Once you decide to become a teacher/tutor, you realise that it is a demanding job as much as it is a rewarding job. Before you decide to take up a teaching job, it is prudent to do your research and take note of what's involved.

You could become a maths tutor, chemistry tutor, a French tutor, algebra tutor or biology tutor but becoming an English tutor has some privileges.

English skills are crucial for succeeding not only English class, but in other classes which students take as well where writing and communication skills are critical.  Due to this fact, English teachers are provided with a plethora of teaching opportunities. They can teach an amalgam of literary genres ranging from classic, fiction, film, web-based media, non-fiction etc.

A good quality English education enables students to speak and write fluently in English. Their communication skills improve and they are able to convey their ideas and emotions in a much better way. They also develop necessary listening and reading skills which help them improve their learning skills all around.

51.6% of the internet is in English, so the best way to get the maximum benefit of all this immense knowledge available online,  is to be proficient in English!

What does an English tutor do?

English tutors or teachers are responsible for teaching English as a subject, by following certain curriculum guidelines. They are responsible for sharing and teaching,  their extensive knowledge of English to their students.

As an English teacher, they promote a high standard of English both as a language and as a medium of literature. They ensure that their students are getting an excellent command of the language, in not only reading but also in writing and speaking skills. Some of the responsibilities of teachers include:

  • Planning lessons, activities, assignments and homework
  • Developing excellent reading and writing  and communication skills
  • Development of  Grammar and Expanding Vocabulary of students
  • Improving and promoting greater literacy by  the study of English books, novels, stories, poetry, etc
  • Reviewing and Assessing student's work to identify weaknesses
  • Monitoring student's progress and helping them improve
  • Preparation of  materials and knowledge of books and resources 
  • Preparing English exams and tests for practice and grades assessment
  • Giving engaging lectures rich with information and knowledge
  • Meeting and discussing with parents their child's individual progress
Conduct productive activities
The best teachers  engage with their students. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

Our Guide to Teaching English

Students learning English, are usually from  a diverse range of backgrounds. Teaching english is an opportunity for you to utilise the English language to analyse, construct and share new ideas and knowledge to your students, helping them become proficient in the language to succeed academically. Excellent English skills ensures that a student can communicate their ideas effectively, a crucial skill in excelling in all areas of academia.  As an English teacher,  you must first decide and focus your studies on what age or grade level, whether Primary or Secondary School students, that you hope to teach.   In Canada the  necessary qualifications also depend upon which province in Canada you wish to teach.

The national curriculum is designed to ensure that the students learn the following:

  • The students get a full command over the language; good reading fluency and comprehension
  • Acquire early reading skills in Primary school, and is the primary language of communication
  • Students develop knowledge of the linguistic conventions required for reading, speaking and writing
  • Students expand their vocabulary and develop good understanding of the rules of grammar
  • Exposed to the rich variety and heritage of the literary pieces found in English language
  • Promote and develop their love of reading English novels, short stories, poetry, all genres
  • Develop good writing skills;  ability to write with style, accuracy and coherence
  • Practice and develop productive arguments and discussions to maximise learning and critical thinking
  • Learn to participate in debates and demonstrate strong presentation skills

Once you become an English tutor, you would be expected to put your training of literature, reading and writing to use. Helping your students to obtain excellence in English and maximising their learning potential helps them to succeed overall.

What qualifications do you need to teach English?

Most schools require English teachers to have a minimum qualification of Bachelor's with a concentration in English education. Apart from that, to teach in English as a core subject, in a Canadian Secondary School, you need to have a minimum of a 4 year Bachelors degree from a university with a major in English or English Literature, or a Bachelors in Humanities.  In addition you must complete a Teacher's College program to obtain Teaching qualifications as accredited by the Provincial College of Teachers where you plan on teaching.

