Lesson Plan #2 – It’s Not About the Nail

This lesson uses a recent video called, “It’s Not About the Nail.”

Level: Intermediate + (can also be adapted for lower levels)
Language: Relaxed pronunciation, just, pressure, idiomatic vs literal meanings.
Type: Video and discussion.

1. Ask the following questions

– Are you a good listener? Is your (insert other person) a good listener?
– Are you under a lot of pressure at work?

Expand on their answers with more questions about listening and pressure.

2. Show the following video

This could be shown before the lesson or after asking the questions from part one.

Transcript

Woman: It’s just, there’s all this pressure, you know, and sometimes it feels like it’s right up on me, and… I can just feel it, like, literally feel it, in my head, and it’s relentless, and… I don’t know if it’s gonna stop, and that’s the thing that scares me most; I don’t know if it’s ever gonna stop.

Man: Yeah… well… you do have a nail in your head.

Woman: It is not about the nail.

Man: Are you sure? Because, I bet that if we got that outta there.

Woman: Don’t try to fix it.

Man: No, I’m not trying to fix it. I’m just pointing out that maybe the nail was causing..

Woman: You always do this. You always try to fix things when all I need is for you to just listen.

Man: See, I don’t think that is what you need. I think what you need is to get the nail…

Woman: See, you’re not even listening now.

Man: Okay, fine, I will listen. Fine.

Woman: It’s just, sometimes, it’s like, there’s this achy, I don’t know what it is. And, I’m not sleeping very well at all, and all my sweaters are snagged. I mean, all of them.

Man: That sounds.. really hard.

Woman: It is. Thank you.., (they go to kiss) OW!

Man: Oh come on, if you would just…

Woman: Don’t!

3. After the video

Pronunciation:  Usually: pressure, literally (BrE vs AmE), relentless, achy, snagged.

Language:  Usually: right up on top of me, relentless, I bet, achy, snagged. Also, there are a few examples of relaxed pronunciation and different ways to use just and see. Go through the different examples from the text.

Discussion: Ask your students some questions about the video:

– What problems did the woman have?
– How did the man try to help?
– What did the woman want the man to do instead?

Then, move on to more general questions about the student related to the video.

Role Play: Do a role-play using the transcript above.

 

4. Homework and Expansion

Ask your students to write a summary of the video. Also, ask them to write example sentences using the language that they struggled with during the video.

To expand the lesson you could go into different stereotypes of men and women (good listeners, for example).

Have You Thought About Teaching Online?

If you have ever considered teaching online, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources. I love helping other teachers get their start online.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Skype Mic

Get a Student Today

The number one question I receive from other teachers who want to teach online is, “Where do you get your students from?”

There are a million and one ways to get students: Most of them include starting up a website, driving traffic to your site, and then converting that traffic into trial lessons. But, if you’re new to online teaching, then there is something that you can do right now to get your first student(s). All you need is Skype, a Paypal address, and this easy method.

It took me a while to start doing this. I wanted to do the complicated things first before actually getting started. So, I built my website, advertised, did a whole lot of posting in forums and classifieds, and got a few students.

Then, after getting my schedule around half-full, I decided to contact some of my old students from Spain to see if they would like to take lessons online with me.

Three students signed up straight away. The funny thing is, I didn’t need to build a site, think about my marketing plan, or do anything else to achieve this. If you’re new to online teaching, I suggest that you do this first. The transition and learning curve will be much easier if you get something started with familiar students. And, it’s easier to move forward once the ball is rolling.

Posting on Facebook or Twitter is just hoping that someone will bite. Instead, contact each student directly and take the time to write them a nice, personal message; ask them about their English learning and their life; offer them a twenty minute free catch up on Skype so you can convince them to start taking lessons with you again.

The Newbie Approach

Don’t have any past students? How many non-English speaking friends (or contacts) do you have? Would they be interesting in talking to you online to improve their English? Offer them online lessons for a great price, and then, once you start gaining confidence and improving as a teacher, ask them to refer you to their friends.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. But, there is no better way to get the ball rolling by getting a student, getting paid, and taking it from there.

