor and helps beginners learn the business language skills they may need in their careers as engineers, scientists or mathematicians. He works in a business management school that is attached to a university.

How would you outline your job as a language tutor?

I teach language courses for engineers, mathematicians and scientists who need to speak and understand Spanish for their business.

What are your main responsibilities?

I start by planning lessons based on a core text book we use as an initial teaching aid.

I also need to be aware of the various teaching resources available, ranging from text books, manuals, multimedia packs and, increasingly, websites, and drawing different activities from them to use in class.

I set exercises that give the student practice in listening, reading, writing and speaking, role-plays, question and answer activities, information selection, exchange and communication, as well as correcting and giving feedback.

What hours do you work?

I usually finish by about 5.30 or 6.00pm. This can sometimes be a bit later as I try to prepare all my classes for the next day before I go home.

What's your working environment like?

Seminar rooms are very pleasant, clean, spacious and well-equipped with teaching resources, such as whiteboards, markers, overhead projectors and computers. I share a light, airy office with two other Spanish tutors.

Who do you work with?

My classes consist of between 5 and 15 students. I work in an extremely international, multicultural department – I'm one of only two British teachers of Spanish. My colleagues come from Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Italy.

How much do you use your language skills?

A lot as I couldn't do my job without languages. I only use English during the courses when needed, or to explain particularly challenging grammatical points. It is very important for students, even at beginner's level, to get accustomed to hearing and using the target language.

What training have you done?

I worked for the British Institute for a year and received training to teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) both in the UK and in Chile. Now, I am working towards a qualification in academic practice, which I hope to complete within two to three years. This will enable me to teach to postgraduate level at a university or college.

What special skills do you need for your job as a language tutor?

Enthusiasm is essential, as this not only makes the job more interesting for me, but will determine how students view the course, how motivated they are and how much they want to come to class and participate. Diplomacy skills are a definite part of teaching too.

Do you use any tools or equipment?

Yes. I use whiteboards, board markers and overhead transparencies, which are the basic tools. There is an increasing emphasis on multimedia learning now, which means that I get to use DVDs, videos, music CDs, computer presentation packages and so forth.

Mark's route to his job as a language tutor

  • Worked in a school during his gap year
  • Degree in French and Spanish
  • ESOL training and experience
  • Now working towards a PhD in Spanish Sociolinguistics

Mark's language tutor tips

  • Teaching is well worth all the challenges you will face during training.
  • Research which level of teaching you want to do – it will influence your own training plan.

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Salary of a language tutor

  • Starting salaries at commercial language schools range from around £16,000 to £25,000, depending on experience, class numbers and size of the organisation.
  • Freelance language tutors can charge up to £20 an hour for individual tuition.

How to become a language tutor

  • Bilingual personal assistant Commercial language schools usually require a degree, but fluency in the language may be accepted without formal qualifications.
  • Many universities and language schools prefer their teachers to be native speakers of the language they are teaching.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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