ESLHIPHOP Guest Post

Three Ways to Use Hip Hop in Your Next English Lesson

ESLHIPHOP Guest Post

I love featuring teachers who are doing their own thing online, giving others an opportunity to share their story and and their ideas, inspiring us all as we strive to succeed.

Today I bring you Stephen Mayeux from ESLhiphop. I’ve known Steve for around a year now, and in that time we have connected on a monthly basis to share what we are working on and to help each other to grow and reach our respective goals.

Stephen is the perfect example of someone who knows the important of choosing a specific niche; he has built his teaching around this niche, using his enthusiasm, creativity, and love of what he is doing to help English learners improve.

It brings me great pleasure to introduce you all to Stephen. He has three very creative teaching ideas that all involve an online tool called Rap Stats. Take it away Stephen!

Three ELT Activities Using Rap Stats

Yo! I’m Stephen “Big Nasty” Mayeux, and I am in the house, or rather, on the homepage to spit some knowledge! Jack and I are very good friends, and he has been a supporter of ESLhiphop from the very beginning. Since I started that blog a year ago, there have been other exciting developments in hip-hop education which have legitimized the genre more and more for instructional purposes.

In 2013, GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan teamed up with a professor from Columbia University’s Teachers College to create Science Genius, an initiative to promote science education by having New York City students write science-themed rap songs. And earlier this year, data scientist Matt Daniels analyzed rap lyrics and classic literature and discovered that several contemporary hip-hop artists have better vocabulary than Shakespeare or Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Now there’s another innovation in hip-hop education (ooh, I rhymed!) from the makers of Rap Genius, an online community that annotates rap songs. Rap Stats is an online tool that plots the frequency of words appearing in hip-hop lyrics from 1998 to present, and it’s also free to use and very addicting to language nerds! Simply enter one or more words and phrases in the search box, and Rap Stats will generate a color-coded line graph.

In this post, I am going to share three ideas for using Rap Stats to practice English. If you’re in a brick-and-mortar school, your classroom will need to have Internet access in order to use any of these activities. Other than that, everything that I am going to suggest requires very little preparation.

#1 — IELTS Writing Classes

In the Academic module of the IELTS, test takers must analyze and interpret a graph, diagram, or process and describe it in about 300 words. There are dozens of test-preparation books and even more free websites with sample writing prompts, but why not spice it up and make writing more fun? ETS (Education Testing Services) probably has no plans to include Rap Stats in the newest version of their exam, but your students can still have very useful writing practice by responding to frequency analysis reports. You could use the sample graph below in order to practice the language needed to:

  • make implications
  • describe positive and negative correlations
  • highlight trends over a period of time
  • predict future usage

 

Rap Stats Teaching English

#2 — Dictogloss <> Illustrate <> Check

This activity is similar to the one above, but the procedures have simply been reversed. (Secret ELT Trick: If you ever run out of ideas, just think of everything you’ve tried before and do it backwards!) Instead of producing text after seeing a graph, students will produce a graph after listening to and writing about the data. This is how I would set up and run the activity:

  1. Create a Rap Stats graph ahead of time and describe it to your students. You can either write a short paragraph before your lesson or just describe it on the fly. Whatever you decide to do, don’t let your students see the graph yet.
  2. As in a typical dictogloss activity, students must listen without taking any notes and then reconstruct your description in a short paragraph. Students can work either individually or in small groups.
  3. Students then produce graphs based on their own writing or from another group.
  4. Display the graph that was described in step 1 and have students compare their work to the original.

#3 — Discovering Recent and Outdated Slang

A few months ago, Business Insider ran a story on my blog, and one commenter wondered if listening to hip-hop would only introduce obscure and outdated slang words and idioms making English learners sound unusual. It’s a legitimate point to bring up, and it’s the basis behind this next activity aimed at helping students acquire recent slang words and avoid using ones that have died out.

  1. Create a list of slang words and idioms before the lesson begins. Have students decide which words are still used today and which ones are outdated and irrelevant.
  2. Have students group the words in a number of different categories. For example, you might have students group the words by part of speech.
  3. Students use Rap Stats themselves and run analysis reports on the list. In small groups, students examine the data together and determine which words and phrases are still used today.
  4. Review the words as a whole class, and then follow up with a speaking or listening activity.

Your Turn

I hope this blog post was helpful and interesting. Try it out with your students and let me know how it goes in the comments below. If you use Rap Stats in other ways, then I would love to hear about it. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, and tell me all about it!

This guest blog article was written by Stephen Mayeux, the founder of ESLhiphop.com. He teaches private English classes on Skype. He’s also a worldwide ambassador of peace, love, and hip-hop for Gallery Languages.

