Tutoring jobs for English tutors varies greatly depending on the level of the classes you would like to teach. Qualifications required to teach English will differ for teaching primary, secondary, & university level students.  In Canada, Education is under each provincial jurisdiction and therefore has specific provincial guidelines and curriculums to adhere to, whilst also maintaining the high national standards that Canada is known for.

Teaching English at the Secondary School level  requires a higher level of education, and specific certifications may be required  to teach students for specific test preparations for the Lsat, Gmat, Tefl, Sat's and etc.

Whether you are teaching for Elementary through to Secondary School students, each level has a different syllabus and teaching strategies  may also  need to change according to the age groups. Therefore,  English lessons planning should be carried out keeping the age appropriate or grade levels in mind.

An English lesson should be focused on a specific topic, just as in any other class; but it should also include several activities to help facilitate learning and include activities to make learning fun.

While  planning your lessons, the English tutor should consider firstly how much time would be needed for the lesson, and also what are the specific activities that you might want to incorporate in the class to facilitate learning in your classroom.

Organising the topics is important to consider, along with the sequence of the topics,  so as to best maximise discussions, and the learning process.  This helps to ensure that the students remember or retain any new information from the lesson and builds a good foundation for the subsequent lessons that will expand on the topic.  Try to complete each activity within the lesson so that  students can grasp all the concepts comprehensively, before you move on to the next topic or concept. This builds the students overall proficiency in English and provides the best possible basic skills and proficiencies.

Therefore, the two key factors when organising a lesson should be time allowance and activities, to enhance and optimise learning. Since English classes are usually limited to an hour or two, the English tutor should use the time wisely and effectively.


Without planning, you can not deliver a good lesson
Plan your lessons before hand. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

How to Organise English Lessons 

Language tutoring is possible for students of every age, whether you plan to teach primary students, or high school students, there are countless opportunities to tutor English.   You could also be a university tutor providing private lessons within the university community, or giving private lessons within a learning centre for teenagers or young adults,  or perhaps you prefer to provide tutoring for younger children at an after school Centre or program.   Again the possibilities are endless!


1. Review

It is sometimes prudent to do a review of the previous lesson and to ask your student or students about what they just learned and what concepts they may not be too clear on.  So before beginning the next lesson it is always better to make sure the student understands what has already been discussed,  for clarification or for any further questions they may have to help them better understand your topic or concept.

Reviewing helps the students concentrate on the English topic and stay connected, but also helps to them to build on whatever they learned from the previous lesson. And this is not just true for English but also for Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science or French,  etc.

2.  Introduction

It's always best to start a lesson with a proper a introduction. Writing down on the board the topic to be discussed and what specifically you will be covering, in summarised format that can help them visualise the topic for learning.   For example, if the lesson will be on verbs, the definition of a verb and how they are used in a sentence, and perhaps list the verbs you will be teaching and examples. The same for a lesson on Adverbs, nouns, and etc.

So by giving your students  a brief overview of the lesson before you get into the specifics or details of the topic, and then following through with the lesson plan or summary helps the student learn.

3.  Activities

A critical step in teaching English is also the kind of activities you design to foster learning, and also depends on the age group you are teaching.  To help students retain information in the long term, it's important to use activities that help play a critical role in learning and understanding . Any activity you choose in order to reinforce learning should be designed to enable your students to utilise their new skills they have just been taught.

For example, If you gave them a lesson on clauses and phrases, handing out work-sheets with exercises on them will help your students practice the concepts. Or trying to build on vocabulary using cue cards and games to reinforce the word and its meaning and finding it's synonym, will make learning more interactive and fun.

If you are discussing a poem, ask them to analyse the structure, content and meaning of the poem in a short summary or presentation.  Be inventive, fun and creative in your approach to activities and it will help your students learn quickly.

Involving students in lesson is good for their learning
Ask your students questions to make sure they are understanding your lesson  ( Image Source: Unsplash)

If you are teaching kids at primary or elementary school level, then why not ask them to act out some plays or stories.  Fun or play activities,  like role playing can energise a classroom with young students.

4.  Summarise 

Ending the lesson abruptly is never a good idea,  so reserve the last few minutes as a summary and wrap -up of your lesson.

