Teacher, Lecturer or Tutor?

29 September 2023

Hi there! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between a "teacher," a "tutor," and a "lecturer."


Hello Teacher,

Teacher, Lecturer or Tutor?
Teacher, Lecturer or Tutor?

My name is Saddam, and I am from Uganda in Africa.

I request your help to differentiate between three words and their deep meanings: "teacher," "lecturer" and "tutor."




Thanks for this great question, Saddam. All three words are nouns used to describe educators. All three teach students in different ways and have different experiences and qualifications. Let's look at each word so we understand the differences.


A teacher is a professional educator who teaches students.

When we think of a teacher, we see a smaller classroom with 15 to 25 students. A teacher might teach in front of the class or go around to work with individual students.

In the United States, we call those who teach students up to 12th-grade teachers. They teach all subjects in elementary school or specific subjects like math, English or history in middle or high school.

Teachers are usually required to have an advanced degree, such as a master's in education. They also must pass a certification or test in general teaching knowledge and specific subjects.

Ms. Leslie is a first-year elementary school teacher. She recently completed her certifications and spent many hours in a classroom helping another teacher.


A lecturer, or professor, is an educator who teaches in colleges or universities.

Lecturers often teach larger classes and stand in front of a big room. For one-on-one time with students, they meet outside the classroom during office hours.

Lecturers or professors usually have an advanced degree, like a Master's or Ph. D, in their subject or special field of study.

Angela is an economics lecturer at a university. She has a Ph.D., but this is her first year of full-time teaching.


A tutor is an educator who specializes in a certain subject or content area. Tutors usually help students one-on-one or in small groups.

They do not need a degree. However, some professional tutors have at least a bachelor's degree.

High school students can be tutors to other students if they have advanced knowledge in a subject.

Tutors usually give study help to students at different times, like in the evening or on the weekends. They make lessons more personal and help students with specific problems.

I have a big English test coming up, so I am meeting with my tutor after school every day this week so I can be prepared.

Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Saddam.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

qualification – n. a special skill or type of experience or knowledge that makes someone suitable to do a particular job or activity

grade— n. a level of study that is completed by a student during one year