teach english online

How to Teach English Online: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started (2018)

teach english onlineSince I started teaching English online in 2011, I’ve seen this space explode.

There are many reasons why online teaching is so appealing.

It opens up a lot of creative opportunities for you as a teacher, giving you the ability to go down your own teaching path and teach the way that you believe is best for your students.

Teaching English online takes away the geographical restrictions. You can access any English learning market in the world, which gives you more leverage to charge what you feel you deserve.

And of course, moving online allows you to teach from home or from anywhere.

If teaching online appeals to you, this article will give you the information you need to thrive in this space.

I focus on helping teachers or teachers-to-be do this independently.

Before I share my best tips, know that there are different options for you.

(Note: some of the resources I link to in this article are affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you sign up to a service at no extra cost to you.)

THE THREE OPTIONS: GET A JOB, FREELANCE, GO INDEPENDENT

There are three main ways that you can teach English (or any language!) online:

  1. You can find an online teaching job (check out VipKid – U.S. and Canadian residents only)
  2. You can post your profile on freelancing websites
  3. You can find your own paying students

I’ve never done number one. I’ve had experience with number two. And I’m all in on number three.

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I got started teaching English through a platform for teachers. I created my profile, made a video, and set my prices.

I soon got a lot of new students and received positive reviews.

When I started, I didn’t have any training or prior teaching experience. I had just got back from traveling and needed something that I could do from anywhere so that I could spend time visiting my girlfriend (now wife) in America.

I believe there are two main reasons why I was successful on this platform:

  1. I spent time crafting my teaching profile
  2. I got in early

The biggest problem with teaching through an online platform is the sheer number of teachers there. Once people find out about new platforms, they get bombarded with new teachers.

If you advertise your services on these platforms, make sure you stand out.

Be clear on who would benefit from your lessons and why. State what you can offer (your teaching niche) and use the platform to get in front as many potential students as you can.

Going independent was the best professional decision I have made. I’ll tell you how this happened…

After finishing college, my wife got a scholarship to teach English in Spain. I enjoyed my initial teaching experience, so I got certified and we moved to Spain together.

I got a job teaching in two companies and in my second year, in a language school. I also offered private lessons during this time. Here is how I attracted private students:

  • I designed website that highlighted what I offered
  • I put up fliers around the city and posted on local classified websites
  • People got in contact with me and I taught them privately

Why Going Independent Might Be for You

Doing your own thing online gives you control over the following:

  • your business
  • what you teach
  • how you teach
  • your earning potential

One of the reasons why I left the original platform was because they changed a few policies. I didn’t have any control over this. If you are investing time and effort into offering value for your learners, it’s wise to do this on a platform you own (more about this later).

Going independent means that you can decide to teach what you want to teach. When moving online, all barriers are broken down. You can target any learning market in the world. If you want to focus on IELTS preparation, then you can. You aren’t restricted by your location.

It also gives you control over how you teach.

I enjoyed my time teaching in Spain, but I had to follow specific lesson plans and use methods that my bosses wanted me to use. When you are your own boss, you can follow your own teaching path and decide how you want to deliver your lessons.

It’s worth stating at this point that this isn’t for everyone. You will need to put in the work if you want the rewards. Additionally, it comes with extra stress and you have to research taxes and everything else.

If you want an online job, check out VipKid (if you’re based in the U.S. or Canada).

But if you want to go independent, then read on to learn more!

WHAT YOU NEED TO TEACH ENGLISH ONLINE (THE BASICS)

You will have to include the following in your initial setup: a VOIP service, a payment gateway, a cancellation policy, and although not a requirement, a headset.

Let’s start with the software we need to have to be able to connect with English learners from anywhere in the world.

Connecting with Your Students

teach English online using ZoomFirstly, make sure that your computer and internet are fast enough and working as they should be.

There is nothing more frustrating than having a bad connection when teaching.

To be able to connect with students online, the best two options available are Zoom and Google Hangouts.

I have moved my students from Skype to Zoom as the connection is better and it has fewer problems.

Google Hangouts has many features, including a whiteboard (through a third party app).

Both allow you to connect with anyone in the world for free.

If you’re looking for a simple solution – something that everyone has heard of – check out Skype. You are limited by what you can do, but the connection has improved a lot over the years and most students have experience using this.

Note: if you want to teach your lessons using your phone, this is possible. Here is a video I made on this:

Receiving Payment for Your Online Lessons

PayPal is the obvious choice for receiving payments; it has been around for a long time and most online teachers use it as their tool of choice.

I have used PayPal for years now, and after researching other options, I still use it.

(Note: if you’re going to create and sell online courses, you might want to use something else in addition to PayPal.)

Getting started is really simple: after signing up, you can easily place payment buttons on your website (more about your website later), and send invoices directly to your students through email.

When you send invoices, your students will receive a link where they can enter their payment details. This money is then transferred to your PayPal account, which in turn can be withdrawn to your bank account.

PayPal typically charges around 2.9% + $0.30 for every transaction, but withdrawing to your bank account is free. (These fees may vary depending on your country.)

A drawback of using PayPal is that it isn’t available in all countries. This link has information about the countries where it is accepted.

A Strong Cancelation Policy

Writing up a cancellation policy is something that every teacher needs to do.

Keep it simple and stick to it. This will cover your back when students cancel or don’t show to your arranged lesson.

Just having a policy isn’t enough; you have to clearly explain this policy to your students, and make sure that they understand what the consequences are when a lesson is canceled, or if they don’t show.

Good Audio

A headset isn’t obligatory, but it certainly helps. Instead of a regular headset, I use the following: these earphones and this microphone.

The value you get from these items is fantastic; the earphones, although very cheap, are really comfortable and they have great audio. The quality of the microphone is incredible, and many professional podcasters use this for their shows.

If you prefer a headset, I’ve heard great things about this one.

In most cases, Apple earphones (or the equivalent) will be sufficient.

When I first meet with my students, I suggest that they use earphones or an external microphone too.

This increases the effectiveness of my teaching, and also my enjoyment of the lessons.

Tax Implications

I’m not a legal or tax expert.

Talk to a professional and ask about legal and tax implications where you live.

Here is a video on this:

TO TEACH ENGLISH ONLINE INDEPENDENTLY, YOU’LL NEED TO GET STUDENTS

Being an independent teacher means bringing in students yourself.

