ESL is sometimes referred to as EAL (English as an Additional Language), ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) or EFL (English as a Foreign Language). Don’t worry – they all mean the same thing and refer to teaching carried out specifically to improve English language skills for students whose first (or native) language is not English. ESL teaching or tutoring will usually be with a specific purpose in mind – to improve basic language skills if a student is moving from abroad to a UK school, for example, or to learn technical terms in English required for a specific exam (for example, GCSEs or even the 11 plus).
Nicola is a qualified and experienced practising English teacher, with extensive experience teaching English at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 in leading independent and grammar schools. She has a strong academic background in English, with a First Class Degree (...
Sussan is an experienced primary school teacher with an 'outstanding' rating. Having worked in schools since 2013, Sussan is familiar with National Curriculum expectations and she has a wealth of strategies to promote accelerated progress.
James recently received a Masters in Education from UCL (with distinction). Before this, he received a 1st class degree in English from the University of Liverpool, followed by a distinction in his PGCE (UK teaching qualification). He completed the Teach...
Tips and advice from our expert English tutors.
For a lot of students, the Shakespeare text question can be tricky and difficult to prepare for, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This article aims to help students tackle Shakespeare based questions with confidence. Georgina is an experienced English teacher and sets out her top 7 tips below.
Beware of unqualified tutors. ESL should always be taught by a teacher or tutor who is specifically qualified for the subject. Just because you can speak English, this does not mean you have the skills to teach it! Specialised ESL teaching and tutoring involves understanding not only things like SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) but also how the English language works, with all its beautiful, but sometimes very confusing, idiosyncrasy. Did you know, for example, that the suffix ‘ough’ has nine different pronunciations in British English? Learning English with the right tutor is so much fun!
Tutors who teach ESL will usually hold a CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)/ TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. These intensive courses are very challenging and require investment by the tutor as there is no Government funding available – so you know your child is being taught by someone who is committed to ESL students. Not only are these courses recognised by Ofqual (the UK exams regulator) but they are also internationally recognised, so tutors with these qualifications may well have worked abroad, giving them a deeper understanding of your child’s needs.
Due to the international nature of ESL provision, there will be many different options available to you, some based in the UK, like Owl, and some in your home country. The first thing to remember is that UK-based tutoring is preferable as your tutor will hold a UK teaching qualification so will have experience and understanding of the UK school system, including those all-important exams and entrance assessments. As mentioned above, it is also a good idea to choose a native English speaker who has a specific ESL qualification – that way you know that their natural ability with the English language is perfectly combined with the knowledge and understanding required to achieve their teaching certificate. Owl tutors are qualified teachers who have worked or are still working in UK schools, and can quickly and easily personalise learning objectives to meet your child’s needs. Owl tutors use up-to-date materials which blend ESL with mainstream English, particularly useful for those students who will be coming to a UK school and joining in with mainstream classes immediately. This type of preparation is only possible from a qualified teacher who has a sound knowledge and understanding of the current UK syllabi and curriculum.
ESL is all about having fun whilst learning a language. Qualified tutors will use games, puzzles and quizzes to make your child’s tuition session enjoyable. A one to one environment means that the tutor can help your child with conversational English right from the start, immersing them into the English language and encouraging them to speak as much as possible. SPAG questions will be incorporated into the session and your tutor will be able to recommend additional practice materials for your child to complete at home, so that they can consolidate what they have learnt and prepare for multiple choice exams or assessments if needed. ESL teaching focuses on the key skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and with personalised tuition by a qualified specialist ESL tutor, your child can experience all four skills in one session. For example, the tutor might read a short passage of text with the student (one paragraph each), then discuss some pronunciations and the meanings of some of the words, followed by more detailed SPAG and comprehension questions and answers which they will write together on a shared online document. In this way, the student will have read, listened to, spoken and written English by the end of the (very busy!) hour.
If you are moving, or thinking of moving to the UK as a non-native speaker, ESL tuition is essential. Whether your child has been learning English for a few years or is new to the language, a qualified Owl ESL tutor can help. From conversational English to exam-ready terminology, English as a second language tuition is an enjoyable way to improve your child’s confidence so they hit the ground running.