Whether the economy is rocking, or whether things are looking a little shaky, there’s one thing that you can guarantee. People will always be looking to learn languages! And this trend is going nowhere.
With that in mind, we thought we’d condense more than a decade’s worth of language teaching experience into this 10 step guide to help you get started in a career as a freelance language teacher.
Straight out of University. Implementing this 10 step process correctly could have you making money from day 1. So what are we waiting for? There are students that need teaching!
This might be obvious. You may only speak English so decide to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). Or you may speak another language and decide to dedicate yourself to teaching that. Perhaps you studied a language e.g. French at Uni and feel like you’d like to continue using it to help others achieve their goals.
If you speak more than 1 language, you may have to decide whether you want to specialise in teaching more than 1 language or stay focused and teach the language you’re best at. This is a personal choice. It’s up to you!
There are so many different ways to teach languages. This guide is for those of you who would like to go the freelance route. Teaching either 1:1 or small groups off your own back and collecting your teaching fees directly from your students. Not usually connected to an institution or employer (though you can choose to work freelance and do this as well – see later).
All our network of language teachers are freelance teachers. They invoice us for their work just as they would do a private student.
To start, you will need to focus on how you want to deliver your lessons. Are you going to meet people for the lessons at their homes, offices, public places in your local area? Or are you going to teach purely online via platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype? Perhaps a mix of both would work for you. Or maybe you just don’t quite know yet. That’s ok, you can change things as you go.
The most important thing is to commit to taking action.
You will need to think about the types of students you would like to teach.
Do you love the energy and enthusiasm of young children?
Or do you prefer the (perhaps more) intelligent conversation that goes with teaching business executives or casual learner adults who are looking to learn in a more relaxed atmosphere?
Maybe helping teens and older children get through their school exams motivates you.
There is certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to planning who you are going to teach. Again, you can mix and match here. But we would highly recommend going for a niche group of students who you think you can help most and planning things around them. It will make you stand out as an expert. Rather than a Jack (or Jill) of all trades! It also cuts down time and expense buying textbooks and workbooks; as well as planning lessons and courses.
As the old saying goes: “If you appeal to everyone you appeal to no-one”
Now we’ve chosen which language(s) we’re going to teach and we’re crystal clear on who we want to be teaching, what now? Step 3, that’s what!
This is not really for the reasons you would expect. Gaining experience is of course valuable to put on your CV for a potential employer. But as this is freelance teaching, your employer will be the (hopefully hundreds!) of satisfied students you teach (or their parents). They’re unlikely ever to ask for a CV.
This is more for you to get a final feel for teaching and a last chance to walk away and say “no this isn’t for me”. Better to decide this before you’ve invested your time and money in the next steps than decide once you’re up and running. You could have saved yourself months of work!
Ask around. Do you have friends/relatives who have always wanted to take up or improve the language you want to teach? At this point it doesn’t have to be the target group in your plan you made earlier, although if you can find some people in your target group to try out your teaching, even better.
If you’re still at Uni, is there any way you can help your fellow students with some free lessons? Make sure to ask them to write a review or testimonial of your teaching in exchange.
Bonus points for getting them to do a video review, you can use that in later steps for a massive impact.
Are you looking to learn another language? Pair up with somebody else at University and do a language exchange. You teach for an hour and then they teach you for an hour. Your University language centre should be able to help you with that. The key here is to ask around. And keep asking until you get the answers you need.