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There is an upsurge in the number of learners using personal tutors or extracurricular lessons. There is also an increase in the extent of tutoring (in terms of hours per week). This can be seen if you look around at your peers (whether you are a learner or parent), and by the increase in tutor facilitation companies locally and internationally.

The aim of a tutor (and extra lessons) is to assist their client in achieving their academic poteAn image of a learner studying but not enjoying it.ntial. This may be improving from a fail to a pass, from scraping a pass to gaining confidence in a subject, or pushing an achiever beyond what standard schooling can achieve. Research (VanLehn 2011) shows that on average working with a tutor will improve a learner’s mark by a subject symbol. So what are the benefits of extra lessons, and how does Advantage Learn provide this for their learners?

The shift from school

In South Africa, school was historically the ‘home base’ for most of what children did. As the world changes, however, there is a shift away from a school centered environments. In sport, most children and teens partake in club sport if they wish to excel in their chosen discipline(s). Many sports are also now available to learners that are not considered ‘school sports’. This is also becoming true of the academic experience. School offers a base for a child’s education. Schools do the best they can with the resources, class sizes and hours that they have. Many parents (and learners) now want more, as they seek to help their child the best that they can.

The tutor experience

Traditionally, tutors deal with small groups or individuals. Parents usually hire a tutor to assist their child one on one. Whether a tutor is working with one learner or occasionally a small group (2 or 3),

there is a much higher incidence of personalised communication with the tutor than a teacher can achieve.

In a classroom, a teacher has a range of abilities to teach and often faces a classroom bulging at the seams. Thus struggling students can get left behind, and promising students are not challenged.

Extra lessons with a tutor usually include the added expense of travelling to the locations of the class (if not at home or school) and the inconvenience of trying to coordinate schedules to fit in the time for the class (plus travel time outside of standard school hours). What Advantage Learn are doing is providing the tutor experience and benefits, but from your own home at the learner’s own pace and in a way that suits your family’s particular lifestyle.

The tutor advantage

In the age we live, both tertiary education and the job market are highly competitive. As Caitlin from Advantage Learn puts it, “In the South African context, competition is much stronger now than it ever has been with people vying for places in tertiary institutions. There are not enough seats at tertiary institutions. When I was in high school, it didn’t even occur to me that I wouldn’t get into varsity, at the varsity of my choosing. Now it’s a much more competitive academic landscape – there is a very real concern among students, so they want to push themselves and are ambitious in terms of knowing exactly what they want to do and where they want to do it”

The inside lane

Teacher showing a student how to write calligraphyPrivate tutoring helps navigate this competition by providing learners with a set of skills outside of that which they are given at school. Tutors are generally well-educated individuals who have developed skill through their own learning and teaching experience. They use this knowledge to impart tips and techniques to their clients that add to the class content provided by a learner’s school. A good tutor doesn’t spoon feed a learner but equips them to succeed.

Engagement and personalisation

Added to the benefits of new academic skills imparted by a tutor, is the personal benefits a learner can gain from a more engaging and personalised learning experience. When a learner takes part in an extra class, there is already an extra vested interest and motivation on behalf of the learner – they and their family are choosing to spend financial and temporal resources to achieve better academically. Whether this is in an in-person setting or online (such as the AL.com’s past paper course or revision courses), there is a sense of ownership of learning. The one-on-one nature of interaction with a tutor means that learning can the personalised and tailored to each learner. As with Advantage Learn’s online courses, students can work at their own pace, rewind and revisit sections, and ask questions (via comments) that the instructor will respond to. The nature of online learning also means that students are not solely dependent on notes they may have taken – they can seek further information and ask for clarity in real time.

The Advantage Learn approach

A woman taking notes on multiple mediums

Private tutors are expensive.

They range from around R200/hour to upwards of R400 per hour (for the most
experienced educators).

This is in part because of the time used up by sitting with a single student and say, going through past papers with them step by step. What Advantage Learn has done is take that same intense, high-quality teaching experience – in the form of highly sought after private tutor, Trish Pike – and filmed her going through their curriculums. With Maths Online dor R199 / mont, you can watch over 180 hours of Trish teaching the entire maths curriculum via studio recorded videos. Further to this, students can ask any maths question they have and it will be answered within 24 hours by a top quality maths teacher.

The tutor future

Engagement with a tutor allows a learner to reach outside of the usual boundaries of their everyday resources. We live in the internet age where information is always available – sometimes only if you know how to look for it. Encouraging a learner to improve themselves through seeking extra knowledge and skills that may not be initially provided to them can only set them in good stead for the future.

It is clear that supplementary education is here to stay for a while yet. Whether by way of one on one tutoring, online learning, or extra courses. The key is to ensure that your time and money is not wasted by choosing the best and most efficient options available.

This article was originally published on 04 Nov 2016

About the author
Jax Heilgendorff

I have watched the development of AL.com for years and marveled at the ingenuity and passion shown from the start. As a Linguistics major, university lecturer and burgeoning copywriter, the Advantage Learn story is one close to my heart. I hope to add to the development of educational thinking in South Africa by helping to relate topics and create spaces for thought on the challenges and opportunities facing South African learners, students, and parents.

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