“Alex has been teaching our family many years including my nephews and our two boys (6 and 8 years old). We are so grateful that Alex helped developing our boys writing skills as well as including preparing them for their 7+ Entrance Exam, with Alex support they are now attending one of the top boys’ school in London. He is very patient and warm personality, we are very much looking forward him continue helping our boys in the future.”
Mrs S, 7+ Exam Preparation and writing skills Tuition
English as a Foreign Language
2008-2009, International House London: CELTA Teacher Training.
2005–2008, Roehampton University. BSc (Hons) Creative Writing with Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies (2:2).
2002-2008, Salesian School, Chertsey. GCSEs (B/C) & A-Levels (B/C).
I have been working as a private tutor since 2012. My main subject specialisms include English and Creative Writing. More recently I have been supporting students with preparations for their Entrance Exams.
From early on I establish a “teamwork” approach, boundaries are very clear, but there is lots of opportunity for creativity, fun and engagement. Having privately tutored for many years, it has taught me that the best approach needs to be student focused. The student needs to feel that the lesson is completely centred around them and their needs and the way to do this is to make it personal. It is about making the student understand their strengths and knowing the areas they need to improve in order to reach their potential. As an English tutor, it’s important to get the student’s to be passionate about the subject, I often use films as a way to show how film makers create effects with sound, lighting and characters and encourage them to create this, but they have to use words. By applying the same principles to a slightly altered version it delivers the same teaching in a new way for the student. It is about utilising my knowledge, expertise and passion to provide the students with what they need to navigate their way through the subject in a clear, proactive and exciting way.
As an actor and performer, one of the key skills I have developed is adaptability and flexibility which has proven to be such an important asset to my tutoring. It is so important to adapt and accommodate the individual student based on their age, background, ability and reason for taking lessons. Being able to adapt professionally and strategically is something I pride myself on. To me, tutoring is not just a job, it is part of my passion for the English language. From tutoring English to international students to native speakers it all stems from a passion to communicate and how this is such an important asset to have. For example, when I am looking at comprehension with students. we are not merely reading an extract from a story but experiencing it together. I find that this passion is often received by the students and helps even the most challenging of students to engage. Furthermore, my ability to use language in creative and purposeful ways allows me to pass on knowledge and experience. Finally, my friendly, enthusiastic and professional nature is why I am often so popular both with the student and parent.
I have built over 5000 hours of tutoring experience with more than 100 students. I am able to support clients of all ages from Pre-School to Adult. Here is a sample of my tutoring experience:
Year 1-3 English & 7+ Common Entrance Exam
Noah’s parents were worried that he wasn’t reading enough, and this was affecting his performance in English. I read with Noah and tried to instil a love for reading in him. We focused on subjects which I knew he enjoyed and got him used to just sitting down and reading. He was a very active child who played lots of sports, so he found it difficult to sit down at first, but over time he overcame this. Alongside his reading, we practised phonics, spellings, grammar and began building simple sentences with more details using verbs, adjectives, connectives etc. We used a vocabulary board and spelling board so we could keep track on the new words Noah had learnt, but also the words that I wanted Noah to use as much as possible. I liaised with the parents to offer a Reward System if he did well or achieved his goals.
11+ Common Entrance Exam for English
Prisha’s area of focus was in her written responses to questions and creating compelling stories with as many literary devices as possible. She read a lot of books which meant that she had a vivid imagination and was able to navigate her way around the texts easily. Prisha and I read a whole range of different stories, both short and long, over the two-year period that we worked together. I wanted to show her a range of different styles and genres so she was able to come up with her own stories easily. I was quite strict on her stories and always encouraged her to add as much detail as possible in order to impress her chosen school and allow them to see her level of English. I focused primarily on exam technique and concentrated on her written responses so that they were clear and well-developed in order for her to gain entry into her school. Prisha gained entry into Tiffin’s Girls School, Kingston.
