Access to private tutoring, or shadow education, significantly contributes to the increasing disparities in the attainment of language learners from different family backgrounds worldwide. In ESL/EFL contexts, many students subscribe to English private tutoring (EPT) in hopes of getting good English results in high-stakes examinations to secure a university place. This longitudinal narrative inquiry investigates the experiences of a financially disadvantaged student who managed to pay the tuition to subscribe to an EPT class in Hong Kong. Multiple sources of data collected throughout the year from six rounds of in-depth interviews with the student; three reflective essays; classroom observations and interviews with the student's tutor, schoolteacher and parent yielded thick description of the student's narrative. Informed by Norton Pierce's notion of investment, the analysis reveals how the participant invested in EPT to overcome existing educational inequalities. The tutorial class was perceived by the student as a place to expand her social network with students from prestigious schools, with a hope to ultimately gain the economic capital for escaping poverty. This study has implications regarding the effects of inequalities of educational opportunities in affluent societies. It indicates the need for further research on language learners' experiences in the shadow education context. Copyright ©Routledge.