The first thing I always ask a new student is "Why are you here?", What are your goals?", and "Why did you choose me?" I usually hear the same answer, which is "I want to improve my spoken English".
This is obviously a great reason to hire an English tutor for private lessons, but there are many other benefits that you may not have thought of. Becoming more fluent and sounding more natural as an ESL (English as a Second Language) speaker has other hidden advantages and benefits. I've listed and explained 6 of those here, but I'm sure you will find over time that there are many more.
1. Raise Your Confidence and Self-Esteem
Many of my students have told me that after improving their English, they felt better about themselves. When you work on mastering a new skill, and then see progress, it feels good and there is a desire to continue. We all want to be successful in everything we set out to accomplish. When we work hard and see positive results, it gives us more confidence in other areas of life. Additionally, we simply feel better about ourselves, which makes us happier and healthier. Having a positive attitude makes our lives more enjoyable. An English tutor can help you to speed up the learning process so that you see results almost immediately.
2. Great Investment in Yourself
We all spend lots of money on “stuff” that we want, but don’t necessarily need. New shoes, a holiday in Thailand, or the latest iPhone. But how often do we invest in ourselves? When you hire an English tutor in Hong Kong, you are investing in yourself, your career, your family and your future. English fluency can help you land that new job or give you opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. As English continues to grow as the global language, many Hong Kong people find it necessary to speak more fluently, not only for business, but for travel as well. Sometimes we forget that learning a new skill such as English communication is not just for academic purposes, but also a personal investment in our future success and happiness.
3. Improve Your Everyday English Skills
Around the world and especially in Hong Kong, English is all around us, all day, every day. Do you want t be part of the conversation, or left on the sidelines? Whether you are at your office, meeting with clients, using online social media and entertainment, or simply in social situations, you are likely hearing a lot of English communication and interaction. How much of this everyday English do you actually understand? Would you like to understand more and be more connected to what is happening around you? My adult Hong Kong students who have hired me to be their English tutor have done so because they want or need to be more closely connected to their environment, both professionally and socially.
4. Choose Your Own English Tutor
When we were in school, we didn’t have the good fortune to be able to choose our own teachers. Some were very good, but some were not. As an adult in Hong Kong, you now have the luxury and control to pick the English tutor that is most suitable for you. Younger students typically respond well to very structured lessons, but I have found that my adult students prefer an English tutor who can be flexible and work with them on a variety of topics. The great thing about being an adult student is that you can choose your own English tutor, based on your own needs, objectives and personality. You’re the boss now!
5. Tutoring Tailored to Your Needs
My students respond to me well as their English tutor because I let them dictate what type of material or subject matter we focus on. Most teachers of adults welcome and appreciate input from their students because it provides a starting point for learning. When the English tutor is clear about why the student is there, what they want to learn, and how they prefer to be taught, then it creates a win-win situation for both the student and the instructor. Some students want to have free-talk discussions with correction, others want to improve their writing, some have presentations to practice, while others need to work on speaking and listening more clearly with expressions, idioms, verb phrases, etc. As the student, it’s entirely up to you regarding the direction of the lesson. Most English tutors can and will adapt to what the student wants and needs.
6. Achieve IELTS Exam Success
It seems that recently, I have had quite a few adult students in Hong Kong who needed an English tutor to help them prepare for the IELTS exam. For many, the most challenging part of the exam is the Speaking section, which is divided into three parts. Preparing for the IELTS speaking section is not as difficult as you might think. There is a standard set of topics and questions that are generally used for the IELTS speaking portion of the exam. When you are more familiar with these topics and questions, and have practiced how you will answer, the experience is much easier, and you e far more comfortable and confident going in to the exam. Most good English tutors in Hong Kong and elsewhere, should be able to help you prepare so that you give the best possible performance on the day of the exam.
I've been living in Hong Kong since 2010 and I have never learned how to speak the local language, Cantonese. Why? Because it's HARD! Also, enough people here speak English so that communication has never been a problem.
In my years of teaching English in Hong Kong, and dating a local girl for almost 4 years, I've managed to pick up a few Chinese (Cantonese) words and phrases, but I could never carry on a conversation with someone.
So, I always tell my students that I have a lot of respect for their English language ability, even if they are still beginners, because they already are FAR ahead of me in terms of speaking a second language.
But the one question I am always asked is "how can I improve my English"? Honestly, there are tons of ways to become more fluent, and I will share these with you as I have time. But for this article, I just wanted to mention three things that you can do right away to improve your oral English and become a more comfortable and confident English speaker in Hong Kong.
1) Stop being afraid that you're going to make a mistake
I don't know what it is about the Hong Kong and Chinese culture, but I've noticed that my students are MUCH more shy and reserved than the students in the US. I think the main reason is that people here are more self-conscious and don't want to "lose face". In America, we are much concerned with this, so in general, we are more outspoken.
As a Hong Kong person, when you are learning English, it is very important to make mistakes as much as possible. Why? So that the English teacher can correct you and you know what you need to improve. As an English tutor in Hong Kong, I always tell my students, "I don't know what you don't know - until I hear you speak". At that point, I can offer suggestions, correction, encouragement and support. That's how you learn.
So, as an English learner, you should never be afraid to make mistakes, because mistakes are learning opportunities.
2) Try to be around English as much as possible
I have lots of students in Hong Kong and China who have lived abroad in English speaking countries for a period of time. Some people make good use of this opportunity to improve their English by being around and interacting with native English speakers every day. Others, however, stay in their comfort zone and limit their interaction to other people who speak Chinese. Such a wasted opportunity!
One of the best ways to become more fluent in any language, especially English, is to surround yourself with the language. This is not only limited to English speaking PEOPLE, but also internet, radio, television, newspapers, books, social media apps, etc. Fully surround yourself with English and it wil start to stick to you like glue.
If you often put yourself in and English-centered environment, you will begin to learn and absorb English passively without even really trying. In Hong Kong, this is really easy to do because there is so much English all around you. It really works!
3) Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice
Like with any skill or talent you want to develop and improve, becoming a better, more fluent, comfortable, confident and natural English speaker takes practice, patience and consistency. You may not see a noticeable improvement from day to day, but if you practice consistently, you will see a significant improvement over the weeks and months as you continue to focus on learning.
I have some students who see me once per month, and other students who see me three times per week. It all depends on your schedule, your desire to improve, and your willingness to make a commitment to becoming a better English speaker.