So, start TODAY and get teaching online. Then, come back here and let me know how it went.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Marco Raaphorst

Join the Growing Movement

If you have ever considered teaching online, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources.

I love helping other teachers get their start online, and signing up to receive my updates is a great way to connect with me.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Making Decisions

Lesson Plan #1 – Maximizer vs Satisficer

This is one of my favorite lessons that I use for my students. it is inspired by this article (point 1) and looks at some key language, along with a great discussion about making decisions.

Level: Pre-intermediate +
Language:
How long does it take you…?, tend to be, to get anxious, make decisions, should have.
Type: Reading and conversation

1. Ask the following questions:

– How long does it take to fly from (insert home town) to (insert other city)?
– How long does it take you to get to work?
– How long does it take you to walk to (insert something specific to student)?

Ask a few more questions that are specific to the student starting with how long does it take you. Ask similar for questions but use  How long does it take (insert different person) to..?. Have them ask you similar questions.

2. Next set of questions

– When you’re in a restaurant, how long does it take you to order?
– What about your husband/wife/friend?
– Do you know people who take a really long time ordering?

Ask similar questions, for example: deciding on a holiday destination, choosing a hotel, food shopping, decisions at work, what phone to get, and then more specific questions.

3. Satisficer or Maximiser – Reading

Tell them that you think they are a satisficer/maximizer. Ask them what they think these two terms mean. Have them read the description out loud:

Satisficers are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied

Maximizers want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photographer that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.

Pronunciation: Correct mispronounced words and practice, usually: criteria, mediocrity, photographer, examined.

Language: Usually: criteria, mediocrity, optimal, requirements, examined – ask questions relation to new language.

Discussion: Talk about whether they think they are a satisficer or a maximizer, along with their friends and family.

Before reading the next section, ask them: Generally, who is happier: a satisficer or a maximizer?

Read the following:

In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they’re often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice.

Pronunciation: Usually: Schwartz, anxious

Vocabulary: Usually: tend to be, anxious – ask questions related to new language.

This is a great opportunity to review should have; Ask: Have you bought something recently that you shouldn’t have bought?

This leads to a great discussion about buying things that you shouldn’t. A lot of my students find this question difficult, and when they do, I do a quick review of should have and talk about how it is used, give some examples, and then ask them more questions.

Other topics of discussion for this section: Do we have too many choices when in a supermarket/booking a holiday/vacation etc.? Do you read online reviews? 

4. Making decisions

Explain that the lesson has been about making decisions. You can extend the lesson at this point by asking them if they are good at making decisions. This usually leads to talking about decisions at work, who makes them, and whether these decisions are good ones. Think about their hobbies and interests and how you can ask them about making decisions related to their interests.

5. Homework and review

Have your students write about whether they think that they are a satisficer or a maximizer. Ask them to include any new language that they have learned where possible. Review key language in next class.

6. Further resources

Ted Talk – Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice. This talk leads to interesting conversations and is a follow on from this lesson. Here is the video:

Have You Thought About Teaching Online?

If you have ever considered teaching English online, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources.

I love helping other teachers get their start online and signing up is a great way to connect with me.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


JackBocaJuniors

Falling into ELT and cultivating my passion

JackBocaJuniors

Here I am in Argentina at the stadium of Boca Juniors in 2007. Football (soccer) was my passion for a long time.

 

As I mentioned in my post about becoming an independent teacher, I encourage my students to shape our lessons and choose topics and articles that are relevant and interesting to them.

One student this week chose an article that talked about the following advice – “Follow your passion!” The author had a rather negative view of this commonly given piece of advice and argued that passion is cultivated rather than something that is innate – (“FOLLOW YOUR PASSION’ IS CRAPPY ADVICE.“)

This led to a great in-class discussion and got me thinking about how I got into what I do now: ELT and web design & marketing. I am very passionate about both fields and love what I do.