In this section, I’m going to break this down and give you some short and long-term strategies.

There are many things to consider; let’s start with the question of who you are going to teach and what lessons you are going to give.

Your Teaching Niche

Being clear on your teaching niche is the key to thriving to bringing in new students.

It’s not just good enough to say that you teach English online.

Get clear on the following:

  • who you teach
  • how you teach
  • what area of English you teach

Let’s say you want to focus on teaching conversational English. Great! But how are you going to teach these lessons? What type of learners do you want to teach? What materials are you going to use?

Having clarity on this helps you give the best lessons you can and it helps you attract the types of learners you want to target.

Having said all that, don’t let this stage put you off from getting started.

Your niche will evolve over time and it’s impossible to know what type of teacher you’re going to be without any teaching experience.

There are many reasons to work towards becoming specialized in teaching a certain niche (more about this here), but one of the key reasons is making sure that you are targeting students who can and will pay you what you want to be paid.

This brings us nicely to the next point…

A Pricing Structure

pricing online lessonsThere are two different questions to answer when coming up with your pricing structure: how much do you WANT to earn? And, how much CAN you charge for students in a certain niche?

The answer to the first question will vary depending on your circumstances, expectations, and earning goals. Answering the second question helps you find the niche that fits your income needs.

The going rate for many established online schools is anywhere between $20 and $50 an hour (charging more is possible).

To charge these sort of prices will involve you having to think about what type of students you should target, knowing where to find them, and then converting them into paying students.

As well as having your base rate, you should also offer packages at discounted rates. Offering an incentive will bring in more students, and having students sign up for more than one class improves your retention rate and makes things easier for you.

You should also think about how you want to approach giving a trial lesson. When starting out, I recommend giving away free trials.

Implement paid trials once you have more experience and higher demand for your lessons.

For more about pricing, click here.

Sell Courses Too!

At this stage, it’s worth noting that there are various ways that you can bring in an income when you teach online.

Over the past few years, I’ve focused on selling my online courses

Here are six ways to earn money as an online English teacher:

A Teaching Website

teach-english-online-post-website-example

My website is at the center of everything I do

Having a website is a must for the long-term.

This online presence will become the center of all of your marketing efforts.

There are a host of options when it comes to getting your own teaching site. From my experience, and after doing a lot of research, I have whittled it down to three:

1. Have someone to build a website for you.

2. Use a drag-and-drop template based website builder (my recommendation is Weebly), and create your own site.

3. Use WordPress, and again, build the site yourself (see our free step-by-step guide on getting started)

If you want to reduce the starting costs, options two and three are the best. Both of these options will cost you between $3-10 a month if you keep things simple, and you’ll need to buy your domain name separately (use Godaddy for this).

Weebly is great for starting out. I used a similar website builder for my first site but moved it over to WordPress in 2012.

WordPress has become the platform of choice for web designers, and I can’t recommend it enough. There are certain things that you have to learn, but using our guide will help you get started.

For more information on building a website, see this post.

Create a System that Will Convert Learners

teach online system

A system that works

A big mistake I see teachers make is that they create their website without any type of sales system in mind.

A learner will land on their site, take a look around, and then leave.

What we want to do is to create a system that will convert learners into paying students.

We can do this by setting up our site so that our visitors take action by:

  • requesting a trial lesson
  • downloading something for free (and adding learners to our email list)

Choose one of those options and create your site so that this is what they do.

For example, when a learn visits my site I tell them to download my free book.

Once they download this book, they get added to my email list. I send them useful content and information about my lessons and courses.

If you focus on giving one-to-one lessons, you can tell your learners to request a trial lesson with you.

Put a big CTA (call-to-action) on your homepage, about page, blog posts… any page that you create.

Once you have this system set up, you’re ready to bring learners on to your website.

How to Find Students and Build Awareness

I always get asked the following question by teachers who want to teach online: “How do I get students?”

There are certain things that you can do to attract students now, while other strategies will bring in students over the long-term.

The most important thing is to know who your target market is and where to find them.

Being able to define your audience is the first step.

This is often overlooked, but knowing as much as you can about potential students will help you bring them to your website and convince them that they will benefit from taking lessons with you.

Most marketing strategies that are effective in this field can be grouped into two different groups: short-term and long-term.

Short-term strategies include things like advertising and bring immediate results.

This is perfect for when first starting out, or whenever you need to quickly fill your schedule.

Some of these methods cost a little money, but there are many ways that you can do this for free. For example, you can post on sites like Craigslist and offer your services.

Long-term strategies don’t have such an immediate effect, but once you have these established, your initial work will bring in students for the months and years ahead.

These strategies include creating content on your site, improving your site’s search rankings, uploading videos, and using social media.

youtube teach english online image

I love creating videos on YouTube

For example, I create videos for my YouTube channel. At the end of every video, I tell my learners to download the book that I mentioned before.

There are some videos that I made back in 2014 that still bring in a constant stream of students.

How much content you create to help you build up a passive system depends on your goals, where you currently are with your online teaching journey, and what you offer.

You may only want to use short-term methods. That’s fine. But be open to new ways further down the line.

I can’t talk about getting new students without mentioning referrals.

Referrals are the most efficient way to fill your schedule. You should concentrate your efforts on trying to get as many as you can.

Just ask your current learners if they know anyone who would also benefit from your lessons.

Connections and Community

When I started teaching online, I initially had the mentality of being a lone-wolf; I tried to do everything on my own, worked in isolation, and hardly ever asked for help.

But, I have recently changed my approach and have connected with many fellow ESL/EFL teachers. This has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me. 

Since I have connected with others, it feels more like a group effort. I can now bounce ideas off others and ask for advice when I need it.

And, my long-term goal for this website is to create a space where online teachers can connect and work together to succeed in online teaching.

To find other teachers, use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Put yourself out there and start creating relationships.

(Click here to follow me on Facebook)

Materials and Resources for Online Lessons

The type of materials that you will use in class very much depends on your niche and teaching style. There are some online courses that you have to pay an initial fee to have access to. However,

There are some online courses that you have to pay an initial fee to have access to. However, there are many great free resources that I have found through my contacts.

Here are three examples: Film English (lesson plans based on films), Breaking News English (lesson plans based on news articles), and for something a little different, ESL Hip Hop.

