If you want to be an English tutor, you should plan to spend ample time working one-on-one with students on a wide range of skills. English tutors are commonly found on college campuses, where they help students with writing projects. You might work with an ESL (English as a second language) student, assisting with basic grammatical skill and reading comprehension. You could also work as a tutor for a student who needs assistance with a college-level essay, dissertation or application essay. Regardless, you will use a basic set of skills and abilities with each student.
You might be surprised to find that even the savviest writers need to brush up on grammar rules from time to time. As a tutor, you'll point out errors and mistakes, but teach the student how to track these errors herself. You're not a copy editor, so your goal is not to produce a perfect piece of writing, but to teach the student to better her own work. You can't just be a good writer. You must know the grammatical rules so you can explain them to someone who isn't used to placing commas based on good instincts and years of practice.
As a tutor, you'll likely work with a range of students who study different disciplines, even those you've never studied. Therefore, you have to be quick in absorbing the material the student is writing about in order to be helpful in the tutoring session. If a student is working on a psychology essay, you'll need to understand the concepts yourself before you can help her shape her writing. If you're tutoring high school English teachers who are preparing for an AP exam, you should be familiar with the test and the way the essays are scored. English tutors usually have high-level comprehension skills and can understand concepts quickly, regardless of the subject.
As a tutor, you want to develop trust with your student so she feels comfortable learning from you and accepting valuable criticism. Being friendly, sharing similarities, and using your sense of humor are good ways to relate to your student and show her that you're on her team. Most English tutors go through a training session that requires a "mock" tutoring session. Tutors are encouraged to practice approaching a student comfortably, delivering criticism in a constructive way, and working with the writer rather than the writing itself.
Whether you tutor for a university writing center or offer private tutoring as your own business, prepare to be flexible with your schedule. Some students may request sessions at the last minute, on weekends or during the evening. Some universities offer after-hours tutoring in 24-hour buildings such as university centers and libraries. Expect a flood of students during the peak academic times of midterms or finals week. Be prepared to treat each student as though her work is important, and develop the patience to lead, rather than simply correcting mistakes.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.