But, six years ago, I had absolutely no interest in either. I had created a couple of free sites but found it unrewarding. As for teaching, I had no experience of this and expected to get back into marketing after completing my travels. If I had followed my passion back in 2007, I would have become a professional footballer (soccer player). The Premier League’s loss is my students’ and clients’ gain.

I started teaching more out of necessity (easy to find work; could live abroad with my American girlfriend) rather than anything else. I had considered it once or twice as a profession but kind of fell into it without really knowing what it was about. And, I also fell into web design because I created my website for my new teaching business and started to build websites for friends.

I had certain skills that I could transfer over to these two new worlds, and I am a perfectionist so I made sure that I got both right. But, I didn’t go into teaching and web design because I was following my passion; this came later. And what Cal Newport describes as cultivating a passion really resonates with my outlook on my two professions:

“…It requires you to approach your work like a craftsman. Honing your ability, and then leveraging your value, once good, to shape your working life toward the type of lifestyle that resonates with you”.

I love thinking about myself as a craftsman, always improving, always following my own path. He goes on to differentiate between excitement and true passion:

“The sensation of excitement about a particular idea is often a different sensation than the type of deep passion that drives people into a fulfilling career. Excitement comes and goes. True passion arises after you’ve put in the long hours to really become a craftsman in your field and can then leverage this value to really have an impact, to gain autonomy and respect, to control your occupational destiny.”.

Have you followed your passion into ELT? Or has it been cultivated through becoming an ELT craftsman?

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Follow Your Own Path

Going alone – Becoming an independent ESL teacher and following your own path

Follow Your Own Path

Asturias, Spain. Following your own teaching and business path leads to wonderful things.

“We make the world we live in and shape our own environment.” Orison Swett Marden

You know the story: Man/woman is fed up with the rat race and his/her terrible boss, escapes his/her 9-5 hell and ends up becoming their own boss and making lots of money.

Sorry to disappoint those looking for a similar story here, but that isn’t exactly how I ended up with my own language school and becoming an independent ESL/EFL teacher. My 9-5 hell could be better summarized as an enjoyable time teaching students in Spain with differing degrees of independence, depending on which company I was working for at the time. My terrible bosses weren’t too bad (especially compared to some of my friends’ bosses), and, well, let’s leave how much I make out of it for the moment (let’s just say that I earn more now than I did back then).

I used to work for different institutes in Spain, teaching English to children, teenagers, adults, and businesspeople. On the whole I enjoyed the experience and liked the people that I worked for. There were certain things (some really important things) that I didn’t enjoy doing or agree with, and I realized that the more people there are above you, the less you can shape your own path.

But now, I am the one who makes the decisions and I am free to shape my lessons as I see best. Because of this I have grown into a much more effective teacher and have created a working environment that I love.

Following your own teaching path

Being able to shape your own methods as a teacher is an incredible thing. I’ve been able to grow and learn so much over the past few years.

Here are some of the methods and strategies that I use (note: this is for general English lessons and not exam preparation):

One-to-one specific lessons – I teach individual lessons (not a limitation that I’ll always stick to) and make the classes as specific to each student as possible. I work on their weaknesses and stick to topics that are relevant to them. It’s also good not to worry about discussing slang and strong language when it is suitable for certain students.

Organic lessons – I have a general plan and certain things that I want to cover for each student, but I go into each lesson with an open mind and let the lesson take its own course. I also encourage my students to take control of their learning and shape their own lessons.

Conversational English – I focus on conversational English and get my students using their English. Examples of grammar are done with a focus on real English conversation and role plays. I also love introducing real, engaging, and relevant materials before, during, and after the lesson.

Repetition – I repeat things that we have learned in the past by using different conversations and resources.

Language coach – I’m a language coach and not just a teacher of English. I motivate, inspire, and guide my students on their own learning path, recommending self-learning methods that produce real progress.

The above is the basic outline of what my student can expect when taking lessons with me. The feedback that I receive from my students is that they feel that they are making real progress, and I have seen this progress first-hand.