I’ve used the above sites and many others for my general English lessons.

What’s the best way to find these resources? Go on Twitter or the other networking sites and connect with teachers.

Tools You’ll Need to Teach Online and Other Considerations

I use Google calendar to keep my lessons organized, and several spreadsheets to record what I have done with my students and for other admin tasks.

I save my lesson plans to Evernote.

I use WaveApps to track the financial side of things.

I run my email list through Active Campaign

… I could go on and on. To me, this is the fun part. These tools make our life easier and make teaching online fun.

A quick note on getting started:

This is often the hardest part.

My best advice is this: don’t wait to be perfect because that will never happen.

Teach to get experience. Create videos to learn how to make better videos. Start marketing your lessons now.

And read this if you want to learn more about making this transition.

Thanks for reading. Please share if you found it useful!

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

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earn more online

Online Teachers: What’s Stopping You from Earning More?

One of my first posts talked about how starting your own teaching business gives you the potential to earn more.

The reason is simple: you are in control of all aspects of your teaching business.

You can set your own prices. You can teach more lessons. You can create online courses.

However, many never earn what they set out to earn.

I wanted to know more so I asked the following question on my Facebook page:

The answers were fascinating. I decided to make a video to explore this further. Here it is:

NOTES

  • Think about your priorities. Is this really important to you? Are you making it enough of a priority?
  • If you’re not getting enough students, look at your conversion funnel, how you get the benefits of your lessons across, and what you’re doing to bring in more learners.
  • If you’re hesitant about raising your prices, know that they can be flexible.
  • If you’re against earning more because you think it will affect your work/life balance or your happiness, know that I have an amazing work/life balance, I’m happy, and I’m earning more. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.
  • If you want to earn more, get started, enjoy the process, keep improving, and be grateful for what you have.

Don’t just read these notes. Watch the video. I think you’ll get a lot out of it.

Prefer to watch it on YouTube? Click here.

And then, get my free training here. Or my premium training here.

Thanks for reading!

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A Simple yet Powerful Way to Build a Teaching Business on the Side (English or any Language)

“I want to do online teaching in the future, but I’m ready to jump in just yet.”

This is something I hear often.

And I get it.

You might have a job, other projects going on, or you’re fearful of what might happen.

However, starting now and building for the future is smart. Here is an 8-step strategy that will allow you to build an audience of learners over the long-term.

The commitment needed?

1-2 hours per week. Check it out…

The 8 Steps to Building Your Teaching Business on the Side

1. Start an email list (get the lite plan) using Active Campaign (aff link). Be sure to follow their guidelines and learn what you need to do to get started. Here is my guide to email marketing.

2. Create a new list and a form (AC has a guide to this), and then, link this to your Facebook page (start one if you don’t have one).

3. (Optional) – build a one-page website and include this opt-in form.

4. Create mini-lessons on Facebook and help people. Don’t overthink what you’re going to do. Create your first video based on what you think is best today (keep it short) and take it from there. Create text posts and share images too.

5. Include a call-to-action at start and end of every post. Tell people to sign up to your email list. You can send them to your tab on your Facebook page or to your website. Offer something for free or give a good reason for learners to get on your list.

6. Send an email every week. Again, don’t overthink it. Share learning tips, vocabulary, grammar explanations. Or just tell stories. Engage with your followers.

7. When you’re ready to teach a few lessons, send out an offer on Facebook and by email. Add urgency to your offer by limiting the amount of lessons available or by setting a deadline.

8. Grow your Facebook page by boosting your posts, sharing posts to groups, and by interacting with learners on a one-to-one basis.

**********

Use this as a guide.

If you want to learn more, get my free mini-course…

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Taxes teaching online

Setting Up a Teaching Business and Don’t Know What to Do About Taxes? Watch This…

People constantly ask me about how taxes work when building a teaching business.

I also get questions regarding registering a business and becoming self-employed.

Here is my best advice…

Watch on YouTube.

Disclaimer: I’m not a legal expert. This video shares my experience when it comes to taxes and business registration. That’s why you should…

Talk to Someone ?

Set up 2-3 meetings with an accountant in your local area, explain your situation, and create a plan moving forward.

Most offer a free initial consultation and will help you according to your situation.

Like I said in the video, I was putting off making some changes as no one likes to deal with taxes.

However, now that I have clarity on what I need to do, I can move forward with confidence.

My Experience

I started out as a sole proprietor. I did this as I wanted the easiest way to get things off the ground.

As my business grew, I decided to incorporate.

I did this through Legal Zoom (aff link) and registered an s-corporation (I think this is mainly a U.S. term).

This was based on the advice from my first CPA.

Software Recommendations

I use a couple of programs to help me track income and expenses and run payroll.

WaveApps: this is free and you can connect your bank account(s) or upload your statements and then categorize your incomings and outgoings.

Gusto: I use this to run payroll (to pay myself!) so that the right amount of tax is applied and gets paid automatically.

Video Setup

I need to turn the levels down on the mic, otherwise, I really like it.

Here is what I used to film this video (aff links):

iPhone 7+ – it’s an amazing camera

Microphone – need to turn down those levels!

Tripod – I got the smartphone holder too

Over to You

What type of business entity do you have? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

hustle-lifetyle

What Do You Want Your Teaching Business to Look Like? – Hustle vs Lifestyle

After the birth of my daughter, I took 10 days off.

This gave me time to get away from my business and reflect on how far I had come. It also gave me the opportunity to think about what I want my teaching business to look like moving forward.

In my latest video, I go through the two ends of the spectrum: hustling vs lifestyle.

This is an important concept to understand as you build your own teaching business. Here is the video:

My Teaching Business (from Lifestyle to Hustle)

At first, I was content teaching 20-25 hours per week.

I did a bit of marketing here and there, but students kept finding me through my website and through referrals.

For the first two years, I didn’t have the desire to expand and do other things.

But in 2013, things changed.

I suddenly had all this motivation to make a real difference and to increase my income. That’s when I started making online courses.

The change of mentality was key. The desire to grow my business started this new phase.

Hustling vs Lifestyle

You will hear both arguments from entrepreneurs. There are those who will tell you that you’re not working hard enough and from those who will argue that you’re working too hard and that you should work smarter.

