Tutoring and Teaching: What’s the difference?
In Hong Kong teachers and tutors are considered highly valued professions because education plays a very important role in helping people achieve their life goals.
However, not many people are aware that there is a big difference between teaching and tutoring. Therefore, I would like to kick off Immerse Languages’ blog by explaining the differences.
What are the differences between a tutor and a teacher?
It is obvious that both teachers and tutors educate students, so what are the differences?
Well, a teacher has to have some kind of a general educational qualification, often from a university, and they tend to work at official educational establishments, such as kindergartens, primary, secondary and high schools, as well as higher and continuing education institutions.
Furthermore, teachers typically teach in a classroom to many pupils. The syllabus is approved by the establishment itself or the government (depending on whether the institution is private or public). Moreover, teachers are assigned by schools to follow specific curriculums, so students are not able to choose who teaches them.
On the other hand a tutor teaches students outside of the traditional schools. For this reason they do not necessarily need to hold any general educational qualifications, but they do usually have qualifications in the area of expertise that they teach in a support role.
As a result, tutors teach in a wide range of environments, such as education or tuition centres, as well as privately.
Their learning environments and classes can be quite wide ranging, depending on the subject or area of expertise. As they don’t need to follow a syllabus, tutors can focus and target those areas that their students need specific help with.
On top of that, here at Immerse we believe tutors should also advise students about the most convenient studying approach and techniques that best suit them. That’s why tutors usually work on a 1 to 1 basis or with a small number of students: to deliver a tailor-made approach for every learner profile; this is the reason why students usually choose their tutors considering their experience and reputation.
The roles of teachers and tutors in education
That being said, I would like to point out that the work of tutors should complement that of teachers. There should be synergy, not conflict, as has often been the case unfortunately. A classic example is where tutors have basically done the homework for their students. Indeed the IB written assignment was dropped for this very reason.
In my opinion, what makes an outstanding tutor is the ability to not only give a more personalized learning experience, but also transfer their knowledge in a way that matches their student’s learning style. This approach will ensure that students become self-motivated and more confident. The focus will be on complementing those areas of the school syllabus where school teachers were not able to go into more in-depth due to time constraints.
Very important factors not to overlook: motivation and ethics
When it comes to working in the education field (and by extension in all industries), it is vital that all instructors not only have the necessary qualifications and relevant experience, but also a high degree of motivation and drive – I can’t stress how important this is.
Motivation and drive is the key to success in delivering top-notch teaching and tutoring services to students because it is what makes us, educators, strive for excellence. We have to constantly keep looking for ways to improve our classes by investing a substantial amount of our time in researching and testing new tools and teaching materials to provide our students with the most engaging learning experience.
However, in today’s world, it seems that many people are just looking for quick, or even instant results. This can make it difficult for both tutors and teachers, since they have to balance focusing on helping students achieve high grades and imparting their full knowledge of something. As both are judged on results, they often have to focus on the former and let their professionalism and passion take a bit of a back seat.
This can cause a conflict of interest and demonstrates where ethics can play an essential role in education. Good educators will always question whether taking shortcuts is always the best policy because students could be missing out on some valuable knowledge.
Is striving for just quick results common?
Yes, because some tutors and tuition centers just purely focus on finding out how students are assessed by schools or exam boards. Then they basically just do the required work for the student, as mentioned earlier with the IB’s written assignment, enabling the student to earn high grades. The tutor or tuition center will give themselves a proverbial big pat on the back and everyone seems happy – the student got the required high grades and the tutor or tuition centre enhanced their reputation and the prospect of attracting ever more students wishing to take shortcuts to high grades – an endless cycle!
However this greed for success often leads to some very questionable practices. A classic case recently occurred in Hong Kong where an educator who also worked as an examiner leaked some questions to students. He was caught and had to pay the price for his actions.
This greed for success and ethical deficiency aren’t only found in tutoring services. It is also quite prevalent in some traditional schools. That’s why I previously highlighted the importance of motivation and drive for both teachers and tutors. The focus should be on tailoring classes to meet the real learning needs of their students, thus enabling them to achieve high grades without damaging shortcuts.
All in all teachers and tutors, despite the differences that I have mentioned, both provide important and invaluable teaching services. They should not be seen as competing with each other but as complementing each other. Ideally they should be aware of each others’ contribution and work together to bring out the best in their students.
The other important point is that in addition to qualifications and experience, ethics, motivation and drive are key attributes of a good educator, since they enable educators to engage more with their students in very innovative ways, creating a fun and productive learning experience.
At Immerse, we are very lucky to count with a team of truly passionate educators, who really make a difference.
Are you interested in meeting one of our professional educators and seeing what difference they can make? Then feel free to contact us to book a free trial class with no commitment!