I will go into more depth about my methods in later posts, but for now I want to highlight that setting up my own school and becoming a freelance tutor has allowed me to fully incorporate methods that I have found to be the most effective. My students see real results and that is the value of what I give them.

This wouldn’t have been possible if I was still working for someone else.

Following your own business path

Here are some of the features of my online teaching business:

The best students – I only teach students that fit my teaching criteria. I’ve picked (or fallen into) a couple of really great niches. Being able to target any type of student in the world has HUGE implications for online freelancers.

I work at home – This is really important for me and something that I love doing. Being from the UK, having family in France, and having an American wife means that I may well be moving around a lot in the following years. This type of job allows me to work where I want.

Higher income – I charge based on the going rate for my niches and how much I can offer. The only cut that is taken is from my Paypal, minimal hosting costs, a small amount of advertising, and, of course, taxes. The potential for well-paid classes is massive when teaching online.

Flexible schedule – I set my own hours and decide when to teach and when not to teach. I used to agree to lessons at inconvenient times at first but don’t do this anymore. All my lessons are within 10am and 5pm.

Flexible holidays – I take holidays when I want to. I actually take less holidays now than I used to, but that is something that I decide to do.

I’m my own boss – I love making decisions about all aspects of my business and teaching. No one to put limits on my growth as a teacher and a business person.

I sometimes take the above for granted. I have worked for many companies and language schools and nothing comes close to what I’m doing now. Working from home and being the one who makes the decisions is pretty special.

I have also come to realize that the student-teacher relationship is a reciprocal one. I put up with some terrible students when first starting out as I took on anyone who got in contact with me. That was especially true when working for my different language schools.  I don’t take those students on anymore and only work with people who pay on time, come to class, and make the most out of the time we spend together.

The students that I’ve had over the past couple of years have been incredible. I’ve made some really special relationships with people from all over the world. All my students are good students and there is no need for me to take on the bad apples anymore.

Becoming my own boss and following my own business path have allowed me to have the above.

Steps to take to start freelancing

If you are wanting to follow your own path and teach English online, then there are some steps that you need to follow. Here is a guide to what you will need:

1. A clear vision of your business – What type of lessons do you want to give? How much do you want to charge? What will your cancellation policy look like? What times are you available to teach? How and where are you going to get students from? Thinking through these and other questions will help you create a clear strategy of what your online teaching business will look like.

2. Your own website – Your website is your base and where your students will go first. This is where you introduce yourself, give information about your lessons, convince potential students that you are the teacher for them, and finally have the necessary forms to collect information. It’s pretty hard to make it as an independent online teacher without a website. And make sure that you have your own domain name. (more about having your own website).

3. Other necessary tools – These include Skype or Google Hangout and a way to receive payment (Paypal is my choice).

This is a pretty basic outline of what you will need to get started. Each of these points have already been or will be discussed in detail on this blog.

Becoming an independent online English teacher has allowed me to follow my own path in so many ways. Are you following yours?

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Guardian

Are online newspapers a good resource?

Newspapers as a Resource

The Guardian is a popular newspaper resource for online teachers and learners.

I have seen many new English teachers make a beeline straight for the online newspaper when first taking lessons. It seems a great idea at first, right? You choose an article that you think is interesting, send it to the student, they read it before class and out loud during class, then you look at key vocabulary before having a discussion about the topic.

The above lesson plan isn’t very effective for the vast majority of students as the language used is far removed from the student’s desired language use.  Every student that I have taught has said that improving their speaking is their number on priority (non-IELTS students). I always ask the following question before using any resource, “Is the language used in this resource something that my student can use?”

A Passive Activity

When I used newspapers during lessons in the past I always seemed to be telling my student that the vocabulary and phrases that they come across just aren’t that common for everyday use. Do your students want to speak just like a newspaper reads? If not, then you shouldn’t make that type of language the focus of your lesson.