This is where anxiety can creep in. That guilty feeling that you should be doing something else with your time.

The key is this: it all depends on your goals and what you want to get out of this.

If you want to speed things up, then you need to put in the work. You need to work smart and hard.

If you’re happy with where you are right now, then great.

If you say, “I’m going to work smart from the outset and make it a lifestyle business,” then know that it’s hard to work smart without getting experience first.

I know how to create a good video because I’ve made over 1,000 videos in total. I’ve had the practice to get good at it and the experience to know what works.

Scaling, Long-Term, and Confidence

Long-term, if creating a lifestyle business is what you want – for example, working 12 hours per week while earning a good income – then look at ways to scale.

Creating online courses is a smart way to do this.

Know that your goals might change over time. Mine did. I had no idea that I would want to have a list with 100,000 English learners when I first started this.

You might want to hustle now, slow down, hustle again. It all depends on you and the situation you find yourself in.

Be open to change as you set out on your journey. But also be confident about what you want to get out of this. This will help you deal with that guilty feeling.

Over to You

What do you want your online teaching business to look like? Has this changed over time / can you see this changing?

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vanessa-joy

Beyond One-to-One Lessons: An Interview with Teacher Vanessa (Watch This!)

Vanessa Joy has built a very successful online teaching business.

She teaches one-to-one and, recently, she opened a new subscription program.

In this interview, she shares how she managed to have all this success in such a short amount of time. You’re going to love this.

Thanks for watching.

Interview Takeaways

Making Mistakes

Teaching English online there for those who commit to it. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes at first. Who doesn’t?

The key is to take action and learn as you go.

Vanessa also talked about the importance of taking courses (she is a TEOC member, after all!) and learning what you need to do to get this right.

Safe Environment

Vanessa’s goal is to give her learners a safe environment. A bad comment on one of her videos isn’t the end of the world and she’s surprised by the lack of nasty, YouTube style, comments.

She’s also a serial banner!

Getting Students and a Clear Marketing Strategy

Vanessa uses email marketing to fill her schedule and sell her courses.

In summary, this is how it works:

  • Give something away for free
  • Create content and send learners from your content to your free download
  • Create automated emails that build trust and sell your lessons

Click here to learn more about how to do this.

Subscription Program

Vanessa has gone all in and created a monthly course for learners.

Doing something like this is a big commitment. Vanessa was prepared for this and is creating the type of materials that she was creating for free anyway. As you can tell, she’s on top of it all.

Resources Mentioned

Over to You

Has this interview inspired you? What have you learned?

Let us know in the comment section below!

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tips-teaching-english-online

Teach English Online: 16 Powerful Tips to Help You Earn a Living Doing What You Love

Teach English Online Tips

Thanks for stopping by!

Teaching English online independently is a way for you to earn more, teach the way you want to teach, and work from anywhere in the world.

You can choose your schedule, target learners who you love working with, and scale your business over the long-term.

Sounds great, right?

The problem is this: without online marketing know-how, it will be difficult for you to fill your schedule. You’re also going to need a plan of action to ensure that you make progress with this over the long-term.

This post will give you 16 powerful tips to help you get this right.

And if you are serious about doing this, take my free video training (sign up at the bottom of the page).

Let’s dig in…

1: Get clear on your teaching niche and how you teach

To teach English online successfully, you will need to do think about your teaching niche.

Some teachers are super-specific here. For example, you can teach IELTS speaking preparation to learners from Brazil through your own method.

Others offer general lessons to anyone who wants them. Either way, you’ll need to gain clarity on what your niche is.

Your teaching niche includes the following:

  1. what you teach
  2. how you teach
  3. who you teach

The clearer you are with this, the better you’ll be able to resonate with learners. You’ll be able to tell specific learners, with confidence, that you are the teacher for them.

You might not get full clarity straight off the bat. In fact, this will be an ever-evolving process. But consciously going through this – thinking about your current skills, what you enjoy, and who you would like to work with – will lead you in the right direction.

Don’t let this stage stop you from getting started. Get teaching as soon as you can (more on this later).

Take a look at this for an example of a teacher who got this right.

2: Create a website that is set up for conversions

teach-english-online-post-website-example

My website is at the center of everything I do

To sign online students up for your lessons, you’re going to need a website.

Most teachers set their website up incorrectly. They set them up for browsing, not for conversions. They have all this information for people to read, but there is no clear action to take. Learners land on their site, take a look around, and then leave, never to return again.

When creating your site, set it up for conversions. Know what action you want your learners to take and convince them to take it.

The action you choose depends on your current goals. But it usually means one of two things:

  1. downloading something for free
  2. signing up for a trial lesson.

Both of these allow you to follow-up with anyone who takes action and you can…

3: Send learners through a funnel to build trust and desire

What’s a funnel?

Let’s look at an example:

I make lessons on my YouTube channel for intermediate English speakers. At the end of each lesson, I include a call to action (CTA).

My CTA is a book that I give away for free. The learner enters their name and email address and I send them my book.

From there, I send further emails that give them useful lessons. I also build desire for what I offer (in the past, one-to-one lessons – these days, it’s my audiobook and online course).

I then present my offer and convince learners to sign up.

Why is this important?

Because if you send learners you don’t know you yet straight to your offer, you conversion rate will be very low.

Learners take lessons with teachers that they know, like, and trust. And giving away free content and following up through email is the best way to reach that stage with your learner.

This means you will need to…

4: Get an email list from day one

Email marketing is the best way to sell your lessons and build an audience over the long-term.

I use email in two main ways:

  1. To send specific subscribers through a welcoming / sales funnel (as we just learned)
  2. To send content and product launches to my subscribers

I won’t go into the finer details of why this is all important here, but know this: 95% of sales come from English learners who are on my email list.

Here is how to get started with email.

5: Use social media in the right way

Social media has changed everything. You already know that.

But for independent teachers, it means that we reach English learners through content that we create. For free.

Social media can be overwhelming. What’s more, online platforms are noisy places. That’s why, when we’re clear on our niche, we can cut through the noise and resonate with the type of learners we want to teach.

Additionally, use sites that you enjoy using. There is no need to join them all. In fact, if you do, then you’ll spread yourself too thin.

Finally, make content that is natural to the platform. Go to minute 3:05 in the video below to learn what this means:

6: Focus on what you do best and what you enjoy

When building an online English teaching business, you might get overwhelmed with all the different ways you can market your lessons.