Remember to end the  lesson with a short review of what you just finishing teaching.  Emphasising the key points of your lesson is the best way to ensure your students grasped the topic.  By asking them a few questions about what they had just learned during the lesson and asking them to give you a few examples,  will show you their level of understanding and comprehension, and summarising also helps them reinforce the main concepts in your lesson.

One-to-One lessons allows you to engage with your student more attentively and therefore you have the advantage of streamlining your lessons to their particular understanding and needs. You can check their writing skills at the same time by asking them to write a short summary of the lesson.

Therefore, constructing your English Lessons with these 4 main points or objectives in mind, will make teaching English classes for any age,  easier and more effective for you as a an English Tutor.

Planning Elementary School English lessons

Primary education focuses on the age group of 5 to 11 years (Senior Kindergarten to Grade 6), with Kindergarten marking compulsory education in Canada.  Some primary schools depending on the region may also have junior kindergarten half day programs for children beginning as early as age 4.  These primary years focus on rapid development of reading skills.  English lessons therefore for primary or elementary school students should reinforce proper pronunciations, phonetics, and amalgamate unknown words to easily identify, and reinforce reading skills early.

Base your lessons on grapheme-phoneme correspondences and continually review as you build reading language skills.  Developing these critical skills, producing sounds of words and encouraging their ability to read comprehensively will help your student excel not only in the English language,  but in their overall academic life.

Encourage your students to learn by reading special interest books to motivate reading,  and continually develops and expands their vocabulary and phonetics skills.  Primary student should be able to identify the unusual correspondences between sound and spellings, and how they occur.   You can construct a lesson plan for example on how to read words containing -es, s, -er, -ing, and -est endings.

Elementary school students are also expected  to spell words having  40+ phonemes that should have already been taught to them,  including exception words, the days of the week,  the alphabets and in its correct sequence etc. English lessons should also include important english language skills, such as adding prefixes and suffixes, applying the rules of spelling, pronouncing words and of course grammar.

English tutors are also required to teach students handwriting at the young primary school ages. Teaching young students how to hold a pencil correctly and the basics, printing the letters of the alphabet and numbers are important first skills to learn and encourage.

Planning Secondary School English Lessons

Secondary School in Canada usually comprises of junior high for  grades 7, 8, and 9,  and senior high for grades 10, 11, and 12 when you graduate at the age of 18.   Education is compulsory in Canada for most provinces up until the age of 16 with the exception of  Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba where education is compulsory until the age of 18.    Students by this stage require that your lessons should be organised so they can get the most out of the lessons because they have greater aptitudes.

By introducing them to new and challenging material to read. Introduce them to fiction and non-fiction novels, poetry, plays, stories covering all kinds of genres, that could instil a life long passion for reading and learning.

Imagine introducing English literature to them,  along with the Plays of Shakespeare, or Bernard Shaw.  Teach them to understand challenging words and texts, and help them to expand their english vocabulary and comprehension to ensure they are able to fully appreciate what they are reading and learning.

Being an English tutor you can help them with vocabulary choices,  proper use of grammar, structure of texts and overall english reading and writing proficiency etc. At this age with their knowledge and skill sets they should be adept with their writing skills,  and should now be able to plan, edit, proof-read and draft.

train your students well
As an english tutor ensure that your students are focused on what you are teaching. ( Image Source: Unsplash)

The topics of your lessons should also include detailed lessons to advance skills on,  adjectives, adverbs, antonyms, auxiliary verbs, clauses, phrases, conjunctions, consonants, nouns, objects etc.

Learn to to manage teaching students with dyslexia here.

If you are planning on teaching older Senior High School students you will be dealing with teens aged 17-18. The English lessons will be more advanced at this stage so you will need to organise your lessons to further develop skills, argumentation, researching and managing information, and analysing various styles and forms of more complicated texts.

Help your students practice for their final exams by giving them short quizzes and frequent tests.   Teach them to analyse fiction and non-fiction, and test their proficiencies in punctuation, grammar, spelling, writing and reading skills.  By testing your students it allows you to monitor their progress and any areas of weaknesses.

Whether you wish to  teach college or elementary school students, you can include various aspects of technology to amplify learning.   Find out where to find students and what your students are interested in and incorporate that into your lessons. Tailor and individualise the content of your lessons to optimise their learning. Remember to take testimonials and feedback from your students to help you improve on your tutoring skills! Learn how to set your English tutoring fees 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.