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5 Benefits of One-on-One English Tutors

06/11/2023 / English Tuition

Finding a one-on-one English tutor is a powerful move to help boost skills and confidence in English as a subject. No matter how great a student’s English teacher is, there is something different in the dynamic between a tutor and a student alone compared to that of a classroom setting.

For one, in individual tutoring there’s no chance of random external disruptions, such as distracting behaviour from other students. Another difference is that an English teacher in the classroom can only devote a small portion of their attention to each child, while an English one-on-one tutor can give a hundred percent of their attention to their student.

Beyond these broad factors, there are specific, valuable things that individual tutoring allows for – a kind of unique chemical reaction that happens when a tutor and a student focus on learning together. In this article, we’ll explain some of these benefits of hiring an English one-to-one tutor and why they matter for students with different learning requirements.

Freedom to ask questions

When you think of one-on-one tutoring, you might not automatically think of freedom. But learning with an English one-on-one tutor online can actually be immensely freeing for a child.

This is because the child can learn away from the gaze of other students. A tutoring student is free to ask questions, even questions they feel are “silly” or “obvious,” without worrying about being judged by other students. This is immensely important because it means that a child can clear up misunderstandings that would never be cleared up in the classroom. Likewise, a tutored student can try giving an answer they’re uncertain of without worrying that they’ll be proven wrong in front of their friends.

What’s more, sometimes a tutoring student will find that the questions they wanted to ask weren’t obvious at all – they were deep and thoughtful questions worth considerable discussion.

Even if a student were to bring up a deep question during lesson time, an English teacher might not have time to answer it. Classroom curricula and lesson plans can be restrictive, and teachers might need to move on to the next material, as much as they might prefer to dive into an intellectual conversation.

With an English one-to-one tutor, a student can end up reaching higher levels of thinking and understanding because they’re able to ask those deeper questions and spend time probing the answers.

Learning via discussion

This process of asking and answering can then become a learning conversation – in other words, the Socratic method, which has been recognised as an important way of learning and understanding since ancient Greek times. In fact, teachers in teacher training are often told that they should try not to be “the sage on the stage,” or the person at the front of the room bestowing knowledge on receptive students. However, the day-to-day realities of teaching sometimes make it difficult for teachers not to go back to the approach of standing at the board and giving information.

Moreover, when English teachers do successfully create classroom discussions in which children analyse material, the number of students in the room inevitably means that each child can only get to speak a little. For students who have a lot of thoughts they want to share, this can be frustrating or dull.

On the other hand, with an English one-on-one tutor, a student gets to completely engage in a conversation – for example, about literary analysis. This is often much more interesting than listening to other students’ discussions, which means it can draw in students who don’t really enjoy English otherwise.

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This freedom to ask questions and engage in a real conversation creates something else vastly important for students – confidence.

It’s a known fact in pedagogy that students’ confidence and view of their own abilities can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Students who feel that they’re “not good at English” may end up unconsciously limiting their own performance in one way or another – such as by avoiding an essay because they “know they won’t do well” or by not speaking in class.

A huge benefit of working with an English one-on-one tutor online is that students can start racking up wins. Each question asked is an opportunity to feel good and learn. Each conversation teaches a student that they can have valuable opinions and inputs in English. And if a class discussion ends up connecting to something discussed with a tutor, students can go into the discussion armed with confidence that they’re already on the right track.

In other words, individual English tutoring can lead to a happy chain reaction. Successful learning with a tutor can lead to greater confidence in the classroom, and that greater confidence can start to change a child’s self-image: “I am good at English. The teacher said I was right and made a valuable point.”

This is the feeling that really helps children to reach higher levels of understanding. Working with complex material, whether in English lessons or elsewhere, often requires students to dip their toes into unfamiliar waters and risk being wrong. When a student has a cushion of self-esteem from previous successes, they’re more prepared to go out on a limb and try a risky theory. 

Tailoring to learning style and interests

We’ve already discussed a few of the issues that happen when an English teacher needs to provide instruction for a large group of students all at the same time. Another is that a child’s individual learning style might not be catered for.

All students prefer to learn in different ways. For example, some might prefer to read a chapter and then discuss what happened in it, while others would prefer to read the whole book first and then discuss the text as a whole.

Teachers are taught in teacher training that they should try to provide differentiated instruction, which means instruction that’s more tailored to individual students. This can mean by catering to their interests or by being modified to their abilities (which we’ll discuss in our next point). Often in classrooms this looks like students being divided into small groups with slightly different tasks.

However, in reality this often doesn’t happen as much as teachers want it to. For example, sometimes teachers are just overstretched with work and don’t have the capacity to differentiate.

However, a huge perk of working with an English one-to-one tutor online is that an English tutor can differentiate what’s being taught to fit a student perfectly. If you’re working on writing structure or sentence structure, a student who really loves sailboats or tigers can write a piece every week about sailboats or tigers if they like, as long as they’re working toward those writing goals. Now, a task that was onerous before is suddenly fun and engaging.

Likewise, tutors can differentiate according to learning style. For example, some students who like to visualise things in their minds really love diagrams about writing structure. In this case, a tutor can provide graphic organisers.

The great thing about an English one-on-one tutor is that they can try different approaches until they find something that feels more natural to a student.

Modifying pace and focus to meet student needs

Another way in which instructors can differentiate is by pace and focus. This sort of differentiation can be, again, a challenge for busy teachers, but it’s a great strength for individual tutors.

For example, an English classroom teacher might spend a longer time talking about the aspects of tragedy in Macbeth and less time talking about the clothing metaphor used throughout the play. But what happens if a student grasps the traits of tragedy really well, yet needs more time to talk about just why Macbeth’s clothes matter and whether they really fit him or not?

In this case, an individual English tutor can provide focus on the parts that a student really needs, while not dwelling on material that isn’t needed.

Alternatively, let’s say that a student really needs some help with Shakespearean language that isn’t being given in lessons at all. An English one-on-one tutor can provide some intensive, quick training on “hath” and “doth” so that student doesn’t end up increasingly lost.

Get the unique benefits of one-on-one English tuition with Principal Tutors

As you can see, there really is something special that happens when a student gets the complete attention and focus of an English one-to-one tutor, online or otherwise.

There is one caveat – to get all of these benefits from tutoring, you really need a qualified English teacher who’s familiar with the UK curriculum. Pedagogical concepts like differentiation aren’t something just anyone would know. And only someone who really understands the UK curriculum will have the ability to perceive what’s happening in the classroom, what the student’s English teacher is aiming for, and how a tutor can help their student to get there.

This is why at Principal Tutors all of our tutors are qualified teachers who know the UK curriculum deeply.

What’s more, to get that real tailoring of instruction to a student’s needs, interests and learning style, you need a tutor that’s well matched to a student. That might mean someone who’s an expert in teaching writing, a tutor who’s a pro at Shakespeare, or even one who just happens to be as interested in boating as a child is!

At Principal Tutors, we focus on the student-tutor matchmaking process, ensuring that each child learning with us gets their perfect tutor match.

If you’re keen to start benefiting from all these elements of one-on-one English tutoring, give us a call on 0800 772 0974 to learn more, or go to our online form to begin our tutor matching process today.


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