For example, you’ll hear people say that you need to blog, start a podcast, join every social media channel, make videos for YouTube etc.

You don’t.

Go with what you enjoy doing and focus on that right now. For example, I have a Twitter account, but I never use it. If I spent time using it, it would work for me. But I prefer to spend my time making videos and writing blog posts.

7: Connect with your learners

creating-videos-teaching-english-online

Even if it’s just one, get a video on your site

Going back to your website, make a connection with your learners.

The best way to do this is through video. Your potential students want to know who you and see you in action.

It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get something up there. A simple one-minute welcome video on your homepage can make a huge difference.

If you’re apprehensive about putting yourself out there, read this.

And if you want to learn how to create videos read this.

8: Get teaching as soon as possible

Maybe you have years of teaching experience. Maybe you have never taught before.

Either way, get teaching online as soon as possible. Make this a priority.

The earlier you get started, the better. A lot of learners are looking for conversational lessons and error feedback. This is something you can offer right now. And if you decide to take formal training, you’ll have context for the theory.

If you’re an established English teacher, get used to teaching one-to-one online using the tools available. Ask a current student if they want to jump online with you and take things from there.

9: Always be improving

This goes for teaching and marketing.

With teaching, take relevant courses, read blogs, read books, watch videos, get feedback from your learners and other students, and review your own lessons.

With the business side of things, learn how to market your online lessons, take action, and then refine.

A benefit of digital marketing is that you get constant feedback on what works and what doesn’t. For example, if you advertise on Facebook or Google, it tells you how many people clicked on your ad and, if you set it up correctly, how many people converted.

If you don’t get the results you want at the first time of asking, make changes. For example, ask yourself how you can improve your ad headline, image, text etc., how you can the page people go to when they click the ad, and how you can improve the sales process.

Don’t say, “This doesn’t work.” Say, “What do I need to change to make this work?”

10: Set a deadline for when you want to do this full-time

deadline-picture-for-teach-online

Set goals with deadlines

If you’re serious about moving online, set a deadline.

Say, “Six months from today, I will be teaching English full-time online.”

Without a deadline, you will keep putting things off. You won’t make it a priority in your life. Don’t do this someday – have a specific date in mind.

With this date, you can then set yourself mini-deadlines. These might include:

11: Know that you will need to hustle to get learners at first

Earlier, you learned that learners click the link at the end of my YouTube video to download my book. From there, they go through a specific sales process.

This all happens on autopilot.

Thousands of learners watch my videos every day. Hundreds download my book each week. But it took me a while to get to this stage.

Making videos on YouTube is a great example of what I call a long-term marketing method. You won’t get results in the first few weeks or maybe months, but once things start gaining momentum, you will attract learners passively over time.

At the beginning, however, you will need to hustle to get learners.

Get that email list set up and then:

  • help learners on a one-to-one basis in groups on social media and include a CTA
  • get in touch with old students or anyone you know who would benefit from your lessons
  • post on relevant websites offering your services

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But know that you will have to work at this to make it effective.

12: Don’t worry about getting your pricing right straight away

pricing-online-lessons-teaching

Don’t get stuck when pricing your lessons

“How much should I charge for my lessons?”

Many teachers get stuck here. But let me take the pressure away…

… you can be flexible with your pricing. What I mean by this is that you can:

  • increase your prices
  • offer different prices for different learners
  • offer discounts

In 2014, I doubled the price of lessons for new students. I had a high demand for lessons at the time and the price increase didn’t affect my schedule. In fact, charging higher prices is a way to attract learners who buy based on value rather than cost.

If you are flexible with your pricing, don’t include numbers on your website.

As for what type of salary you can expect from teaching English online, this varies greatly. But know that you can scale this to wherever you want to take it (more on this soon).

13: Don’t worry about bad apples

A big concern for new online teachers is not getting paid for their lessons – that a learner will take a lesson and then disappear without paying.

Always ask for payment up front and explain to your learner that their lesson is only reserved once you receive payment.

You’ll get learners that request a trial and don’t show. And learners who come to your trial lesson without any intention of paying for future lessons.

This makes you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of. Here is what to do:

  • see if there is anything that you can learn from this experience and make relevant changes
  • forget about it and concentrate on the bigger picture

Certain learners will try and get as much free help as possible. How you respond to this depends on you. I talk more about free vs paid lessons here.

The key is to not let it affect you.

Here is a video that talks about this in-depth:

14: Make connections

In 2013, I made it a priority to connect with as many teachers as I could.

When I was starting out, I saw other online teachers as competition. But one day, I got on Skype with a fellow teacher and we talked about what was working for us and what we were struggling with. From then, I made it a priority to connect with as many teachers as I could.

Connecting with other teachers helps you in several ways:

  • you can learn from others and get support from those who have been there and done it
  • it helps online teaching feel less isolating
  • you get your name out there and your content shared widely

There are countless groups on Facebook to join. Just make relevant searches, join them, and get involved.

15. Save time by using ready-made lesson plans (and get organized!)

A common question I receive is this, “What lessons plans can I use in my online lessons?”

What resources you use depends on your niche. If you’re teaching IELTS preparation for example, then you’ll need materials specific to this.

For general conversational lessons, there is so much out there. For example, Film English has lesson plans based on short films. Breaking News English has in-depth resources based on latest news. Do a search for ESL Ted Talks and you’ll find countless plans. And if you want ready-made lessons that are interactive, check out Off2Class.

Over time, you’ll build up your own library of resources. Use Evernote to help you organize them.

16. Know that there are many ways to earn

Teaching English online isn’t just about one-to-one lessons. You can also:

Over the long-term, most teachers look for ways to earn more of a passive income. This has been my experience too.

It’s worth thinking about what you want to create over the long-term so that you can the necessary steps now to achieve those goals.

BONUS: Take action and get started as early as possible

Earlier, we talked about the different ways to make this transition.

No matter when you want to make this your full-time thing, start today.

Look at your goals (and your deadline for achieving this!) and then be smart about what you should focus on right now. For example, if you want to build for the future, start growing a following by email and social media.

Put stuff out there, learn, and make changes.

Online teaching has changed my life. I am in control of how I teach, when I teach, where I teach, and my future earnings.