Peace, love, and hip-hop

Big Nasty Steve

—-

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Teaching Update 2014

My 2014 Goal Update + 80/20, Batching, and Focus

Teaching Update 2014

In January, I wrote a post looking back on 2013 and also talked about my English teaching goals for 2014. Writing down this helped me process what I wanted to achieve and created some accountability. I also hoped that it would inspire others to get into the world of online teaching.

In the post, I stated that I wanted to focus my creative efforts on podcasting, videos, and building my email list. In addition, I talked about starting group lessons and creating a teaching guide. Here is my progress with this so far:

2014 Goal Updates

Please note that all but one of my goals below are related to English teaching.

Building My Email List

I’ve made a big effort to increase my email list numbers this year. The results have been incredible (a 1000% increase in subscribers). The main reason for this increase was because I started giving things away for free.

I wrote a 16 page book/guide called, “The Five Keys to Becoming Fluent in English.” This turned out to be really popular and was shared extensively by those who read it. In addition to this book, I’ve also given webinars that have proven to be really popular too, and when someone signs up, they get added to my list. I love the excitement of a live event with 200/300+ people watching, and it is great to help so many people at the same time.

Having this list has meant that I can directly reach my followers (and potential students), and this way of communication is much more effective than social media.

(Note: Subscriber numbers are not the be all and end all. A community needs to be served, and to do this you have to continually send quality content. This is true for your emails and what you have on your website.)

(Here is a guide on how to start your own email list)

Group Lessons and Courses

I started group conversational lessons in March and love these types of lessons. I have 2-4 students in a group and we discuss a video/article that I send to them before the class. It works well for students who want structured speaking practice but can’t afford the one-to-one lessons.

Getting students for group lessons has proved more challenging than one-to-one. The main reason for this is that people want to learn at different times. But as my community grows, I will be able to do more of these lessons.

I also started another course in May on WizIQ. There were a total of five live presentations along with other learning materials and assignments. The course went really well: I managed to get 28 learners to sign up and the feedback I got was very encouraging.

I’m doing the same course again this week, and then maybe a couple more times this year. The biggest problem with getting learners to sign up is the timing of the lessons; even though the lessons are recorded, most students want to be able to take them live and interact with me and fellow learners.

I plan on taking the content of this course and putting it into a video course. This will also make it easier for me, as once I have got the content recorded, my only role in this is to market the course, interact with the learners, and keep things ticking along.

Other Products

I’ve also experimented with different products and services. I created a guide for IELTS learners that helps them with their writing and ran an advertising experiment using Facebook Ads. I managed to get five sales, with four out of those five going on to buy another product or service.

The next step is to improve the product (adding a premium package) and go through the sales page and marketing plan to improve it. Once I have done that I’m going to start promoting it again. I’ve got ideas for other products too and will most likely release these in a few months.

Podcast and Videos

I enjoy making videos but they take a lot of energy and time to produce. I was making long videos that were quite creative and I found it quite draining. I decided to take a break from video production to focus on other areas, and I will look at doing them again in the future once I have a system in place and a specific type of video format in mind.

I want to be able to fire out as many quality videos as possible without taking too much time. Therefore, I’m going to brainstorm ideas and start producing again once I have a good system in place.

As for the podcast, I am getting closer and closer to the recording stage. I’ve thought long and hard about what I want my podcast to be about and how it can fit into the overall picture. I was initially going to include my wife in the podcast and create conversational audio. However, we are currently finding it hard to get an hour or so to sit down and record (the nine-month old is the main barrier to this!).

So I have decided to go ahead and make a podcast that focuses on the mentality and methods for English learners who want to reach a high level. I’ve written the plan and a list of episodes, and I’m going to throw myself into this project in this fall (after 3 1/2 years of living in America, I’ve started saying fall instead of autumn. And although I thought it would never happen, I find myself saying soccer instead of football!).

A Teaching Online Guide

My guide on how to teach English (or any language) online will be ready in July/August/September. It is going to be a video course that comes with other learning materials and will cover all aspects of online teaching (focusing on one-to-one lessons, but also including group lessons and course creation), including: setting up, website design, platforms, finding niches, marketing, branding, and much more.

(if you’re not already in my community, click here to join my mail list and to receive updates about this course.)

Things I’ve Learned

During the first part of this year I have also invested a lot of time and energy into my own development. I’ve taken various marketing courses, read many self-development and teaching books, and I have become very commitment to what I want to achieve long-term.

One thing that I noticed was that earlier this year I was spreading myself too thin. I was taking on all types of projects, starting new ones all the time, and didn’t have a clear plan of action.

To overcome this I decided to leave a few projects aside and concentrate on only one or two at one time while setting up systems for everything else. The course that I gave on WizIQ is a good example of that: I put a lot of time and effort into it in April and May, and now I have the course written and I have a marketing plan in place, I can now spend most of my energy on other projects.

