Do You Want To Become a Freelance Language Tutor? Here’s What You Need to Know

Freelance language teaching can be a huge opportunity. You can work on other projects/jobs on the side while not being tied down to a 9-5 type role.

Let’s go over 10 action steps you’ll need to take to get yourself started on the road to freelance language teaching. There’s more detail on each of these steps in the ultimate guide to starting your career as a freelance language teacher on the UK Language Project blog.

Action #1: Choose your language

It may sound simple but make sure you definitely know which language you want to teach. It might be an easy choice. Or you may be choosing between your native language and the language you studied at Uni. You can teach more than 1! As long as you’re at C1 level or above in the language you’ll be fine.

Action #2: Plan the ‘How’ and the ‘Who’

More and more tutors are jumping online to deliver lessons. It’s not for everyone though and face to face is still incredibly popular (Covid-19 notwithstanding). You can focus on 1 or both methods of delivery. It’s your choice.

You’ll also need to decide who you’d like to teach. For some this is easy. But for others who don’t really know yet it may require a bit of a think. Perhaps you may even need to gain some experience teaching different types of people (e.g. kids, adults, teens etc.) before you decide who you feel comfortable teaching.

Action #3: Teach for free / offer language exchanges

One way to gain experience is to offer lessons to family and friends for free. Ask around. The uni can also help with language exchange opportunities. You teach for an hour and your partner teaches you for an hour.

Optional action #4: Gain a qualification

If you decided to teach English as a foreign language you will need at least a Cambridge CELTA to stand out. Otherwise, specific qualifications to teach other foreign languages are not really required. Not at the start anyway. So skip to next action!

Action #5: Organise pricing, equipment, materials and payments

This is a huge step. How much to charge is important. Do your own research. The price you can charge will depend on the languages you offer, the competition in your area and simply how brave you are! Don’t price too low, arrange payment for before lessons and have a cancellation policy of 24 hours to protect your income. Students will likely cancel, and you need a safety net if you’re to make this work.

If you’re teaching online it’s worth investing in a decent mic and webcam as well as getting familiar with how to use the main tools for teaching e.g. Skype, Zoom, Teams etc.

You can use your normal bank account for taking payments. If you use a marketplace to offer your services they will often do the payment side of things for you.

Action #6: Use tutoring marketplaces to cut your teeth

There are lots to choose from. Go to your favourite search engine and type in ‘tutoring marketplaces’ and see what comes up.

The ultimate guide mentioned earlier goes into much more detail than we can here on the most popular marketplaces. As well as some solid advice on putting your best foot forward with your profile so we’d definitely recommend looking there for more details.

Action #7: Do as much teaching as you can

Once you’ve got a few students do as much teaching as you can to gain experience. You want to be over the vicious cycle of no experience as quickly as possible. Do whatever you can to get there!

Action #8: Get 5 – 10 reviews

Once you’re got reviews, you’re no longer a newbie. Hooray! You may have to be proactive and ask your students for reviews, but it will be worth it.

Action #9: Keep going

The first 6 – 9 months is going to be more about R&D than anything else. Double-down on lessons that went well. Try to attract more of the type of students you enjoyed teaching. And just keep getting those hours up. The more months you get under your belt, the more experience you’ll have moving forward.

Action #10: Apply to language teaching agencies and schools that take on freelancers

This is probably for when you’re further down the line, but agencies and schools often have longer courses and cancellation policies that can give you a huge stability of work. Mixing this up with your own private students can often prove a winner if you’re in it for the long-run.

And there we have it. Good luck!


Jayson Short • 18/08/2020

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