ESL refers to English as a Second Language and educators (especially those who study English language/literature) often embark on postgraduate courses and specialist programs to help develop learning strategies to support children and adults whose mother tongue is not English.

In an ESL -based learning scenario, children/adults are most often from different countries, cultures, and educational backgrounds, and therefore the standard teaching strategies for your everyday American will not suffice.

From as early as kindergarten, US-born children have been exposed to various learning techniques and strategies to help comprehend and understand the English language.

However, if a child and their family have recently relocated to a city such as Philadelphia, their learning experience may have been significantly different, and this difference can create challenges when learning in the conventional classroom.

Not alone is it families that may have relocated from a different country, but across the United States, from New York to Los Angeles, educational systems and learning practices can often be disparate, and this change in approach can also cause challenges for overall development and understanding.

So, to support children that aren't native to the language, is it advised that in conjunction with the learning they are exposed to in a schooling setting, they should seek in finding an additional tutor to consolidate their learning to help them advance at a quicker rate.

Philadelphia, known for its contributions to art, television, music, and food, is a culturally diverse city with residents from varying backgrounds and experiences.

Many families have relocated to Philadelphia and the city boasts a population of just over 1.5 million people.

The demand for additional English tuition is high and the city caters for such demand.

There are various institutes, educational programs, and specialist curriculums to help assist those who have yet to gain fluency with the language; and, the opportunities to gain additional support have been incorporated into many of the public schools across the city and its suburbs.

As well as private, one-to-one tutoring options, this article will aim to distinguish and identify such opportunities that both school children and adults have at their doorstep, as well as looking at the various challenges and variations of learning that ESL students should be aware of.

ESL Opportunities in Philadelphia

A sign reads 'learning'.
There are an abundance of opportunities for those looking for additional tuition. (Source: Visualhunt)

From specialist learning centers, one-to-one private tutors to community churches that offer additional tuition, the sky is the limit for those looking to brush up on their English language skills.

The Community College of Philadelphia is a prime example. With various courses to cater for ESL students, they offer beginner, intermediate and high intermediate courses as well as advanced, American idioms courses.

The costs are said to be highly competitive and this is a perfect opportunity for those over the age of 18 to engage in 'catch up', extracurricular activities to continue in their development.

Superprof is also an effective platform that is active in other cities across the country including Houston, Boston and Chicago! The platform helps in finding one-to-one, private tutors that can travel to and from students' homes to perform specialist ESL tutoring.

A quick search on their online page will allow you to browse through potential candidates that can assist in the development of a student's English language skills.

Naturally, ESL students look for tutors that also have an understanding of their mother tongue. So, if you originally speak Cantonese, Spanish, or Portuguese, the platform allows you to contact the educators directly to enquire further about their credentials and experience.

What is great about this platform is that the tutors have a 'bio', in which they explain their various specifications, experiences, and educational experiences.

Most tutors also offer their first lessons for free to ensure that the match between student and tutor is one that could continue for a sustained period.

What To Look For In An ESL Tutor

A man carries a set of heavy books.
An effective tutor should make the process of learning an exciting and invigorating process. (Source: Visualhunt)

There are several considerations to make before paying for a group of lessons with a one-to-one tutor.

Amongst the obvious i.e. location and teaching schedule, there is also the chemistry felt between student and tutor, and if their teaching and learning principles coincide with the student's goals and learning motivations.

Naturally, we all as human beings learn in differing ways. Some prefer to learn from example, whereas others enjoy learning more academically, through books and summative assessments.

The style must suit the student, who is, after all, paying for the services of the tutor. Below are highlighted some things to look out for in a tutor to determine if they will assist in an effective way for a student to meet their goals.

Qualifications & Experience

Before partaking in your first lesson, identifying the tutor's educational history followed by testimonials of previous ESL students they have taught and their experience is a great way to establish the past success rate of students that were once in similar shoes to your own.

Temperament

Additional tuition should be consistent.

If it takes place now and again with no formal or continuing structure, the level of development will be stagnated and unpredictable.

So, with regular, weekly, or 2 x weekly classes will help to establish the patience levels and general temperament of the tutor.

They must give off a positive sense of energy to infuse the student, and mistakes must be conceived as an opportunity to learn, not the chance to stigmatize or undermine.

Variation of Teaching Strategies

Does every session seem to be like the last? As a student, are you struggling to concentrate through a lack of interest?

A sign of a good tutor/teacher is that the student is excited by the learning material, they are engrossed by the various techniques in which the teacher employs and they remain enthralled with the learning from beginning to end.

Confidence Builder

Naturally, there will be times in which the learning comes to a standstill and certain learning concepts become a challenge to comprehend.

To counteract these difficult moments, the tutor must instill a level of ambition and perseverance upon the learner, identifying areas that are weaknesses and acting upon them within the learning material.

Online Tutoring for ESL Students

Learning to speak English
Online tutoring is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon (Source: Visualhunt)

An increasingly popular approach to one-to-one tutoring is by conducting lessons and developing learning material through online means.

Many students have been opting for this style of teaching because of the convenience matters and reduction in hourly fees for hiring a tutor.

As the student and tutor aren't expected t0 travel to and from home to conduct their tuition, this saves on both time and travel costs which can thus reflect upon the overall price.

Various platforms advertise specialist ESL online tutors and they can also be found on the main Superprof website.

Searching 'ESL Tutors' or 'EFL Teacher' whilst specifying the area, which is in this case Philadelphia, will provide you with a wealth of tutors to choose from.

Their profiles will list previous teaching and tutoring experience as well as their qualifications and credentials.

Students who have previously used their services usually include comments on their experience and a five-star rating of their previous teachings helps the student to identify how satisfied their previous clients have been.

Here we have listed some benefits along with some potential pitfalls as to acquiring regular online tutoring sessions:

Positives to online tutoring

With the advancement of modern technology and more people having access to better wifi, online tutoring has never been better.

It is usually cheaper and the student and tutor don't need to set a foot from their homes, helping to save time on the learning which is taking place!

Potential pitfalls

As it is still a relatively new approach to learning, there can be some negatives associated with online tutoring.

Sometimes weak wifi and technological defaults do occur, and when this happens, it can interrupt the flow of the teaching that is taking place.

Also, if it is a young child/teenager, they are more prone to distraction as they are not face-to-face with an adult, and therefore communication between the tutor and parent/guardian must exist to ensure the child is concentrating effectively.

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Christopher