I’m also batching my work. Batching is when you dedicate blocks of time to work on similar tasks. For example, I generally reply to emails during a 20 minute window in the morning, create the plans for my lessons on a Friday/Monday, and take my one-to-one lessons at one part of the day (between 12 and four). I’ve found this helped me focus, and made me more productive and creative.

And finally, I now do a 80/20 analysis once every two months. The 80/20 rule (or Pareto principle) states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. Relating this to marketing, for example, we can say that 80% of sales come from 20% of marketing efforts. This is one of the reasons why I slowed down my video production and put my focus on building my email list. I also explain this rule to English learners in my courses and lessons so that they understand how important it is to concentrate on doing things that actually make a difference to their progress.

Over to You

If you are doing your own thing too, let me know what you’re working on at the moment. And if you are someone who would like to teach online, tell me what you are currently doing to get started.

Thanks for reading!

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Best Platforms for Teaching Online

Want to Teach Online? Here Are Four Platforms that You Can Use

In my last post, I talked about how to use Google Hangouts on Air to teach live language lessons to an unlimited amount of people.

Since then, I have received a lot of questions from people in my community about what platform is best to use when teaching one-to-one or small group lessons.

Most people start using Skype, and when I first started, this was the only real platform that was available. But, over the past few years many more platforms have been introduced, and recently I’ve been using Google Hangouts, Zoom, and WizIQ.

In this post I’m going to go through the four options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s start with the most popular: Skype.

Skype

Skype Logo

Skype is the most used option when it comes to facilitating one-to-one lessons, and is actually the main advantage of using Skype as most of your potential students will either have it or will have heard of it. There are two versions: free and premium.

With the free version you can:

– Call anyone who as a Skype account.
– Send instant and video messages.
– Take part in group calls (only using two webcams).

To get group video calls and screen sharing you will need to upgrade to the premium service ($9.99 per month).

I’ve been using Skype for years now, and it’s only been the last couple of months that it’s started to freeze, crash, and have other problems. I still use it for my long-term students, but I’m starting to teach new students on other platforms due to the technical problems, and also because it is a little limited.

The quality of the calls is good on the whole, and from experience, it compares with Google Hangouts. I feel the main reason to use Skype is because it’s the most used application out of the three, and many teachers have actually built their brand around it.

Another advantage when using Skype is that it saves all your text chats; this gives you the ability to look at what you have done with students in the past, and also helps you when you’re trying to figure out who an old contact is.

However, to be able to share your screen you have to pay for the premium service. In addition, Skype doesn’t have the features that the other three have, and is pretty basic in this department; for example, to record the lessons you will need to use third party software.

Click here to learn more about Skype

Click here to watch my video on how to use it

(Update July 2014: Skype now includes free group calls and screen sharing)

Google Hangouts

Google Hangout Logo

Not to be confused with Google Hangouts on Air, Google Hangouts is similar to Skype, but is much more fun to use, has no premium version, and has many more features.

Here is what you can do with Google Hangouts (all for free):

– Call anyone with a Google account.
– Use your webcam for video calls.
– Chat using the chat box.
– Share your screen.
– Embed Youtube videos.
– Use a whiteboard (through an application called Cacoo).
– Record the hangout.
– And, you can have fun using Google effects

Google Hangouts Effects
Using the Google Hangout Effects

There are also different apps that you can install and use, with new ones being created all the time.

To start a Google Hangout you need to have a Google Plus account and you have to download the app before getting started.

What I like about Google Hangouts is that there is so much that you do for free, and I imagine that they are going to add more features all the time. The effects at the moment are just a bit of fun, but I hope they add the ability to upload your own backgrounds; this would make role-playing much more effective and engaging (by using backgrounds so that you can practice ordering from cafes, buying tickets, business meetings etc.).

Google Hangouts doesn’t save the chats from the hangouts (at least, I can’t find this option anywhere; they do save the chats that take place outside of the video hangout though).

One way to get around this is to do what my friend Beatriz over at www.nativespanishteacher.com does. She creates a Google document for each student and then opens this during the lesson. She makes notes and the student has the opportunity to add to the document too. It’s like live chatting but within a document, and the chats are automatically saved.

Having to be on Google + to use Hangouts may put some off, but the platform is becoming much more important in the social media market, and I predict this trend to continue.

Click here to find out more about Google Hangouts.

Zoom

Zoom Logo

I learned about Zoom from the guys over at Turks Learn English, and they use this platform for their group lessons. The biggest reason to use Zoom is due to the brilliant connection it offers. I’ve used this for some of my one-to-one and group lessons, and the connection has been much better for me than the connection offered by Skype and Google Hangouts.

With the free plan you can:

– Host HD video and audio lessons.
– Host group lessons (40 minute max).
– Share your screen.
– Embed videos (and play the audio from the video).
– Have private and group chats.
– Schedule and have recurring lessons.
– Kick people out of the meeting (great for lessons with children!).