Sign up below to learn how you can do this too.

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Teaching Online

Tips and Resources to Help You Bring Learners into Your Lessons and Courses

Recently, I’ve been going live on Facebook 2-3 times per week to share information on how to better market your lessons and courses.

As a side note, if you’re struggling to make videos, consider going live.

There’s something different about pressing “go live now” instead of recording a video and then uploading it. For me, it brings out a different style of presenting. It also helps me get something out there. I highly recommend you try it.

Anyway, back to the video….

… in this lesson, I go through various tips and strategies that will help you better promote yourself as an online teacher. I talk about affiliate programs, checkout software, focusing in on your niche, creating micro-content, and other useful tidbits.

Useful notes below.

Producing Micro-Content

A TEOC member asked if it’s necessary to create new blog posts frequently in order to attract learners.

My answer?

No, it’s not necessary. What you can do instead is this:

  • Create micro-content on social media sites
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA) at the beginning and end.

The old way of writing an article and posting links on social media isn’t exactly dead, but it’s not as effective as it used to be.

Facebook and other social sites want you to create native content. They want you to upload videos to their platform.

Users want this too. Think about how much more likely you are to watch a video on Facebook rather than click a YouTube link.

Use this to your advantage by creating micro-content on these platforms. And remember to include a relevant CTA.

(Learn how to use email with any CTA you have)

Over the long-term, you’ll most likely want to include blog posts too. This way, you will be found by Google. But as I say here, this takes time.

New Checkout Software, Getting Help From My Wife, and My New Affiliate Program

I’ve had a couple of problems recently with people trying to register for my course.

This was an old problem that I thought had gone away.

Certain people were getting a timeout message when they submitted their order. They couldn’t register and I was missing out on new members. I tried to talk with my hosting account, software people, and hosting service, but they couldn’t pinpoint the problem.

On a related note, I also wanted to add an affiliate program for my courses.

I tried one piece of software, but it was a nightmare to set up. The support was decent, but it was overly complex and confusing.

My wife knew I was struggling with these problems (I was sighing a lot, apparently) and asked what was wrong.

I told her about it and said that there is this software that, although expensive, looks like it could solve everything.

She told me to go for it.

So, I did.

It took a couple of hours to set everything up. I’m very pleased with the initial experience and now I have an affiliate program.

There are two main takeaways here:

  • If you are currently stuck with something, talk it through with someone. Although my wife told me what to do, just talking it over with her made me realize what I needed to do
  • Investing in the right products, services, and people helps you grow faster and makes life easier. Don’t put this off.

As for my affiliate program, get in contact if you would like to join.

A New Success Story and Lessons About Niches

A couple of days ago, I got an email that made my day.

It was from a teacher who had gone through my course and had something exciting to share. Here is part of what she said:

“The course has focussed me on finding a niche, and as a result I have hit some important financial and personal milestones.

I come from an RAF family – my father was one of the first six link instructors in the UK – and as a journalist I specialised in writing about flight simulation. Also, I am an Accelerated Learning trainer, a Master NLP Coach, an Advanced Reading Instructor and CELTA qualified. When I started putting all these skills together to teach a senior airline pilot, we struck gold.

He was the only one of 100 pilots tested last month to be given level 6 in his aviation English exam (EALTS). I also helped him secure his dream job for a Saudi Airline on an amazing package. He is championing me to colleagues with similar aspirations, and so now I am teaching a handful of pilots, all by referral. I couldn’t be happier about this.”

Ingrid focused on what she was specialized in and brought all this together. This focus on what she does best resulted in one of her clients fulfilling his dream. When this happens, you’re going to get referrals.

If you’re struggling to resonate with learners, think about what your strengths are and what interests you, and then find ways to create lessons and teach those who you are going to best connect with.

New Video Training

Last week, I put together a new video training series.

I highly recommend you go through it. It might be exactly what you need to get your teaching business off the ground.

Click here to get instant access to the videos.

Over to You

Please share any thoughts you have in the comment section below.

Oh, and if you have a lesson plan that you want to share with the world, get in touch here.

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Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The Three Biggest Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The following is a guest post by Ryan Viguerie. Take it away Ryan…

“So why did you choose me?”

Every student who walks through my door for the first time hears this question.

I’ve been a private teacher for about eight years so I’ve heard a lot of different reasons.

Usually – not always, but usually – it’s because of a problem with their previous teacher.

You see, I’m not the cheapest teacher in Prague.

Which also means I’m usually not their first choice.

But when cheaper doesn’t work out, they come to me, and then I hear their complaints.

And these are the biggest – the ones I hear over and over again.

Learn from other teachers’ mistakes, make your students happy, and keep the cash rolling in.

COMPLAINT #1 – “We just talked”

Students tell me all the time, “I just need to talk more.”

But then they complain about their former teacher and say, “All we did was talk.”

What’s going on?

I think the problem is what they want to do is talk, but what they want to pay for is lessons.

It probably feels weird to describe the highlights of last night’s hockey match, evaluate the physical merits of the new secretary, complain about your lazy kids…and then hand over some cash for what felt like an hour chatting with a friend.

SOLUTION: Show Them The Plan

Before the student has bought any lessons, and we’re talking and having coffee for the first time, I pull out a piece of paper that says “Lesson Structure.”

I explain that this is the structure I follow in my lessons.

It’s nothing fancy or groundbreaking, but it communicates right away “I have a plan. I know what I’m doing. You’re paying for more than just conversation.”

Here’s what it looks like. Feel free to rip it off or adapt it to your style.

Minutes

1-5 warm up – easy conversation

1-5 review vocabulary from previous lessons

30-40 discuss article/video/topic of the day

5-10 record and discuss new vocab

1-3 plan for the next lesson

It’s a balance.

You’ve got to give them what they want, but wrap it in something they feel good paying for.

COMPLAINT #2 – DEAD GRANDMOTHERS

One of my students likes to tell the story of a former teacher who often cancelled lessons at the last minute.

After a while, the teacher began to run out of reasons, so he started to use the dead grandmother excuse.

Then he started to run out of grandmothers. But that didn’t stop him, he just kept going…and so did the dead grandmothers.

