In recent years, more and more parents are hiring private tutors to help their children through their Modern Languages A-Levels. In fact, it’s become so popular that two-thirds of teachers who had also tutored, did so after direct contact with parents. This reveals that parents believe they would be putting their child at a disadvantage by not getting them a tutor. And they’re probably right.
Almost one in three school students in England and Wales have had private tuition at some point in their life, and one in ten of them were tutored specifically for Modern Languages. So, if you’re taking one of the notoriously difficult Modern Languages A-Levels, private tuition is an option well worth considering.
Private tutors give kids the necessary speaking practice, essay writing skills and confidence to not only succeed at A-Level, but to gain fluency in the language they’re learning. Tutors are uniquely placed to support their pupils, and can tailor their lessons to suit their needs, making language learning a fun rather than exam-driven process.
- Tailored Teaching
- Speaking Practice
- Improving Grammar And General Understanding
- Improved Essay Writing Skills
- Broader Range Of Content To Learn
- Higher Grades In Exams
The main advantage of a private tutor is that they can tailor their teaching specifically to your needs. As an A-Level student I remember spending hours of lesson time unnecessarily revising things I already knew or learning obscure vocabularies. This meant that my A-Level lessons quickly became dull and I lost motivation for learning French. My French tutor helped me improve at identifying my language weaknesses, and I developed a habit of noting down my mistakes for future discussions and corrections. So, instead of spending hours trawling through grammar and vocabulary I already knew, I was able to make quick progress by doing only a couple of exercises a day
This efficiency not only had an impact on my tutoring sessions but helped to change the way I worked and revised independently. I became better at identifying weaknesses in my French and learnt to note down my mistakes to come back to later with my teacher. Private tutors provide better attention and consideration. Which otherwise can’t be replicated with your teacher in a class setting.
This means that no matter how great your A-Level teacher is, they can’t get to know you in the same way a private tutor can. Over time your tutor learns how you work best: which revision methods seem to work for you, what motivates you, and where to spend learning time. They’re also able to recommend books or language resources they think you’ll like that can really boost your motivation to learn.
Another benefit more specific to Modern Languages tuition is the practical speaking practice, perhaps the most important and difficult part of learning any language. Unfortunately, most A-Level students don’t get enough speaking practice while studying for their A-Levels.
In the best cases, maybe half an hour with a language instructor, and at worst, in-class practice with other students just as clueless as themselves. Whilst many schools now employ language assistants to help their pupils with the speaking element of their A-Level, this often only provides a few minutes of practice a week on the subjects prescribed for the exam.
On the other hand, a private tutor can run their entire session in the target language, allowing their students to really familiarise themselves with the process of speaking their language in a practical environment. A tutor also has the time to correct a student’s mistakes and help them identify areas to improve on. This is the kind of attention that’s really necessary for those hoping to fluently speak the language.
Improving Grammar And General Understanding
I’ve heard from many A-level students that they don’t get enough lessons teaching them grammar. Though this may not be the case in all schools. The rigorous teaching of grammar and its applications are often not a priority for A-Level teachers. Rather they’re trying to cover the large amount of content in the course. This can become a problem for all four areas of language learning which relies on a fluent use of grammar. Students may have an idea of how to use the subjunctive from GCSE. But that doesn’t mean they understand how to use it in their writing or how to identify it when reading.
A tutor can work with their student to gradually build confidence by using grammar in their writing, speaking and translations. There are a wealth of grammar resources to support students’ grammar online. A tutor however, is best suited to answering their student’s specific questions. For example, if they can’t find an explanation online, a tutor can break it down. Plus, the tutor can teach the concept in a way that makes sense. Tutors are also masters of grammar learning resources and will be happy to share their grammar exercises with you.
Improved Essay Writing Skills
One problem that students struggle with time and time again at A-Level is essay writing. Although usually only a few hundred words, writing essays in a foreign language can sometimes be daunting. It requires a fluency and accuracy that is difficult to develop alone. Personally, this was the part of the A-Level course that I struggled with most. And this was my main motivation for employing a tutor. I couldn’t understand how my classmates were writing without making grammar mistakes I made in each essay I handed in. It was only when I got a tutor with Learn&Co that I understood why I was getting low marks. My tutor worked with me to restructure and redraft every essay I wrote until I could write confidently and with far fewer errors.
Helping students get clarity, impressive grammar and vocabulary is something that most class teachers are again unable to do. So if you’re worried about writing essays, it’ll be worth getting a private tutor like I did.
Broader Range Of Content To Learn
It’s also important for students to remember that language learning is not done in a vacuum. Most people learn languages to eventually be able to live or work abroad. The constraints of an A-Level curriculum, however, can sometimes prevent students from getting to fluency in their language. A private tutor is the best option as they can help a student go beyond the curriculum.
As I previously mentioned, tutors who are native speakers, can give students valuable speaking practice they’ll need to travel abroad. They’re also able to recommend workbooks that can push the student towards university level. This can be done by asking them to identify nuances in meaning required at an advanced level. These suggestions and practices can work to push a student way beyond what the A-Level curriculum has to offer.
Students should be supported and encouraged to learn languages now more than ever. A post-Brexit UK will have to open itself up to interaction with countries across the world. A goal that cannot be achieved if Brits continue to be complacent with their acquisition of foreign languages. Right now foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium. With German and French falling the most in entries in recent years. Private tuition is a great way to start reversing this language crisis by motivating students who are interested in languages.
Higher Grades In Exams
A private tutor is guaranteed to boost a student’s grade at A-level. At Learn&Co we’re proud to say that 95% of our students achieve an A or A* in their A-Level exams and this is thanks to all the points I mentioned above. Modern Languages exams are challenging and it’s not uncommon for students to feel disheartened early on in the course. Tutors know how their students learn and how to get the best results out of them. And they do this in a way that is both fun and challenging.
So there we have it. Whilst tutors are definitely going to get you a better grade at A-Level, they’re so much more than that. Tutors provide a unique opportunity to practice speaking in a practical environment. They support their students’ learning in grammar by identifying weaknesses and helping to strengthen them. They help to develop essay writing skills until students feel fluent and confident. And lastly, they make language learning something enjoyable and no longer intimidating for students to do.
The British Council recently found that 53% of adults regret not making the most of learning languages when they could’ve. Private tutoring provides that chance and at Learn&Co we pride ourselves on the quality of tuition we provide for A-Level students and base our teaching around the skills I’ve mentioned above. Check out our tutors at our Profile Hub to find an experienced and friendly teacher today.