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How to Find a Good English Tutor

06/11/2023 / English Tuition

There’s really no student who can’t benefit from English tutoring.

The subject area of English language and literature is so broad that English tutoring includes a vast variety of different skills – reading comprehension, literary analysis, essay writing, fiction writing, argument and rhetoric, grammar and many more. Even the most proficient student will find they could benefit from polishing their skills in one of these areas. And since it’s almost impossible for teachers to dive into all of these subjects in depth in the classroom, there’s always an opportunity for tutoring to enrich and fill out a student’s understanding in one topic or another.

But when you’ve decided that you would like to seek out an English tutor, where do you start? How do you know where to find English tutors? Crucially, how do you know how to find a good English tutor who will truly improve your child’s abilities?

If you’ve been pondering one or all of these questions, this article is for you. We’re here with advice to help you find just the right excellent English tutor you’ve been hoping for.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is…

What do you need in a tutor?

As in any project, the first task in seeking out a good English tutor is to decide your goals and specifications. There are some elements that are must-haves, and there are some things you’ll want in an English tutor to meet specific needs of your student.

Must-have: professional English teacher training

The first thing that you absolutely need in an English tutor is professional qualifications in English teaching.

It’s understandable why some people think that a local university student or someone similar might be able to help their child learn. But actually, someone who’s able to write a good essay of their own won’t necessarily be able to teach a child to do the same. There are unique skills that only a trained English teacher possesses.

Firstly, you need an English tutor who truly has deep subject content knowledge. This means things like:

  • Really understanding grammar and being able to teach it in terms of concepts like compound and complex sentences and parts of speech.
  • Being able to interpret Shakespeare and older works of literature that include vocabulary we no longer use.
  • Being able to assess the level of skill in an essay.

However, content knowledge is what we call a necessary but not sufficient condition. In other words, you need English content knowledge, but English know-how by itself isn’t enough.

You also need pedagogical knowledge – knowledge about how to teach and how children’s minds learn.

This includes concepts like:

  • The skills expected of a child at each age.
  • Communicating complex ideas in a way that students can understand.
  • Guiding students toward deeper analysis through discussion.
  • Understanding child psychology and how to encourage a student.

So, is it enough to hire a trained English teacher as your English tutor?

Actually, there’s one more point that’s crucial…

Must-have: familiarity with the curriculum

You need an English teacher who truly understands the curriculum that’s shaping your child’s lessons in school.

An English teacher trained in the USA, for example, might be used to a curriculum that works differently from the one your child’s teacher is using. Other curricula can focus on different skills at different ages, can put more weight on analysing nonfiction rather than fiction, and so on.

You also need a teacher who’s intensely familiar with the texts that your child will be working with – and the main ideas that should be explored with each.

This is why you need a teacher who understands not only English as a subject and pedagogy in general, but the English texts and skills that will be taught in your child’s classroom.

These are the two points that are absolutely essential for your English tutor. Beyond these, you should also consider some other aspects that can help ensure your tutor fits their student’s needs.

Good to consider: specific areas of teaching skill

Before you start hiring a private English tutor, you’ll want to consider what specific area of English you’ll be focusing on in tutoring.

While all qualified English teachers should be prepared to teach all areas of the subject, you’ll often find that some teachers have a passion for or particular expertise in certain topics.

If your child needs help with writing, perhaps you can find an English tutor who’s taught writing workshops before. If your student needs help with Shakespeare, a tutor who’s a huge Shakespeare buff would be fantastic.

You can also consider if there are aspects of teaching style or approach that would work best for your student. If your child is a very visual learner, a teacher who’s apt at creating graphic organisers for organising thoughts might be a great fit. If your child has ADHD or other special educational needs, then a teacher who’s got some extra training in SEND would be ideal.

Hire a private online English tutor >

Good to consider: personality

It’s just a fact that some people naturally get on like a house on fire right away. If your child is a big sports fan, a tutor who can throw in sports metaphors might be really helpful. If your child’s a bit shy, you’ll likely need a tutor with a gentle approach, while a bubblier and more energetic child might need a tutor who can match that high energy.

Don’t discount the power of personality to make tutoring sessions fun and comfortable for your student.

Possibly a factor: location

When it comes to English tutoring, usually you don’t really need someone local.

In-person tutoring forces you to consider where to find English tutors who are near enough to meet at your home, at theirs or at a tutoring centre. Online tutoring, on the other hand, opens up a far broader range of possibilities. And there are few convincing reasons why most English tutoring can’t be done online.

You should consider whether there are any reasons why you absolutely need an in-person tutor. If not, opt to go online. For more information on the pros and cons of a local tutor, read this blog post: Online Vs In-Person Tutors.

How to find a good English tutor

Now that you’ve decided what you want in an English teacher, the next step is to start your search.

How can you know how to find English tutors who have all of these qualifications we’ve discussed?

If you look independently, such as on Gumtree or through a friend network, you really don’t have a way of verifying that a prospective tutor has the credentials you need. When you’re considering where to find English tutors who are qualified and background checked, it’s generally far better and easier to go through a company that will take care of the vetting process for you.

Moreover, hiring a tutor typically involves a bit of administration on both sides, such as invoicing, record-keeping and scheduling. But these tasks aren’t the best use of a teacher’s time – and they can be unreliable when you’re working with an independent contractor. It’s far easier to rely on tutoring company administrative professionals who can sort out all the paperwork, allowing you and your tutor to focus on teaching and learning.

A tutoring company should also provide other services that will help the tutoring process go more smoothly for you. As you decide on a tutoring company, make sure they’re giving you the benefits below.  


An independent tutor likely has other work and won’t be available to speak with you at any time. A tutoring company, however, should be available to answer the phone during office hours, allowing you to get in touch with when you need to. More than this, you want a tutoring company that cares for each client and is focused on customer service.


With a tutoring company, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to find English tutors who meet your specifications – they will be in touch with a large selection of English tutors and should be able to find the best one for you. If the first tutor you meet isn’t perfect, they should help you try another one right away.

In contrast, if you were seeking a tutor independently, a mismatch with your first tutor would mean you’d essentially have to start your search from scratch.


When you’re looking for your tutoring company, investigate what technologies are available to get the maximum value from your tutoring time. Do they use online platforms to enhance learning? Are there recordings of sessions that students can access? You’re less likely to get to use these sorts of sophisticated technologies when you hire an independent tutor.


Naturally, you also want a tutoring company with good reviews. As well as considering a company’s star rating, take a look at the reviews to get a flavour of the company’s style and approach to tutoring.

How to find a good English tutor: go for Principal Tutors

So, now you know just what you’re looking for in both your English tutor and your tutoring company.

Where can you find a company that fits all of these specifications?

Try Principal Tutors. Every one of our teachers is a qualified teacher who knows the UK curriculum. We also pride ourselves on knowing how to find English tutors who are a fantastic match for students’ needs. Not to mention that we provide personal customer support whenever you want to reach out.

Our online English tuition sessions also allow students to benefit from that lesson’s work for weeks, months or even years to come. When you’ve finished a session with work on our shared digital whiteboard, the whiteboard contents will be emailed to you. You can also review the recording of your session whenever you like.

So, there’s no need to worry any further about how to find a good English tutor for your child. Just reach out to our team of experts on 0800 772 0974, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or help you get started. You can also fill out our online form today to begin the process of matching with just the right tutor for you.


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