Other variations of this guy are the teacher who –

  • Is chronically late
  • Cancels often
  • Shows up hung over
  • Walks into a high-priced law firm wearing ripped jeans and dirty sneakers
  • Sits down and asks, “So what do you want to do today?”
  • Hits on his female students and makes them feel uncomfortable

SOLUTION 1 – Upgrade Your Wardrobe

If you look like a teacher…if you look successful…if you look like you’ve got your life together…it’ll carry a lot of weight.

Be a disheveled poet, rocker, cool guy in your free time. But when it comes time to pay the bills, leave the house in your ironed shirt and expensive shoes.

SOLUTION 2 – Teach From A Base

Being two minutes late is one of my bad habits.

But that suddenly came to a stop when I started teaching from my apartment.

I discovered it’s incredibly hard to be late when you’re already there.

But if you live in a haunted house or your pet iguana doesn’t like meeting new people, you could set up base in a coffee shop. Get an account at calendly.com and mark the same chunks of time every week as ‘available.’ 

COMPLAINT #3: “Neverending Story”

For some reason, my Czech students have taken the title from this 80s fantasy movie (and incredibly cheesy music video) to describe their main frustration with English: slow or no progress.

Here’s a better analogy from “How To Learn A Foreign Language” by Paul Pimsleur:

“Learning a foreign language is like filling a bucket from a slow-running tap. If you keep looking in to see if it is full, you grow more and more impatient. You may finally kick it over and walk away. But if the bucket has notches that show when it is one-quarter full, one-third full, and so on, then you can take pleasure in watching the water rise from notch to notch. The filling time is the same, but the psychological effect is different.”

So how do you put notches on the English bucket?

SOLUTION – A Vocab Notebook

As soon as a student agrees to buy one of my lesson packages, I tell him, “Your first homework assignment is to buy a notebook.”

Then every lesson I make him write down the new words.

Soon he’ll have pages and pages of visible proof of what he didn’t know before he met me.

About Ryan

Ryan is from the US but has lived in Prague since 2004.

In addition to teaching, he also runs the website Teacher-Creature.com

If you think there’s a need for a similar site in your city and if you’d like to be one of the first teachers on the site, you can write Ryan at office@teacher-creature.com.

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2015 Review

2015 in Review – And What I’m Going to Do in 2016

What an amazing year!

If you read on, you’re going to hear all about it…

… because this post will look back at 2015 – what went well and what didn’t – and look forward to 2016.

I do this to see what I have done over the past year and to set new goals for the upcoming year. And you will (hopefully!) get something from this lengthy post too.

To give you some context, here’s a quick recap of my story:

  • In January 2011, I started working full-time on my business, teaching one-to-one English lessons online.
  • In May 2013, I started this blog.
  • In April 2014, I started making video courses for English learners.
  • In August 2014, I released TEOC.
  • And in November 2014, I released The To Fluency Program and rebranded my site for English learners.

In my last review, I wrote down my goals for 2015. Those were:

  • To build bigger and better audiences.
  • To post content on a schedule.
  • To keep building and growing my courses.
  • To automate and outsource.
  • To find a routine.

One thing that I’ve learned is that publically stating what my goals makes me accountable. I also have them written down in various places and remind myself of what I want to achieve and why. This keeps me focused on what matters on a daily basis.

If you’re looking to make the transition into online teaching – or if you are already teaching online – I recommend you go through this process too.

In fact, I’ve created a guide and worksheetto help you with this. It’s a 5-step plan for achieving your goals in 2016. And it’s free…

Click here to download now

2015 in Review (What I’ve Done)

2014 was all about trying new things.

I started giving group lessons, created a course for English learners on WizIQ, launched TEOC, and then launched The To Fluency Program.

Last year, I focused on improving these programs and improving my marketing funnel. Doubling down on what I had already built.

However, there was one big change…

Rebranding (To Fluency) and Starting Again on YouTube

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.34.15 PM

Because I rebranded my site for learners, I had to start all over again on YouTube.

Video was at the center of nearly all my content in 2015. I published nearly 100 videos on the TF channel. Subscribers have gone from 0 to 4,000. Total views are now over 150,000. Over 1,000 people have subscribed to my email list directly from YouTube. Not a bad first year.

Halfway through the year, I made a big change: I started uploading videos straight to Facebook. Facebook is a big player in video content now, and they prioritize native video (video uploaded to Facebook) over YouTube links. Users prefer watching a video on Facebook instead of having to go off the site/app.

This means that I am now essentially building an audience through video on both these platforms. Although this means that my YouTube audience isn’t as big as it could be, I prefer it as I can potentially reach more people. It doesn’t affect what I want to focus on: building my audience…

Building a Bigger and Better Audience

This was one of my goals for last year. And the years before that. My main focus is to grow my email list (as stated numerous times on this blog), but also build on other platforms (like YouTube and Facebook).

I’ve done well in this area for both my teaching site and my English-learning site. Email sign-up rates are increasing all the time. My new book for English learners has proved to be very popular (this is free to download, more on this later). And because my audience is increasing elsewhere, more people are joining the email list.

But it’s not just about the number of people. It’s also about the quality of people and what you do with your email list.

If those on your list never have the intention of buying what you offer, you don’t have a business. And if you don’t work your list in the right way, people won’t pay attention. This is the same for social media.

This year, I have been far more active with email. I put people through a welcoming series of emails (automated) that differs depending on what they download. During this automated series, I ask many questions and respond to every email I get.

I have moved email service providers too. Email marketing can get very sophisticated, and because I have two products that are selling well, I can maximize conversions using this new software. I will have a post on this coming in the early part of this year.

New eBook and Audiobook

5SP Premium - Rezied

I wrote a new book this year.

It’s a quick read but it’s proven to be very popular. The book can be downloaded for free, but there is the option to purchase the premium version for $7. This includes the audiobook, a couple of PDF reports, and two video lessons.

This alone isn’t going to make a lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been very pleased with the sales from this.

But the $7 purchase does three things:

  • It shows the value that I can offer in my course – building up desire
  • It makes the first transaction easier (just $7 instead of the $250 for the course).
  • It’s easier to sell to current customers than new ones.

15% of those who buy the audiobook have gone on to take my course. I’m very happy with this figure.

I’ve run experiments advertising the book on Facebook. Sales for the premium version covered the costs – the profit comes from the upsell. I am going to optimize the sales funnel for this and advertise again in early in January.