The requirements for you to train as a Certified teacher in Canada are regulated under each Provincial jurisdiction , are in general as follows:

  • Work experience of teaching in a school. Volunteer experience in schools.
  • A High School or Secondary School Graduation Diploma
  • A minimum 4 year Degree in English Literature or English Language or Bachelors of Education. Successful completion of the Provincially Accredited Teachers College program of usually 2 years. For example in Ontario you must have successfully have completed 4 semesters at a Teacher's education program or Teachers college.
  • During the application process of your training course, you must pass the professional skills test of numeracy and literacy

As a part of teacher training program, you will take courses in classroom management, various teaching strategies, assessment of students and differentiated instructions. You will also acquire the experience of teaching students by becoming a part of a real classroom.

Your personality and qualifications matter a lot
You need to hustle to become a reputable teacher. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

To tutor upper level programs such as post-secondary or university level, the prospective English tutors are also required to obtain a Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree in Education.

Teaching Primary School English

The English tutoring from Kindergarten through to end of Primary School involves a program of study around

  • English Reading
  • English Writing
  • Early Word reading
  • Listening and reading comprehension

Primary students learn to quickly pronounce new and unfamiliar words along with the familiar ones.

Phonics is imperative and should be taught at the early stage of teaching reading so that the young students develop an understanding of the letters and their sound in spoken words. A good linguistic knowledge helps the young learner in vocabulary, comprehension, and  especially of grammar.

Reading greatly encouraged with a wide range of short stories and interesting activities, to help the development of their comprehension skills.  The habit of reading should be promoted as early as possible.

Reading regularly expand a child’s interest and in turn their vocabulary. Reading also serves to fuel the imagination, exposing the child to whole new worlds and fuels their curious young minds. It can be the beginning of a love for reading that will last their lifetime!

English Writing

The writing program also include two modules :

  • Spelling and Handwriting
  • English Composition or Writing;  speech and writing based upon ideas
Lecture should be fully organized
Plan your lectures strategically is critical to teaching. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

The primary focus is around teaching young students to begin recognising and writing down words. They are able work on their weaknesses, learn to spell accurately know the relationship between letters (phonetics) and their sounds.

A good vocabulary along with good grammar skills, is critical in effective composition, improving clarity and and content of a students writing.  These skills start early and is an important fundamental part of teaching primary students, to master early competencies upon which to build their english proficiency as they progress through the years.

What Skills and experience do you need to teach English?

One of the most important things that future employers will look at when hiring an English teacher or tutor is whether they have any prior teaching experience. You may have an outstanding level of English and be able to cite any definition at the drop of a hat, but you won't be a successful tutor if you aren't able to effectively transmit that knowledge to your students. Remember that teaching takes practice! The more students that you encounter, with different levels and learning styles, the better you'll get at teaching a variety of different students. You'll be able to evaluate each students strengths and weaknesses, and tailor your lessons in order to best meet their needs.

In terms of key skills, here are just a few of the most critical skills that you'll need to have if you are even considering teaching English to students at any level.

  • Excellent vocabulary and spelling
  • Clear and concise communication skills
  • Excellent grasp of grammar and syntax
  • Knowledge of English literature and culture
  • Great Writing Skills

On top of these traits that make you an excellent English teacher, in order be an excellent tutor in general you'll need to have the following qualities

Be Adaptable: you'll encounter many different types of students with different personalities, different interests, and different levels. It's important that you adapt your lessons and teaching style in order to best meet the needs of each of your students. Be flexible and don't be afraid to change the format of your lessons or try out different strategies based on each individual student. For example, if you find

Motivate your students: try to maintain a positive attitude when teaching and be as encouraging as possible with your students. If you find that a student is struggling, try to be as patient as possible and try to practice exercises that will help the to overcome their weaknesses. On the other hand, for students that have a particular strength or interest in a subject, then encourage them to pursue these interests. For example, a student may be interested in creative writing so you could ask them to read some of their work and provide valuable feedback.

Be Creative: try to keep things interesting and always try to relate your lessons back to every day life or subjects that you know may be of interest to your students. For example, you could discuss a recent news article or do a comparative analysis between a book they are reading for class and a film or a series By venturing out from the traditional curriculum from time to time, this may help to keep your students motivated and encourage them to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom.

Stay organised: planning your lessons and exercises ahead of time are essential in making sure that you are meeting your goals and covering all the material your student needs to learn during their tutoring sessions. By staying organised, you'll be able to use your time more efficiently and have a greater chance of success!

