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The 10 top tips for getting your freelance language teaching career off to a flying start

The 10 top tips for getting your freelance language teaching career off to a flying start

So you’re looking for something to help you get your foot up on the teaching ladder?

We’ve come up with some 10 top tips to help you get your foot up on the ladder and shine as a freelance language teacher. Thanks to UK Language Project for the inspiration for these tips.

Here we go…

Tip 1: Make sure you know which language you want to teach

A good place to start is your native language of course. You may also consider continuing on with a language you studied or are studying at Uni as a way to give back, and also to keep your skills up to date.

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Tip 2: Decide what’s for you (Online vs offline) and your target market

During a global pandemic online teaching is kind of the only option. But pandemics end. And when everybody crawls out into the light there will be a wealth of opportunity for offline, face to face teaching as well.

Online and offline both have their pros and cons. Competition varies as well. Online teaching is notoriously competitive but you also have a huge global marketplace to pitch to.

With that in mind, deciding on ‘who’ your are going to teach is important. Adults, younger learners, business people, retirees…there are lots of options. Having at least some idea will help you plan resources, courses and materials much easier.

Tip 3: Go pro bono

The best way to gain experience in the beginning is to offer your teaching for free. Ask family and friends if you can try your skills out. Language exchanges are also a fantastic way for you to exchange your skills and also learn/improve another language.

Tip 4: Look into qualifications (optional depending on language you want to teach)

For English language teaching you will definitely need a CELTA as a minimum. For other languages a relevant degree is useful.

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Tip 5: Prepare all equipment, materials and all things financial

This could make up a whole blog post. To dig down further take a look at the full freelancing language teacher ultimate guide on the UK Language Project blog.

  1. Equipment

If teaching online you’ll need a good webcam, headset and/or speakers. You may also need access to a printer/scanner.

  • Materials

Once you know who you’d like to teach (see earlier), start putting together a library of resources you can use in your lessons. It can be a mix of online materials and your own materials.

  • Financials

You’ll need to register as self-employed. See HMRC website for further details. In terms of accepting payments you should accept payments in advance if you have your own private students. And keep to a 24 hour cancellation policy. You need to protect your livelihood and if students cancel (which they will!) you need to have enough time to replace the work.

Tip 6: Get yourself on some tutoring marketplaces

These are competitive, but great if you’re just starting out. Their algorithms do all the marketing for you. The guide mentioned earlier goes deep into the dos and don’ts of getting set up on these. We’d suggest heading over there to really get into the nitty-gritty.

Tip 7: Say ‘Yes’ to everything

Early on just say ‘yes’ to everything. If it puts you out don’t worry. The aim for the first few months should be to gain experience and get a feel for the market. You’ll feel your way through and improve as you go.

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Tip 8: Get reviews to help you stand out

5-10 reviews is best. You need to ask your students for them. Often the tutoring marketplaces will send automated emails to your students to get them to leave a review but they can be ignored.

Best way – ask your students to leave that review and follow up with them to check they did!

Tip 9: Make further, incremental improvements

In 3-6 months you’ll be moving forward. Take stock here. Look at what’s working and what needs improving, or cutting entirely. Dump what’s not working for you and max out what’s working. Aim to make the next 3-6 months even better!

Tip 10: Reach out to more sources of work

Agencies and language schools often take on freelance teachers for specific courses. If after a year or so you’re serious about a career then get your name on their lists. The work is sporadic but the courses are longer and you’re protected in case of cancellations etc. These clients can often be a great addition to your current clients.

So there we have it. 10 great tips for getting you on the road to freelance language teaching. Let us know how you get on!

Written by Ed O’Neil of the UK Language Project

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