Tutors can be very useful for learning a language. They can speed up the learning process and help find mistakes that learners may not have noticed on their own. However, not everyone is ready to hire a tutor, and at early stages in the language learning process, it is generally better to get as far as possible independently.
First, it’s important to establish what exactly the purpose of a tutor is. There are two main benefits to having a tutor instead of just reading a book or using some platform to self study. A tutor can help explain more advanced features in the language that aren’t immediately clear from self study resources. This is generally grammar which is not present in one’s native language and can be difficult to find an in-depth explanation of. The other main benefit is that a tutor can provide conversation practice with someone at a more advanced level who can point out mistakes, give advice on general style of speech.
Tutors can be especially useful for learners who need a bit more guidance, for example, less experienced language learners. Some platforms, like Novakid, even specialize in providing engaging lessons for children. There are also platforms like EF English Live which provide tutors who can help both beginners and business English students alike.
Tutors are not magic. Tutors will not do your studying for you. They won’t tell you anything that isn’t already written in a grammar or style book somewhere if you look hard enough. They can explain concepts in different words to help you understand better, they can help you figure out more quickly exactly what you’re looking for, and they can help with conversation practice.
Many beginners rush to hire a tutor right at the beginning of the learning process. This will not help at such an early stage. A tutor is not going to help memorize basic phrases any better than you could do on your own from a list. If you find that self study just doesn’t work for you, what you need isn’t a tutor, what is you need is either to just be more patient, study more per day, or to reduce negative self talk.
Once you reach an intermediate level in a language, this is when a tutor really becomes useful. Tutors can help explain nuances in grammatical structures and style that aren’t immediately obvious from basic grammar guides. They can help find constructs in your speech that just sound “off” to native speakers but don’t necessarily break any rules. They can explain nuances in vocabulary so that you can pick the right words for a situation even when the meanings seem almost exactly the same. They can provide conversation practice with someone who knows advanced vocabulary and how to use it wisely.
A personal tutor is a very powerful tool when combined with motivation and good study habits on the side of the learner. At an intermediate level, lessons can help break past the intermediate plateau and impress native speakers. However, for beginners, it is best to do what you can on your own, even for free.
Make use of books, websites, and programs, many of which can be found for free. Exhaust what you can do easily on your own before hiring a tutor, and then combine your efforts with a good tutor to create a winning combination.