First of all, how do you find a teacher? As well as searching online adverts and tutoring sites, you could also ask friends or colleagues if they can recommend a teacher. This has the obvious advantage that you can find out more about your teacher before meeting.
Think about what you want to achieve from 1-1 English lessons. Do you want to work on a specific area like pronunciation, grammar or fluency? Are you hoping to take an exam to prove your level, or do you need to improve your Business English for an interview or presentation? On the other hand, you might just want to achieve a higher level of English and work on all areas.
Most private teachers will offer a free meeting or consultation before starting lessons. Use this time to explain your goals and where/how you’ve learnt English before. Try not to feel nervous about speaking in English! You can also ask your prospective teacher lots of questions. For example, you could ask what qualifications* and experience they have. You might also like to ask how a typical lesson is structured, and whether your teacher would give homework. You can ask your teacher what materials they’ll use. Will you need to buy a book, for example? You’ll also need to consider where and when the lessons will take place, how much they will cost and how to pay, and how much notice you will need to give if you have to cancel a session. If you’re interested in taking an exam, make sure that your teacher would be able to mark written work.
So, once you’ve found a teacher and started lessons, how can you make the most of your sessions? As a 1-1 student, your teacher should tailor their lessons to your needs. If you don’t understand something, or want more practice on a particular topic, tell your teacher. Progress tests and feedback sessions are a good way of charting your progress.
For IELTS students, IELTS Simon has some great advice here on how to use a private teacher.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher as many questions as you’d like!
*Look for the Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL as initial qualifications