I advise my students to read newspapers as a passive activity; something to be done in their free time. I push them towards interviews as they are great for learning conversational English, but if they are really interested in world affairs then they are better off reading about them in English. And even then I try to send them to more conversational pieces like blog posts and podcasts.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t use news articles at all, I just use them in a different way. And thanks to a great resource from +Sean Banville, my preparation time has been dramatically reduced.

Using newspaper articles effectively

When I realized that the discussed method of using newspapers as a resource was ineffective I started to break down the stories and rewrite them for my students. I also dissected the topics, thought about the key issues, and created warm up activities and discussion topics related to the story. Then I found Breaking News English and realized that is was already there for me.

With a two paragraph simplified version of a particular news story, over 40 activities, and two recordings, this site has made my lesson planning much easier. I especially love the warm up exercises and find them perfect for my students.

Using stories from newspapers should be engaging and fun for your students. Using news stories in this way has improved my lessons and has ensured that my students are learning the type of language that they can use in everyday situations. Opinons are shared and use role-plays as a way of really getting into the different topics. My students are engaged and learn a lot of language that they can use with their English speaking friends.

How do you use newspaper articles in your lessons and what other resources do you use?

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Trial lesson

Offering trial lessons and converting students

Trial lesson

Making trial lessons $1 filtered out the time wasters.

But, I thought that you offered free courses?

This was probably the number one thing I heard during my first year of online teaching. I had offered new students a free twenty-minute trial lesson which the majority of my students interpreted to mean free lessons for life.

Two of the biggest mistakes I made at the start were not charging for the initial trial lesson and targeting students in countries that were much lower down the economic spectrum than the UK and US.

I remember sitting in a cafe, my website and adwords campaign had just gone live, watching the requests come flying in. After twenty minutes and twenty requests, I paused the advertisements and started emailing my eager students back. I think from the initial twenty I arranged ten trial lessons, and from those ten, not one went on to take lessons.

Because I had the word “FREE!” written all over my website, Google also started ranking me for keywords such as, “Free online English lessons” and “Online English tutor free.” After a year of going through a lot of trial lessons, I decided to make a radical change and charge one whole dollar for a twenty-minute trial.

And it worked beautifully. It was a filter that only let through serious students with the capability of making online payments. When I woke up and saw that someone had requested a trial lesson, I knew that the likelihood of them being a time-waster was minimal and that I could go into the trial with a great chance of converting the trial student into a long-term student.

Did the number of requests drop? Absolutely. But I was spending my time and energy on students that I knew were seriously looking for lessons.

I used the 80/20 principle and focused on those who were taking a trial because they were serious about improving their English and knew what was involved. Just that one change got rid of most of the time wasters and released more free time focus on other things that were much more effective. It also made me much happier.

How to conduct a trial lesson and get lifetime students

Through experience, I go into the trial lesson fully expecting that they are going to start taking lessons with me. This is especially true for referrals and those looking for exam preparation.

Here are some things that have worked for me:

1. Expect them to take a lesson – This makes you use language like, “So, how many lessons would you like per week?”, instead of, “So, do you think that my lessons sound right for you?” It also comes across to the student that you are a sought after teacher.

2. Be enthusiastic – Make your lessons sound exciting and make your student know that they are going to progress with you. Keep your explanation of your lessons simple and make them want more.

3. Correct their English – Most students want a teacher who will be able to correct their mistakes. Make some notes on their mistakes and explain a few things. Give some examples and say that you’ll review this in their next lesson. Students love this.

4. “So, do you have any questions?” – I usually ask this question near the end of the lesson. There are usually a couple of questions, sometimes there are none. Once this is over ask the question used in point one and get your calendar ready.

I keep trial lessons short (10-20 minutes). I see some teachers offering a one hour trial lesson (and for free!), which I think is crazy. Twenty minutes is enough time to showcase your teaching skills, get to know each other, sell your lessons, and answer any questions. If your student is still unsure then you could offer a discounted first (real) lesson, which is something that I have done in the past but don’t do anymore.