Become a Private English Tutor

The requirements mentioned above are for those who intend to become an official English teacher in a school or college, and for those who want to offer their tutoring jobs in high schools and universities.

Academic teaching is not the only way to become an English teacher or tutor.  You can teach English as a Second Language (ESL) for those wishing whose primary language is not English, with Tefl, or Celta certificate.  You can find online teaching jobs or private tutor jobs as well depending on your other qualifications and experience.

  • Mentor high school students taking their Final Exams , SAT, Gmat, Lsat, etc.
  • Work from home or work in a tutoring centre or a language school
  • Start finding and advising for private students on other standardised tests preparations like Tefl. You can provide tefl courses and training. For that, you would need to have tefl certification
  • Become a freelance tutor,  is a great way for you to become an online educator.
  • Own  a tutoring business,  and hire the best tutors to help you run your tutoring centre
  • Become a peer tutor!  Help other tutors with his/her group of ESL Students
  • Provide summer tutoring opportunities
  • Start home based tutoring sessions
  • Tutor English as a foreign language students, at home and internationally
  • Teach abroad. Look for job placement in other countries which have teaching positions open for Native speakers.

How much can I earn as an English tutor?

This is one of the most important questions to think about when considering becoming an English tutor. The answer to this question will depend on a number of different factors.

  • Your level of experience (how many years of teaching experience do you have)
  • What certifications you have
  • The level of English you are teaching (elementary school, high school, university level)
  • The city in which you are living in (rates are often higher in larger cities such as Toronto and Ottawa)
  • Are you tutoring privately or working with an agency
  • The format of your lessons: online lessons, in-person lessons

In general, the more experience you have the more you can charge for your hourly tutoring lessons. If you are just starting out as a full-time English tutor, your fees will be around $18-$20/H. However, if you are a qualified teacher with many years of experience, you are more likely to be charging between $30-$40/h depending on the level you are teaching.

Your earnings will also depend a great deal on your availability. Will you be teaching part-time in the evenings and on weekends to supplement your income? Or maybe you are looking to tutor full time in which you'll have a much more flexible schedule and ability to take on more clients and hours of  teaching.

By choosing to work privately or with an agency, this can also have an important impact on your earnings as a private English tutor. One of the advantages of working with an agency, is that students will often be assigned to you, so you won't have to worry as much about actively finding students and advertising your services. On the other hand, you may also have less flexibility in organising your own schedule, setting your own rates, selecting your students, and the methodology of teaching. Additionally, agencies will take a commission from the lessons and may also charge you for utilising their services.

On Superprof Canada, you have the opportunity to advertise your services for free by publishing a tutoring ad outlining your teaching methodology and experience. You'll be able to set your own hourly rates and organise your own teaching schedule through the platform.

Can I teach English online?

There has been a rapid growth in online learning platforms over the past year, making online tutoring easier than ever. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, more schools have taken their classes online in order to ensure the safety of their students. As a result, there has been a rapid growth in the demand for online education platforms around the world, not only for teaching English but across all academic subjects. Teaching English online has never been easier with a growing number of resources available. As an English tutor nowadays, it's important to take full advantage of the diverse range of resources available. In addition to the traditional textbooks and exercise books, don't be afraid to get creative and use resources such as Youtube videos, Ebooks, games, education blogs, and apps to help your students learn and to make your classes more interesting.


It's important to have the right equipment when planning lessons online.

One of the main concerns of English teachers when considering whether to take their lessons online, is whether the classes have the same level of effectiveness online as they do in person. Some teachers worry that technical difficulties can prevent lessons from being carried out in the most efficient way possible. For example, this may be due to problems such as hearing or seeing the student, or issues with internet connection which can eat into valuable lesson time. Given that being able to communicate clearly is so critical for giving English lessons is a major consideration for English teachers. However, with recent improvement in technologies such as Zoom and Skype then this these kind of technical problems are becoming less and less common. The key to preventing these kind of issues is preparation. It's important to familiarise yourself with the different kinds of software that you are using. Try out Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or any other platforms you may wish to use beforehand and get to know the different functionalities before you start your class, and always ask your students to do the same!

