For many test takers, enrolling in a full-time preparation course or even a part-time program isn’t an option. Few are afforded the time to commit to a Monday-to-Friday study schedule and for others there are simply too many variables in their day-to-day lives to register for any fixed-schedule preparation. While online, go-at-your-own-pace programs are easy to find, there are still limitations: there may be a time limit for using the program, it will most likely not include specific feedback tailored to the test takers needs, and it puts the onus to study entirely on the test taker’s shoulders. This is why a private instructor may be the only logical option a person really has. Here are some pros and cons of English language private tutors.
The Hourly Rate
The obvious drawback is, of course, the cost. For a qualified English-language instructor, expect to pay $40 per hour or more for one-on-one test preparation. If you hire a private instructor through an accredited language school, expect to pay double or even triple that amount. Understand that there are a limited number of trained and experienced instructors in this field. Once a teacher receives any official training for a test such as IELTS or CELPIP, their next move is to begin teaching classes for a school that can offer medical benefits and guaranteed hours. Similarly, they may pursue test marking, invigilating, and in some cases test development. The point is that very few professionals opt for private lessons as a career. The hours fluctuate, students regularly cancel or request last-minute changes, so teaching a full-time or part-time program becomes a much more logical route. Test takers and students sometimes fail to consider that a private tutor does not receive any paid vacation time or medical benefits or retirement package form an employer since they are self employed. While the hourly rate may seem high, the out-of-pocket costs for the instructor do not make it an appealing career choice. What test takers are left with are self-employed private tutors who possibly can’t find full-time employment as an instructor based on a lack of qualifications. Here are two pieces of advice:
- Hire a private instructor through an accredited English language institution.
- If you do elect to hire a private instructor outside of a school, find someone who is employed in the same area that you are studying and is only doing a small number of private lessons for extra income.
It’s Your Time
The main benefit to hiring a private instructor is having a lesson or multiple lessons designed and delivered only to you, the test taker. For a skill such as writing, test takers often have various strengths and weaknesses, and while these can be highlighted in a group class, you will be able to go into much more depth in a one-on-one situation. Consider the simple fact that your instructor will not be pulled away to assist anyone else; it’s all about you. For a skill like speaking, working in a class is typically the recommended way to go since you can work with different classmates who speak with other accents than your own. But when you’re stuck at a 6.5 in IELTS Writing, for example, and only need to advance to band 7, a private tutor is the wisest choice.
Try, Try Again
If you’ve written a test such as IELTS or CELPIP and you’re achieving the scores that you need in every section except one, hiring a private tutor becomes the most viable option to get the results that you need. It’s rare to find a one-skill preparation class and near impossible that the students in that class would all be at the same level. Classes are limited by a schedule and a mandate to complete all the sections of a text book or a set of material. Granted, for most students this is still hugely beneficial. For example, if a test taker hasn’t done much writing practice for the CELPIP test, a class would be favourable. It would cover structure, connecting ideas, vocabulary, tone, and content. Compare that to someone who has done quite a bit of preparation already, written the test twice, and is consistently receiving a score of 8 on CELPIP Writing. Chances are this person is weak in one or two areas – perhaps the tone is inappropriate or the meaning of their task is not clear. Taking a class at this point in time would most likely help, but a private instructor would be able to pinpoint the test takers weak spots within the first lesson and maybe correct them in the second lesson. In short, it would be more efficient, more directed to the specific needs of the test taker, and it would ultimately take less time.
The Bottom Line
Preparing for a high-stakes exam is stressful enough and without any guidance, test takers can find themselves spending hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. If a test taker doesn’t consider the pros and cons of English language private tutors, it may cost that person months of their life in inefficient preparation methods.
If you’re unsure about which preparation option is best for you, contact us today and we’ll be happy to arrange a free appointment with one of our advisors. We’re always happy to help.