The follow-up

If your student says that they need to think about it and that they’ll get back in contact with you, then you need to be proactive. In these situations, I send an email straight after the trial summarizing your lessons and what you have talked about. I then follow this up with a quick chat on Skype a few days later (if they are online).

This has worked for me, maybe not always straight away, but sometimes six months later I see them online, ask them how their English learning is going, and see if they would like to try and start again with you. I’m pretty selective about who I do this with as some students were just put off by the price. It’s no use chasing students and spending lots of time following up if you know that they aren’t going to take lessons with you. But, if you have lots of free hours, you might want to do this a little more in the beginning. Just know that they aren’t likely to be the best students long-term.

The no-shows

Even the most enthusiastic students, those who seemed really excited during the trial lesson, don’t show. I have a knack of knowing which students are going to show and which are going to fall off the face of the earth after agreeing to a lesson. It’s hard for me to dissect this, but over time, you’ll be able to do this too.

I usually send the invoice just after the trial and send them a link for the cancellation policy. I explain that the class needs to be paid well in advance of the lesson and will send a quick email if this hasn’t been done the day before.

I usually plan some admin to do during this hour, so that if they decide to no-show, I’m not just sitting there scrolling through some random article until my next class.

If they don’t show then I send them an email telling them that they have missed a lesson. If you don’t hear anything then good luck getting that lesson fee! If they reply and say that they are sorry and want to try again then use your cancellation policy and don’t budge. There might some circumstances where you give them another chance or half-off the next lesson, but these should be few and far between. Be strong and ask for payment within 24 hours (for both classes), otherwise, you’ll cancel their lesson. You don’t want to be waiting for your student for a second time.

This sets the precedent right away and stops you from wasting time chasing students who are just going to flake out anyway.

To summarize:

1. The first stage of converting students is making sure that only serious students sign up for a trial in the first place.
2. Use the advice above to convert as many students as possible.
3. Be strong with no-shows (time wasters) and don’t waste too much time chasing.

I hope that this post has helped and I would love to hear from you other ESL onliners about how you conduct trial lessons and how you convert as many students as possible.

Have You Thought About Teaching Online?

If you have ever considered teaching online, or if you are already an online teacher, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources.

I love teaching online, and I love helping others do the same.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Lyle

Choosing your teaching space and limiting interruptions

Lyle

This guy can make quite the noise. He also pops up out of nowhere!

From Monday to Friday at around 1pm, and again 10 minutes later, my 12lb dog sounds like he wants to rip someone’s head off. I never knew such a small dog could sound so angry and ferocious. The nice, friendly mailman pulls up and drops off our mail, and then 10 minutes later pulls up across the road.

He didn’t use to be like that. He was fine and friendly towards our old mailmen. But, one day when we were all outside our temporary mailman decided to approach our little dog and start acting like a dog: barking, running around, and looking aggressive. Ever since he associates mailmen and their trucks (and even their sounds) as the number one danger.

This means that my beautifully created downstairs office is now left unused. It’s terrible to be in a lesson and have your little dog barking like a madman. So, I’ve moved upstairs into the spare room away from the ferocious little beast.

Having a good space to teach in is a challenge. Most of us don’t have a separate wing where everything is peaceful and without interruptions, so we have to try to work with the best that we’ve got. Other potential interruptions can be the telephone, people knocking on the door, children, partners, and I’m sure you can add some more.

Achieving interruption-free lessons.

I overcame the barking problem by moving upstairs, far away from the noise. This also took me away from the centers of action (living room, kitchen etc.) and the front door. My wife also needs to walk upstairs to pop in for a quick question (the stairs being the barrier) so I get less interruptions from her during the lessons too.

I also try and block my lessons from 12-4pm. This allows me to get into teaching mode during the afternoon and it means that those who want to contact me know that it’s best to do this in the mornings. This could easily be switched to mornings or evenings depending on your situation and the time-zone of your niche.

