You Can Be Your Own ESL Tutor

You can be your own ESL tutor

You want to improve your English. But for whatever reason, you don’t have the opportunity to go to an ESL class, or work with a private tutor. What can you do? You can be your own ESL tutor. Here are some tips on how to be a good ESL tutor to yourself.

What to know if you want to be your own ESL tutor

Identify your current way to teach yourself

One of the first things is to identify your own teaching style according to How to be a good ESL teacher to yourself. This is important because you want to find a style that fits your learning style. A way to find out what your teaching style is observing yourself when you teach another person. Do you listen to their interest? Discover the underlying concept they are missing? How do you go about explaining the concept to them? Teach from your level or to their level? If you are teaching, obviously you know more. Can you explain what you know in such a way that makes sense to the other person? This is the secret of teaching.

The foundation of successfully teaching yourself

Another way to find your teaching style is paying attention to what you say to yourself when you study. When you get frustrated about not getting a concept, do you blame yourself? Encourage yourself? Find another way to understand? It is very possible that you pick up your teaching style from your days as a student. How your teachers approach your learning process may affect how YOU approach yours today. Therefore, discovering your own teaching style can build a foundation of successful learning. If you like your style, keep it. If not, there are alternatives.

Let’s say you do not like the way you teach yourself new concepts. Perhaps you get mad at yourself for not understanding something easily. If so, notice how you feel. If you feel bad, there’s a good chance the learning process may not go smoothly. Just imagine a child learning something new. If they feel they are not very good at something, and if they hear discouraging comments about this, they would feel bad. And when they feel bad, they are not in the best place mentally to absorb information.

Observe teaching techniques of tutors who are encouraging

In the same way, you would be a better tutor to yourself if you allow yourself to make mistakes. Afterall, who can do it correctly the first time? And why should you expect yourself to do it perfectly without practice? If being an encouraging tutor is unfamiliar, observe those who are really good in uplifting their students. Copy them. Listen to what they say to their students. How do they diffuse frustrating moments and lead their students to feel better? Experiment with this until you find the right approach for you. There will be frustrating moments when you can’t get something right. You’ll get back on track much faster if you can turn your attention to what you are doing right already. And THEN build on that.

Focus on your success

So basically, you can be your own ESL tutor by paying attention to how you teach, and how you learn. Focus on what you do correctly. And when you discover mistakes, make the correction in a way that does not make you feel bad. This is the key to learning. It’s easy to learn when you feel good about your learning. But learning when you feel bad is counter-productive. There is a saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Flies represent what you want to achieve. Honey represents the good feeling things you do to get what you want. And vinegar represents the less pleasant things you do, thinking that you’ll have success getting what you want. Although this saying refers to how you relate to people, you can apply it to relating to yourself as your own tutor.

If you find this blog helpful, you might also like this one on How to learn English in a natural way.

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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