I’ve Grown My Courses

TEOC

In 2015, I added a lot to both courses. New videos, tutorials, worksheets.

Sales have been great (I hit my goal of making six figures in sales) and I’m getting great feedback and seeing inspiring results.

A big reason for my sales numbers has been down to…

Automation and Scaling Systems

I’m really pleased about this area.

I have automated a lot of what I do and I have started to scale what’s working.

You see, once you have a system that works – I’m talking about a product/lessons and sales funnel – the next stage is to scale it. As I mentioned before, I’ve experimented doing this through Facebook Ads and I’ve reached the stage where I’m getting a great return on this advertising spend.

I did a couple of presentations in 2015 where I said that “Online teachers don’t have a traffic problem, they have a conversion problem.” What I mean is: once you have a sales funnel that works, you can buy traffic.

That’s why your marketing system is vital, whether you offer one-to-one lessons, books, courses, or anything else.

To help me get this point across, I ran a test with an opt-in page for my free book. I changed the headline and nothing else. This roughly doubled conversions.

All things being equal, this one change should have doubled sales.

Always be testing and experimenting. There is always room for improvement.

Content Schedule

My goal was to post articles and videos on a regular basis. For this blog, I posted once a week – taking a couple of breaks of 2-3 weeks. For English learners, I’ve made roughly two videos per week.

This is more than double what I produced in 2014.

For the first three months, I am going to cut back on this slightly, but with something else in mind (see my plan below).

Things I Have Struggled With

My Routine

The biggest struggle for me this year has been trying to get things done on my limited routine. A little context: my wife started teaching at middle school in January. She has to get up at 5:45 AM. On most days, my son wakes up at the same time. Therefore, I have my son from 5:45 AM until I drop him off at daycare at 9:00 AM.

Sometimes – like this morning when he refused to put on clothes for 20 minutes! – I feel exhausted when I come back home to work. I also pick him up at 4:00-4:30 PM and have him for an hour before cooking dinner. This means that my working day is around 6 hours on a good day. I get about four hours in over the weekend. I would LOVE more time, but this is my situation right now.

One benefit of this is that I have a clear separation of work and family time. And because I have limited time, I am focused and get things done. Spending as much time as I do with my son is a blessing.

I have managed to change my routine slightly this week, but I still have limited time to work.

Little Problems

The bigger you grow things, the more problems you face.

My checkout page wasn’t working properly for a couple of months; I’ve received some nasty emails from people who wanted a refund after the deadline is over; there have been countless small things that have gone wrong.

Sometimes, I let these issues affect my mood. Even though I have a very low refund request rate, when someone does ask for a refund, it can affect me. This is the rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur.

However, I know I can do better. I shouldn’t let the small things affect me and just roll with the punches. To be honest, I have done a lot better in this area over the past few months. For example, there was one person who was, well, being a HUGE pain. I decided not to waste time and energy on this situation. Additionally, I’ve had a few trolls this year and they haven’t affected me one bit.

Having problems like this comes with the territory. One change I made was to set up systems so that I deal with things like this at a certain time. This means that a snarky email won’t interrupt an article I am working on.

Hiring

I made a video on this recently. I want – actually, need – to bring others in.

I have made some progress on this, but not enough. I’m stuck between bringing someone in who can do a lot of things and outsourcing certain tasks to specific people.

This has risen to the top of my list in the new year.

Personal Development

My limited schedule has meant that I haven’t taken as many courses / read as many books as I would have liked. This is an important area, summed up perfectly by Jim Rohn: “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.”

I feel guilty if I spend part of my day reading or taking a course. This is because it’s taking time away from producing something. However, learning is important if I want to keep growing.

Prioritizing health is also important. When I feel energized, I feel enthusiastic. And enthusiasm is contagious. When I give lessons that are full of energy, my learners respond. I’ve done well in this area, but still want to improve upon it.

Things I Have Learned

Here are a few things that I have learned or have been reinforced in 2015.

  • Spend 80% of time maximizing and scaling what’s working and 20% on new projects.
  • Most online teachers don’t have a traffic problem; they have a conversion problem. Traffic can be bought once a system works.
  • Use social media site natively.
  • Momentum is vital. The first stages are like pushing a rock up a hill. It takes hustle to get things moving. That’s why consistency is key.
  • Once you have momentum, you’ll see the compound effect come into play.
  • Sticking to your values and being honest means you will win over the long-term.
  • You have to enjoy what you do.
  • Working for yourself allows you to grow as a teacher, a marketer, and a person.

Goals for 2016

Here is what I want to achieve in 2016:

  1. Double course sales
  2. Build a team
  3. Grow my email list by 500%

These are big goals but ones that I’m confident of hitting.

At this stage, I don’t have a full year plan for how I am going to achieve these goals. However, I have a plan for the first three months. I will reassess based on where I am at the end of the first quarter.

My projects for the first three months include:

  1. Close enrollment for TFP and then open it again / launch a new course for learners. (This is an experiment to see if opening and closing enrollment for my course is more optimal compared to having it open year-round.)
  2. Outsource tasks that I’ve wanted to outsource for some time.
  3. Fine-tune my current advertising campaigns.
  4. Create high-quality and shareable content. (For the last few months of 2015, I was posting three videos per week for English learners. I’m going to reduce this to two, but create videos that are longer – and a little different to what I have been doing.)

On a personal note, I am making health and fitness a priority this year.

Like I said before, when I eat healthily, exercise, and meditate, I feel energized and enthusiastic about work. I did quite well in 2015, but I wasn’t consistent. I am strategizing on ways to be consistent through the entire year.

(One way I’m doing this is going to the gym with my wife and son. We get to exercise and my son has a lot of fun in the play area. And, as a bonus, I am going to listen to audiobooks / podcasts while I exercise. Birds and stones.)

Most Popular Posts of 2015

Lesson Plan Christmas Shelby

  1. Christmas Lesson Plan (Guest Post by Shelby Fox)
  2. Interview with Teacher Diane
  3. Using Google Drive to Collaborate with Learners

Have a lesson plan that you want to share?

Click here and send me your outline.

Over to You

If you got this far, thank you for reading!

I also want to thank you for being part of this blog. I’m very grateful to have you here.

Now it’s your turn. How was your 2015 and what are your goals for 2016?

Leave your comments below!

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