I have toyed with the idea of getting an office space, but there haven’t been many available within walking distance of where I live. I also have managed to overcome interruptions by having a good space at home.

So, try and think what space is best for you and what times you’ll receive the least interruptions. And, if you do get interrupted, make the interruption part of your lesson (asking my wife for something to show an example of a request), apologize, and move on.

Have You Thought About Teaching Online?

If you have ever considered teaching online, or if you are already an online teacher, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources.

I love teaching online, and I love helping others do the same.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online


Niche Featured

What’s your niche?

Niche

Do you have a teaching niche?

Let’s get our business brains on while we talk about niches.

I see a lot of online teachers giving general lessons without really being specific about what they do. Conversational lessons are the most common, with some offering business English along with exam preparation.

But, it usually stops there. To really stand out from the crowd you should focus on one, two, three (or more) niches and offer yourself as an expert in this/these specific niche(s). This isn’t to say that you have to make your whole website just about your niche, as you can achieve this through having different areas on your website.

We are going to talk about ways to think about your niche and how this can help you.

All about niches and how it brings your students

Why is it important to focus on a niche instead of giving general lessons?

Firstly, having a niche makes what you offer much crisper. You are able to get what you offer across clearly, and your content will resonate will those who you are targeting.

Focusing on a niche gives you expert status in that field; your value is much greater to those students than just any other teacher. You know what works for those students, what they are looking for, and how much they are willing to pay.

In addition, focusing on one area of English makes lesson planning much easier; having to plan for learners of different needs and levels increases the amount of time you spend working outside of your classes.

In my case, I have spent a lot of time teaching people from Spain and know exactly what mistakes they are going to make in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. The same goes for Russian students, IELTS exam preparation, and business English. I am in the process of creating sites specifically for these learners.

Having these niches greatly helps my referral rate. As I offer a lot of value, my students talk about me with their friends. They tell them that I am worth the cost of the lesson and my value is much greater than someone without this specialized knowledge and skills.

There are so many different niches out there. The best way is to start with what you have experience in and what you are interested in. If you are new or would like a change of direction, think about which niches are profitable and fun.

Some students might be profitable, but can also cause problems. Getting that combination correct will greatly improve your income while also ensuring that you enjoy what you do..

Exam preparation as an example

From my experience, focusing on exam preparation is a great area to be involved in. Students have a sense of urgency because the test means so much to them.

Some learners have to take an exam so that they can work, study, or just move to a new country. They have a lot riding on the outcome of the test which means that they are more focused. Homework is done, they don’t miss as many lessons, and they are looking for someone with experience and the skills to help them pass.

I met a girl who focused on teaching pilots who needed to pass an English test to be able to fly. These students generally had the money to pay for her high rate, were impressed by the fact that she had the experience of the exam, and needed lots of lesson really soon because their exam was coming up, an exam which is really important to potential pilots. They also referred her to their other  pilot friends because she helped them pass this test.

As someone who has prepared students for exams, there is no better feeling when you help someone move to a country abroad or allows them to study in an English speaking country. I stay in contact with my students and see pictures from Australia and other countries where they have moved.

But, this is just one example. There are hundreds of different niches that you could concentrate on.

Be your niche(s)

Imagine that your expertise is on teaching business English. In this case, your website and pictures should look professional, and the content on your site should be business related. Branding yourself is a lot of fun and the rewards make the initial effort worth it in the long-run.

You don’t have to limit yourself to one niche. There’s nothing stopping you from creating two, three, or more websites, each focusing on a different niche. Or, you can split up your website into different sections creating content for each area that you teach.

Offering specialized lessons will help you find more students, help you focus on your teaching, and can potentially help you charge a higher rate. So, what niche will you choose?

If you need help choosing a niche, see my follow up post to this here.

Have You Thought About Teaching Online?

If you have ever considered teaching online, or if you are already an online teacher, be sure to join other teachers who have signed up to receive my free updates and resources.

I love teaching online, and I love helping others do the same.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

how-to-teach-engish-online