My personal experience of tutoring I started tutoring Russian as a foreign language over 5 years ago and it still excites and gratifies me to see my student’s progress, watching them enjoying their academic journey and reaping the results of their efforts in the end. Through the years, my tutoring has evolved in many ways and I realised that it is a learning curve for me as well as for my students. Recognising points for improvement, analysing and later perfecting them has helped me to grow into the more consistent and confident tutor that I am today.
I first realised that I am gifted at explaining and assisting in the study of languages when I was helping a close friend to prepare for her English exam. I realised that my ability to be flexible, patient and most importantly receptive is particularly useful for linguistic tuition. Therefore when the opportunity was right I decided to try myself as freelance tutor, which I have continued doing until this day.
Teaching one to one or organising small groups of people I get an excellent understanding of how my students are performing and how to be most effective in helping them to succeed. Often teachers don’t get such a luxury as they have much bigger audiences to present their subject to. I fully appreciate now that tutoring is not merely the reciting of information to students,as you must adjust your lessons for the specific needs of each of them.
In the past I found myself significantly over preparing for a lesson to try to avoid any moments of improvisation. I also used to expect more of my students as this was caused by me expecting my students to have a similar learning pace to mine. I wanted to make the lessons challenging and enjoyable but not overwhelming for my students. Therefore I carefully consider the pace I take with each student, as some are naturally quicker in some subjects than others. Taking this into account and finding a challenging but also achievable level of difficulty for a specific student is something I believe is crucial in tuition. It is a skill that I have refined over the years as this allows for more efficient but also more effective lesson planning.
I can’t stress enough that evaluating a lesson is very important for it to be useful to the student. Asking questions as to what they enjoyed or found difficult at the end of the lesson is extremely valuable and something that should not be neglected. Talking about the lesson is something that should be a habit for a tutor in order for the student to extract the maximum understanding out of the class.
Through my time in tutoring, I have learnt that not only do you have to be good at explaining what you are teaching but also at giving encouragement and motivating learners, as every subject can get tough and complex at some point. In this era of technological innovations, such as apps and various online help tools, I think tutoring is one of the jobs that will never be able to be replaced by robots. Computers can deliver information, but tutors can provide the necessary interaction to give extra support when you are struggling or praise when you have done well; and that is something that can’t be replaced by a machine.
All things considered I can say that the right attitude and the constant strive for perfection sets a good tutor apart from the others. Being aware of the points of my improvement has not only saved my time preparing for each lesson but also has made me a better professional and has reinforced them in my mind so that I apply them in every lesson I teach. Being part of my student’s development brings a genuine smile to my face and feeling of conceit that makes it all worthwhile. The Russian language has a stereotype of being very difficult, but with the right approach it becomes challenging and gratifying; and nobody said that it needs to be learnt overnight!
By: Dzuliana Tarane