The Study Room is a small, privately owned centre committed to helping students excel and achieve their very best. If you are reading this page then you are likely to be a concerned parent searching for a trustworthy tutor for your child.
In Hong Kong the majority of students have some form of regular private tuition. Many students joke that school starts at 4 pm. There is a perception that this is fueled by parental competitiveness and social pressure. We understand that in Hong Kong, and most of Asia, grades are extremely important. Good exam results are crucial for students to secure their future. As teachers with a long history of teaching local students we understand this and have adjusted our teaching style to better serve the exam oriented needs of senior students. We’ve since found that all our senior students, regardless of whether they study in international or local schools, appreciate and benefit from this approach.
There are many excellent and dedicated teachers working in local schools but the reality is that with 38-42 students in a class they cannot give enough attention to individual students. Many NET teachers are very qualified but may not be able to understand the needs of local students and the best methods to help them excel. Using the student- based teaching methods of Western education may be more enjoyable but won’t necessarily lead to an improvement in grades.
With tutorial centres keeping an eye on profits and trying to stay affordable, students may not be getting the quality help they need. However, it is important to note that a higher hourly rate does not necessarily indicate quality. We’ve had many conversations with irate parents who paid large fees only to have their child given worksheets to fill in, or placed in large anonymous groups. Whether you choose The Study Room or not, we sympathise with parents who are prioritising their child’s education in the family budget and spending a lot of money on tutors in the hope of seeing better results. From years of seeing both good and bad practices we hope that the following information can help you decide on the right tutor for your child.
Cost of Tuition
There is a wide range of pricing in the Tutorial market. The difference should be based on experience, commitment and results achieved. If tuition seems reasonably cheap, look closer, it may be a lot to pay for an unqualified or inexperienced tutor. To make salaries more attractive many tutorial centres often claim to provide teaching materials so that tutors don’t have to spend time preparing work. This implies that all students have the same needs and will benefit from the same materials. Ironically, this same approach is practiced in a lot of trademarked and prestigiously marketed writing methods. Shop carefully and ask questions.
Literary analysis poses a further challenge for local students who are studying IB, I/GCSE and HKDSE Literature. Literature is a very small part of the local syllabus, if it is studied at all. Literature is often taught as comprehension. To give their children an international education many parents are enrolling their children in IB programmes. IB and I/GCSE literature require both comprehensive language skills as well as literary analysis skills. The presentation skills required to present an IOP or IOC also pose a further challenge. English Language and English Literature are different subjects. If your child is studying Literature, they need a qualified Literature teacher.
Many tutors see themselves as a support person, there to help students complete their homework assignments. Even worse, many tutors correct or write assignments for students without actually teaching them anything. In fact, parents are often relying on a tutor to be a teacher substitute. That requires a different level of commitment and a lot of experience. You need to assess your child’s needs and the type of tutor you require.
Qualifications and Experience
A lot of people teaching English in Hong Kong are not qualified English teachers. To identify problems, to develop strategies to help students improve their grades, to reinforce and explain linguistic structures, to understand marking criteria for various exams and prepare students for exams, all take experience and training.
You should ask about a teacher’s experience, references, and results achieved by past students. How familiar is the tutor with the marking rubrics of different courses? Are they familiar with the syllabus your child is studying?
An experienced teacher should be able to give you a realistic assessment of your child’s ability and what they hope to achieve.
Many Tutorial centres place students in randomly selected groups. How does placing students in large tutorial classes differ from what is happening at school? The cost of private tuition may be prohibitive for a lot of parents and group tuition is their only option. Choose a small group, preferably not more than 4 students. If students want to organise joint lessons it is important that they be close in ability to ensure that each of them improves.
For younger students, group work can be effective if it is specific and targets a particular area of grammar or writing. Drama classes and Integrated Humanities classes for a small group of students can help them gain general knowledge and develop communication skills.
However, weekly or bi-weekly individual lessons are the surest way to guarantee an improvement in your child’s grades.
The Study Room
As experienced teachers we can assess your child’s abilities and decide on the best methods and materials to ensure an improvement.
We can also prepare students for syllabus requirements in advance. This would be particularly useful for students who have not ben taught literary analysis but who are planning to enroll, or have already enrolled, in IB or I/GCSE courses. Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter and updates on our weekend and school holiday classes.
We ask that parents and students meet us before scheduling lessons and supply us with samples of the student’s work along with their latest school report.
If your child is willing to work we can help them to improve their grades. Every child can do well if they are taught effectively. Our lessons are focused and time is not wasted. Students can email or call tutors to ask questions between lessons. Parental involvement is encouraged and we maintain regular contact with parents to discuss their child’s progress. As a small, privately -owned centre our best marketing comes from the recommendations and testimonials we receive from parents and students