Advantages of becoming an Online English teacher

One of the biggest advantages of teaching English online, whether you are teaching Academic English or ESL, is that you are not limited to teaching students within your own neighbourhood but can teach students all around the world! There are millions of students around the world- from Peru to Greece to Thailand, looking for native English speakers to teach them English. It can be extremely enriching to teach students from a variety of different backgrounds, languages, cultures and levels of English!

One thing that will help to make you stand out amongst all other tutors, is by getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate. By getting the proper training to teach English as a foreign language, this will put you miles ahead of the competition. You'll not only learn the formal rules of the English language, but you'll learn how to teach them in a clear and concise way. Sometimes as native speakers we know grammar rules instinctively, but we were never formally taught them and so are not always aware that they exist. The TEFL certificate will help you to learn these rules in a formalised way so that you may teach them to your students.

On top of the write certifications, you'll need to make sure that you have the right experience. Whether you choose to work privately or for an agency, employers will look to see whether you have adequate teaching experience. This doesn't necessary have to be formal experience as a school teacher, but can also include things like mentoring, tutoring, working at summer camps etc. Be aware that you may also need to show proof of formal education, for example you may be asked to send over diplomas and other teaching certifications when applying for teaching jobs online and with an agency.

Another great advantage of teaching English online, is that you'll be able to schedule your lessons according to your own schedule. When teaching students in different time zones, this opens up more opportunities to give lessons at different hours of the day. You'll also be able to work from the comfort of your own home, at a café, a library, or wherever you may be travelling! Teaching English online gives you a great deal of flexibility in the way you choose to earn your income. You aren't limited to teaching lessons from home, so you can travel around the world while still earning an income! If you're working as a freelancer, you can book as many lessons as you'll need to finance your trips around Asia. Just make sure that wherever you are staying has a good internet connection that will allow you to carry out your classes.

What's the best way to teach English online?

There are a number of ways to teach English online, depending on your location, your schedule and the frequency with which you will be giving lessons. Just like any lesson (online or in person), you'll need to make sure that your lessons are well-organised, structured and tailored to each individual students' needs. You'll want to set tangible objectives for your lessons and ensure that you are regularly evaluating your student to measure their progress.

Many tutors opt to teach online through an agency that organises lessons through their platform and recruits tutors to give lessons to students. This may be a great alternative for someone just starting out with online teaching, as it can provide a platform and guidance about how to run lessons. However, agencies may also be less flexible about when you can teach and will often set you a fixed schedule. For most agencies, there will be a small commission fee for every lesson you teach or there may be certain administration fees when you first join. It's highly recommended to do your research about the different types of agencies and teaching websites that you can use to teach English classes online.

How should I plan my online English lessons?

Just as you would plan for in-person English lessons, it's important to plan in advance for your lessons taught online. You'll also want to establish ahead of time on the type of platform you will be using to carry out your lessons and ask your student to test out their equipment before the lesson. Ahead of the lesson, you'll want to make sure that you have the following things ready in advance:

  • Platform for lessons (Skype, Google Hangouts
  • Webcam
  • Microphone
  • Exercises and solutions
  • Lesson plan - list of main concepts you will cover during the lesson
  • Review of concepts from previous lesson
  • Practice speaking and evaluate your student's oral communication
  • Make use of online resources: videos, blogs, applications, games etc.
  • Cover different aspects of the English language in your lessons: vocabulary, grammar, writing, reading and oral communication
  • Tests and assignments
  • Make time to get feedback from your students

Key Takeaways

Whether it is teaching abroad that interests you, teaching English as a Second Language students, teaching students  online, teaching business English, or volunteering and teaching english at a school in another country, or providing tefl training to students,  the demand for English teachers is high all around the world. So you have a world of opportunities open to you teaching english, so why not take the opportunities and earn more from tutoring!

Learn to to manage teaching students with dyslexia here.

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Yvette is a freelance Canadian writer living in Paris. She spends her time between Toronto and Paris and likes to travel and learn. She's the proud mom of two strong minded women and enjoys her free time giving back to her communities.