How to find the right English teacher for you

You need to hire an English teacher. But, you want to find the right one.

Most English teachers teach General English or prepare you to pass an official exam, like the FCE or IELTS.

You’re not looking for that type of class.

You have specific learning needs. You need to improve your English to do your job more effectively.

As you have specific learning needs, you need a teacher with specific teaching qualities. Here are 5 steps you should take to make sure you get the right teacher.

Step 1: Identify your needs

Write down why you need to improve your English. You will probably have several needs.

For example:

  • I need to speak more fluently in order to negotiate more confidently.
  • I need to develop my public speaking skills in English in order to give more effective presentations.
  • I need to improve my listening skills in order to understand what is discussed at meetings.
  • I need to improve my grammar in English in order to write clearer emails.
  • I need to learn specific vocabulary in order to understand reports and business articles.

Step 2: Identify how a teacher could help you meet these needs

Think about how a teacher could help you meet your needs.

For example:

A teacher could teach me useful expressions and phrases used in negotiations. Then, we could practise negotiation training activities to help me become more comfortable and fluent in negotiations.


A teacher could provide me with models and writing activities to help me learn how to write clearer and accurate emails.

Step 3: Identify what knowledge and skills your teacher needs

Think about what knowledge and skills a teacher would need to help you develop those skills.

  • You’ll probably want somebody who is experienced at teaching adults.
  • You’ll probably want somebody with a specific teaching qualification so they are able to teach you aspects of the English language.
  • You might want somebody who has specific knowledge of your industry.

Step 4: Identify other qualities you look for in a teacher and question them

Think about other qualities you look for in a teacher and ask yourself why they are important. We often have outdated opinions or illogical preferences which prevent us making good choices.

For example:

I want a teacher with a British English accent because I believe that is correct English.

Why is this important?

Mmm…maybe it isn’t. I need to speak English to people from all around the world. Americans, Germans, Russians, Chinese. I guess a British English accent isn’t that important.

I want a teacher who is older than me.

Why is this important?

Well, in my culture, we believe teachers should be older than us. But, I’m 52 years old. Why do I need a teacher who’s older than me?

I want a male teacher.

Why is this important?

The last English teacher was a woman and I didn’t like her at all. But, that doesn’t mean that all female teachers are like her. I’m sure there are good and bad female English teachers just like there are good and bad male teachers.

I want a teacher who can come to my office. I don’t want an online teacher.

Why is this important?

My colleague had an online teacher a few years ago and he didn’t like the lessons because there were problems with Skype.That was a few years ago and video conferencing technology has improved considerably since that time. An online teacher could be very convenient actually because I could even take classes from home or in the morning before I leave for work. Maybe I should reconsider.

Step 5: Create a teaching ‘job description’

A professional English teacher does two things before they start teaching you:

  • They assess your level of English
  • They identify your specific needs and goals.

Many English learners meet a teacher for the first time and don’t really know what they want from their lessons. This means that the teacher has to guess what they think the learner needs. What often happens is that learners don’t feel satisfied because the content and style of the lessons are not really what they want or need. The teachers feel frustrated because they realise that the learners are not satisfied but don’t really know what to do to make the lessons more relevant and effective.

Which is why you should tell your teacher what you want, what you need, and what you are interested in doing in your Business English classes before you start learning with them.

You don’t need to write a detailed proposal but you should identify your main needs and your learning goals.

Think of it like interviewing a candidate for a position in your company. You would write a job description before the interview to make sure that the successful candidate is capable of performing the required duties.

This is really useful for your teacher because they will be able to decide if they can really help you or not.

Remember that if your learning needs are specific, you might require a specialist. Specialists are not cheap so you will have to decide if you are able and prepared to employ such a teacher.