Year 8 English, general studies & 13+ Common Entrance Exam
After tutoring their Father, I was assigned to tutor D and T to help improve their general studies, manage their education and prepare them for their approaching 13+ common entrance exam. Both boys did not like studying and were far more entertained by sports and computer games. This meant that it was quite a challenge or motivate them to do their work and study. However, through incentives created with their parents and by setting realistic and achievable goals, I managed to get the boys on board. I assigned them a Science tutor and worked closely with her to identify each boy’s strengths and weaknesses. For English, I tutored them personally and our lessons focused on exam technique and reading strategies as both boys didn’t read, outside of school. Once their reading developed up to a better standard, I then guided them into writing developed and detailed responses to comprehension questions.
Year 6 to Year 9 English (SEN)
T required a unique approach to his studies due to learning difficulties and possible Autism. His Mother was very keen to bring his English up to speed with his strong Science and Maths skills. I was with T when he was still in primary school and it was clear he had a strong imagination and love for reading. His challenge lay in concentration, understanding texts fully and inferring information, structuring stories which followed a clear narrative and expanding his vocabulary. Chinese was his first language but he spoke English very well and I would class him as a native speaker. T was in the bottom set of his English class when he began secondary school. I read with T very carefully and we discussed texts very often before writing anything down. I taught him how to look for clues in the text, like Sherlock Holmes, and he gradually became more and more confident with this. To help T focus, we had a board where if he wanted to talk about anything we would put it on the board so we could come back to that after we’d finished what we were doing. This helped his concentration on the task at hand and also allowed time for him to speak to me about other things which was also an opportunity to help correct grammar or improve vocabulary. By halfway through Year 7, T had moved up one group from the lowest set which he was extremely happy about. His love for writing began to decrease, which I think was down to him writing stories which he thoughts were childish and he didn’t have any further ideas. To overcome this, we had regular brainstorming sessions and created an ideas box which was filled with all things he liked and got excited about. We’d pick random words from the ideas box and try to make stories with them using as many literary devices as possible. This ensured that his writing developed in its maturity while still encouraging him to write. By the end of Year 8, T had moved up another group and was now in the middle ability set for his year.
GCSE English (AQA)
Alex’s parents wanted me to focus on his overall studies, but with a focus on his written responses in English, along with his other subjects. Alex found it difficult to manage his time, complete longer projects and found it difficult to revise. To help Alex, we created a weekly timetable which blocked out all of his school and extra-curricular activities so we could find dedicated time slots where he would allocate for homework or revision, whilst at the same time allowing him to relax and have a social life. This improved his school work and homework immediately and every week I reviewed how he was doing. In the approach to his end of year exams, Alex and I looked at the subjects he needed to revise, broke their topics into bitesize pieces and created a weekly revision timetable so he knew exactly what he was studying, when and for how long. This allowed Alex to not only manage his time but to feel less pressure and stress with the work load. Finally, I was on hand for longer pieces of his written work for subjects like History, Business, Geography, English and RS and we planned his work carefully so he knew exactly what he had to write.
GCSE English (AQA)
Evengiy was in the final year of his GCSE and with his approaching exams, he was worried about his recent mock results in both his Language and Literature. We began with English Language and it was clear that Evegniy was able to analyse the language and comment on the feature the writer had chosen but was leaving out the intended effect this was to have on the reader. I introduced Evgeniy to the PEELED structure for writing developed responses. I cross referenced his answers with the mark scheme of past papers and together, we marked his work, clearly identifying what the examiners were looking for and what the difference was between an answer in Band 1, 2, 3 and 4. Evgeniy was far more aware of what was expected of him to achieve higher in his examinations later in the year. In his composition, I guided Evgeniy in understanding what the examiners wanted to see – such as his command of the language to create an effect on the reader. To do this, I drilled into him the importance of planning and brainstorming to use all the language features he could include. In his literature this was a case of creating a revision booklet on narrative and characters to ensure he was completely clued up on all the possible questions that could come his way. We explored the best responses and what structured they used in developing their answers. Evgeniy was predicted a Band 4 but achieved a Band 6 in the end which we were all very pleased with.
