Published on December 16th, 2015 | by tefl


Tips on starting as a private ESL Teacher.

One of the more lucrative routes as a TEFL teacher is offering one’s services to private clientele.   Though many public schools and institutions will have packages in addition to salary to offer a prospective teacher, many TEFL teachers go private at some point, whether that’s just to top up their current income or as a full time career move.   Private tutelage can often offer a few perks where other jobs cannot, such as setting your own hours and schedule to being your own boss, and it’s no wonder why many travellers prefer the looser arrangements that come with private tuition as opposed to term length contracts.   Below are a few myths about teaching English as a private teacher, as well as a few things to consider when going private.

Going Private

One of the most important things to remember when going private is valuing your own work.   The small, seemingly inconsequential act of valuing your own skills, qualifications, and talents is vital, and affects everything from how your students see you to how much you can ask for your time.   Being TEFL qualified means that you put the time, effort, and energy into your qualification, and therefore you have something to offer others.

Decide What Your Time is Worth

If you value your time and talents, you’ll know better where to start when setting an hourly rate with your students.   Though each teacher (and indeed, freelancer of any type) will have different means of setting a price, it’s not unusual to research what other TEFL teachers are charging in the private sector within your city.   Ask around.  Be prepared to negotiate your rate but be firm in where your bottom line is.   You should aim to have a price that gives potential students pause for thought, as the quick smile and a handshake might mean you’re selling yourself short.

And don’t forget that, as a freelancer, you will need to cover the costs of all school supplies used just as a school would, and you should factor this into your costs.

Advertise your Value

Though you want your hourly rate to speak to your quality, it’s not the only speaking you want to do.   Potential students are going to want to know what kind of qualifications and experience you have in teaching English as a foreign language, but they are also going to want to see other, more subtle cues that you are worth their money, such as being in demand.   Many TEFL teachers looking to break into the private TEFL arena will offer prospective students a free lesson in order to draw them in, especially if the potential student could be a long term client.

Always be Professional

Regardless of the field it pays to be professional.   English language clients are looking for someone they can trust to deliver, provide good value for money, and not create additional stress.  It’s important to dress the part when meeting a potential client.  Be ready to give your business card, and discuss the rates up front instead of waiting until the client asks.   Never put down or speak badly of other teachers, schools, etc as it’s simply not professional to do so.  And be ready to offer up bespoke solutions to any client problems when it comes to learning English as a foreign language instead of pre-packaged advice.

Set Long-Term Goals

With a bit of practice and regular time set aside to continue growing your skillsets, it’s more than possible to make the jump from public to private English Language tutelage.   Keep your sights on the long term goals of financial and client stability, build your web presence through the use of social media, and develop your marketable skills in your spare time.   Though it can often be tempting to drop your rates again for just one more student, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture: the career you are working hard to build.

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