Some advice for finding an IELTS tutor

Many IELTS candidates find it difficult to practice by themselves and look for an IELTS tutor
A good IELTS tutor can be a great help when preparing for the test.

On the other hand, private classes can be expensive, so it is important to make sure you are spending your money wisely.

Here is some advice for choosing a suitable IELTS tutor who will help you achieve your goal:

Continue reading for advice and tips...

First things first 

Before you look for a tutor make sure you have a clear goal in mind.
  1. Think about what score you need to achieve in the test.
  2. If you have taken the test before, which parts do you need to improve? Perhaps you only need to improve your Speaking or perhaps your scores for Reading and Writing are lower than you need.
  3. Think about how far you are prepared to travel, how many hours you think you need and how much you expect to pay. Be realistic about these.
Finding a tutor

There are plenty of IELTS tutors advertising in your country on the internet.  Some are great, some are only OK and some may not be suitable for your needs. Remember, you need a specialist teacher who understands the IELTS test and common problems so that you can focus on improving for the test.

1. Ask friends and relatives if they know anyone who took the test before - perhaps they can recommend a tutor.  

2. Post online asking for recommendations.

3. Ask English-speaking friends - they may know someone who teaches IELTS

Finding a tutor in Taiwan
If you are looking for an IELTS tutor in Taiwan, feel free to contact me.  I may know a good tutor in your city who can help! Click here for my email address.

Contacting the teacher
It is probably best to contact the teacher first by email. This means that you can be clear about what you need. 

Tell the teacher:
  1. what score you need
  2. what parts of the test you want to concentrate on
  3. the location (city) you want to meet
  4. Your available time

Checking the teacher
Before you agree to classes, check the following things. Most tutors will be happy to provide this information.

1. A resume or CV - you need to see that the tutor has experience teaching IELTS and/or academic English to adults. A tutor who only teaches children, for example, may not be suitable for your needs.

2. A reference or email of a previous student - ask if you can see a reference or contact one of the tutor's previous IELTS students. A good teacher who is confident in their ability and experience will be happy to provide it.

 3. Materials - Ask what materials the tutor will use - a good teacher will have plenty of materials and will choose suitable exercises and activities to help you improve.

4. Writing / Speaking Assessment - Ask how the tutor will grade your writing and speaking. A good tutor will already have a system worked out that is easy to understand and show you how to improve.

Free first hour / level check
Many tutors offer a "free first hour." This gives them a chance to understand your level and your needs and it gives you an opportunity to meet the tutor.

When choosing a location, you have to bear in mind two things - safety and suitability for study. A local fast-food restaurant may be convenient (and cheap!), but too noisy for speaking practice. On the other hand, a quiet coffee shop may be better, but if the tables are low it may be difficult to write notes. Try to find a place which is both safe and suitable for your class.

You are going to meet a total stranger so be careful
  1. Ask a friend to come with you the first time - he/she can read the newspaper/go shopping while you have class. 
  2. Tell your family where you are going and give them the details of the tutor. 
  3. Meet in a public place - not at the tutor's house or apartment (at least the first time).  

Ways to save money
Yes, hiring a private tutor is expensive, but there are some ways to save money.

1. Finding other students can help share the cost of the tutor's time. Most tutors offer a discount for 2 or 3 people.  Make sure you discuss this with the tutor first.

2. Only focus on the parts you need. If your Reading and Listening scores are OK, just spend time with the tutor on Speaking and Writing. Do writing as homework to save time during the class.

3. Ask for a discount on block hours. Most teachers will offer a discount for 3 hours or more at once. Teacher's also like regular times so a weekly class of three hours could be cheaper than three classes of one hour each. Similarly, paying in advance may get you a further discount.

4. Go to the tutor. A tutor may offer a discount if you travel to their local area.

Class cancellation
Make sure you and your tutor agree what will happen if either of you cancels class. Cancelling class at the last minute inconveniences the tutor and they may charge you part or all of the class fee.

After you have achieved your target score, make sure you recommend your tutor to others so that they can continue to offer help and guidance to candidates in the future.