Adult English Speaking & Pronunciation
Lina wanted to improve her English speaking and pronunciation for work as she had a very strong Chinese accent. She requested I help her with accent reduction. I quickly identified that Lina made common errors in pronunciation which are associated with Chinese speakers, particularly /th/, /l/ /ei/ sounds. To combat this, we practised tongue twisters and broke down the movement of the sound with the tongue and how it differentiated from other sounds. We also tried others techniques using emphasis on the sound, slowing down the pace of speaking which were both designed to improve her muscle memory with the particular sound. To put it in a more realistic context, Lina and I would read from script or I would ask her questions and we’d record these conversations, identifying the sound or speaking feature we were practising. Lina also wanted to practise things like intonation and public speaking which is something she had to do, on occasion, in her work. We worked with a number of monologues, news reports and listening to intonation. By building her confidence and by using drilling, Lina was able to deliver long speeches of text with a reduced accent and clearer pronunciation of vowel and consonant sounds.
Adult English (EFL)
As a global businessman, Mr. B wanted to improve his general English, focusing primarily on his speaking skills, grammar and vocabulary. With Russian as his primary language, Mr. B’s grammar was very mixed with frequent mistakes concerning articles, tenses and correct prepositions. Mr. B also wanted to expand his vocabulary for business meetings and vocabulary associated with the different areas of industries he was associated with. Mr. B was also a strong kinaesthetic learner, and learnt best through drilling, repetition and moving / making / doing things. I used a range of tutoring devices from portable whiteboards, flashcards, cut outs, pictures and games to tutor Mr. B. These were also very useful as many of our lessons took place on planes, in the back of cars or for brief periods in residences. I taught Mr. B verb patterns associated with business which helped him to communicate better with his employees and partners. I also extended his limited vocabulary and challenged him to use more academic words which I thought he would find useful. Upon initial assessment Mr. B was around B1. However, after two months of lessons he had begun to use more language and correct grammatical structure which demonstrated B2 usage.
Adult Creative Writing & Story Writing
Gosia had written film scripts in the past and after a hiatus from writing, wanted to get back into it. She wanted to focus on writing short stories of fiction, rather than scripts. Gosia’s first language was Polish but she spoke fluent English and also wanted some guidance and support with her written grammar. I used a range of brainstorming activities, non-conscious writing techniques and starters to ignite Gosia’s imagination and allow her to plan out and see what stories and subjects interested her and where she wanted to take her writing. I set her different homework and tasks, some based on character development, others based on themes. When Gosia had her confidence back, we set about finalising the project she wanted to work on. I continued to introduce new writing tasks to Gosia so she could always approach her writing in new and fresh ways. She was always scared about starting the first draft for fear of it being bad, but I helped her overcome this through thinking of the first draft in different ways. Gosia began writing her short story and I guided her through the process, commenting on grammar and giving suggestions where possible.
Hobbies and Interests
Outside of tutoring I am a professional writer and actor. Writing has always been a passion and hobby of mine and I am fortunate to be in a position where I can write as part of my living. I have written three plays which have toured the UK and transferred to America. I have just finished my fourth play, working on my fifth and developing further projects for TV and film. I fell in love with writing as a form of expression and to tell stories which can impact people’s lives, their attitudes and change the world. I have been so affected by poems, plays and stories in the past that it made me realise how powerful and profound language can be. It is this passion for language which drives my tuition and lessons.
Additionally, I enjoy keeping active and regularly exercise 4-5 times a week either through weight lifting or classes. I find that this is extremely important, not just for my physical health, but for my mental wellbeing. I notice that when I exercise it has a direct influence on the work I produce and the lessons I teach and is part of my daily routine.
Finally, I try to travel as much as I possibly can. I was fortunate enough over the Summer to visit Kazakhstan, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Cyprus through tutoring. I think as a tutor you need to be versed and aware of other cultures and a well-travelled tutor can have an influential impact on students.
“Alex has been teaching our family many years including my nephews and our two boys (6 and 8 years old). We are so grateful that Alex helped developing our boys writing skills as well as including preparing them for their 7+ Entrance Exam, with Alex support they are now attending one of the top boys’ school in London. He is very patient and warm personality, we are very much looking forward him continue helping our boys in the future.” Mrs. S
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