Should I Hire An ESL Tutor Or Study On My Own?

You may be at a point in your English learning when you wonder: Should I hire an ESL tutor or study on my own? There are advantages to both. In this blog, I will offer some tips on how to make this decision.

Study ESL with a tutor or by myself?

When to work with an ESL tutor or coach

Some professionals need to fine-tune their English in a short time because of work. They need to understand American co-workers, participate in meetings, or talk with customers.

If you are in this situation, working with an ESL tutor / coach can help you achieve your goals more quickly. However, not all ESL tutors have the training to meet your specific needs. So when you interview a few, ask them if they have specific experience working with someone with your needs. From their response, you will know whether to continue the conversation or to thank them for their time.

For example, if you need to prepare for a presentation to speak to an American audience, you want to work with a coach with experience fine-tuning presentation skills. Someone with an eye for making subtle changes to increase effectiveness. A coach who understands what your audience looks for in a presentation. Working with someone who has these skills will help you get to your goal faster. That is the advantage of working with an ESL tutor/coach.

When to study English on your own

If you have no time pressure to improve your English immediately, you might consider studying English on your own. But it would be a good idea to have some guidance so you can use your time efficiently.

One advantage of studying on your own is cost. And that depends on the experience of the ESL tutor. The more experienced they are, the higher the cost because they can help you reach your goal faster.

Another advantage of studying on your own is flexibility. There are so many ways to improve your English. Book learning is only one way. For example, when you join meetup groups with your interests, you’ll find it easier to speak with confidence because you are among friends who share your interest.

Since most people want to improve their spoken English in order to converse with anyone, giving yourself opportunities to speak with different people at social events will help you accomplish that purpose far better than learning from a book. It’s the interaction, the listening, the non-verbal signals that contribute to successful communication. That’s why learning from books alone is less effective if your goal is conversational skills.

If you enjoy watching television or movies, you can also learn English on your own. Did you know you can google “script name of movie or television show” and you can see the entire transcript? The TV series “Friends” is popular among ESL students. There is transcript for every episode. So, when you watch an episode and cannot understand what they are saying, you can pause and read the transcript, then watch that part again. That helps to train your ears to fast speakers.

Here are some recommended posts to help you study English on your own. How to learn English effectively, How to learn discussion skills, Writing tips for ESL learners, and Easier ways to study a foreign language.

I hope these tips help you decide whether to hire an ESL tutor/coach or to study on your own. If you think of some questions after reading this blog, feel free to email me at

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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