6 Qualities of a Great Tutor

At Voxy, we hire the best tutors around.  To find the greatest tutors, we not only look for certain experience and certifications, but also for specific personal characteristics.  Below, we’ve highlighted the qualities of a tutor that are important to Voxy and also to learners around the world.

First, a great tutor is smart (obviously), but maybe not for the reasons you think.  In addition to knowing the difference between a gerund and a present participle, a great tutor is able to talk about a wide range of subjects.  Since learning happens more quickly when a learner is engaged, tutors who focus their lessons on their students’ interests will make the most gains.  As a result, a tutor may teach English through lessons about robots, opera, or politics.

If you’re going to meet with someone once or twice a week, wouldn’t you want to like that person?  For this same reason, tutors who are personable are more successful.  Personable tutors often form strong relationships with their students and get to know them well.  This allows tutors to plan lessons around exactly what the student needs and likes.  What’s more, when a learner feels comfortable with a tutor, he or she will be more willing to make mistakes, which is necessary in language learning.

By this, we don’t mean that the tutor is human, although that certainly does help. This means that the tutor is authentic in every way in his or her lessons.  Presenting fake and scripted language does not help learners interact with the language the way they’ll need to.  Tutors who use authentic language in their sessions, both in materials and in conversation, will better prepare their students for the real world.

Students may not be at the level the tutor was expecting; students may not have done their homework ahead of time; students may be having a party at their house during the session (true story).  All of these things can put a wrench in a tutor’s plan.  A tutor who can maintain a flexible mindset and navigate these issues quickly and still teach an effective English lesson is someone you want on your team.

Language learning experience
Experience learning a second language will make a stronger tutor for two reasons.  First, tutors who have learned a second language understand the challenges that come along with it and are usually more empathetic teachers.  Second, if a tutor is familiar with a student’s native language, he or she may notice and counteract common errors more quickly than a tutor who isn’t familiar with that language. (All done in English, of course!

Language learning doesn’t happen overnight.  Because of this, it is important for tutors to understand that language learning will take time and to be patient when teaching.  Learners may make the same mistakes over and over again, and this is normal.  This is when a tutor must remember to keep calm and tutor on.