To get unlimited time for the group lessons (and to get some other features) it costs $9.99 per month. It’s easy to sign up through Google or Facebook, and the application is very small in size and very fast. When you arrange meetings you have the option to make them recurring, and it automatically adds the meetings you arrange to your online calendar of choice.

Here is what the screen looks like after you have downloaded it:

Zoom Cloud Meeting Software

I love Zoom because of the connection; I haven’t had any problems with delay, echoes, or the other annoying audio problems that you sometimes get with Skype and Google Hangouts.

In addition, the free version is great and will give most people everything they need.

Click here to learn more about Zoom (affiliate link)

WizIQ

WizIQ Logo


I’m currently in the middle of teaching my first course on WizIQ, and I gave a couple of lessons as part of the ELT Techniques Course hosted by Jason R Levine in December. So far, I’ve been really impressed with this platform, especially when it comes to facilitating large groups.

Here is what you can do with WizIQ:

– Upload course content (PDFs, videos, power point slides, spreadsheets) so that only those in the course can access them.
– Give live lessons that are automatically recorded, and can be download.
– Give assignments within the course; your students can submit them, and then you can give feedback privately.
– Set multiple choice tests.

The live lessons that I’ve been giving have been in the format of presentations, but you can have up to 6 webcams in one lesson, and also create breakout rooms (where, for example, you pair off your students and they can talk with each other privately during the live class).

Here’s what the classroom looks like:

Wiz IQ Classroom

In the main area you can share your screen, upload presentations, videos etc., or use the whiteboard. On the right you can see the live chat with my face above that. Another feature that I like is the ability to create and publish polls during the class.

The plans start at $19 per month, and this presents great value if you are teaching large groups and/or you have a good schedule of smaller groups and one-to-one lessons. I can’t comment too much on the connection because I haven’t used it for video conferencing, but it has worked seamlessly for the presentation style course that I’m currently offering.

Click here to learn more about WizIQ

Which One to Choose?

If you’re just starting out and mainly teaching one-to-one, I would recommend going with one the free options. Most people turn to Skype first, but I think that Zoom and Google Hangouts have the best features, and in Zoom’s case, a much better connection. However, Skype does have the advantage of being the biggest name out of the fours options.

WizIQ is a great option for those who are at the stage where paying the $19 a month for extra features is good value, and especially if you have large groups.

My best advice is to try out the different options, choose one, and then start teaching. You can always change platforms, and even teach using a combination of two or more.

Over to You

Let me know which platform you prefer, whether I’ve missed anything, and if there are other options out there. Leave your comments below.

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Google Hangouts Post Artwork Featured

Using Google Hangouts on Air for Teaching English

Google Hangouts Post ArtworkI had my first experience using Google Hangouts on Air this week. I’m happy to say that it was successful both in terms of the presentation I gave and the technical side of things. I did A LOT of research and testing to ensure that everything went smoothly.

There are a lot of ways that you can mess things up as it’s not as intuitive as you would think. But, once you have done it once, you will be able to get things set up in minutes.

I’ve written this post to tell you about my experience, and also to give you step-by-step instructions so that you can do it too.

What is a Google Hangout on Air?

A Google Hangout on Air (HOA) lets you stream a video live on Youtube to an unlimited amount of people. Basically, it allows you to host your own webinar. It also records the live video and adds it to your Youtube channel.

It was perfect for what I wanted to do this week: host a free lesson/presentation on my website as a way to introduce a new course that I’m going to teach in April.

Google Hangouts on Air is free, easy to use once you know what to do, and allows you to embed the live video on your site. Here is what I did to get around 140 people watching my presentation live on my website.

Get learners to sign up

I created a squeeze page (a page where people can enter their email addresses to sign up) on my website. This is what it looked like:

Webinar Squeeze Page

When someone entered their details, they were automatically subscribed to my mailing list, and then received an automatic message about the lesson. Increasing my mailing list is a big goal of mine, so having people opt-in was really important. It also gave me the ability to remind everyone about the free lesson before it went live, and to send the recording of the lesson to those who missed it.

In total, I had over 1,000 people visit this page, and out of those, over 350 people signed up to the webinar. I’m going to look at ways to increase this conversion rate in the future.

Setting up the event

You need to have a Google Plus profile and a Youtube channel to be able to host a HOA. Setting both of those up is pretty easy to do, and if you need help with this stage, a quick Google search will give you what you need.

You also need to link your channel to your Google+ profile to host a HOA. Think about whether you want to host the hangout from your personal profile or a page that you manage. I hosted mine from my JDA English page.

Create a Hangout on Air, not a Hangout

This is probably the most confusing part. A lot of people have made this mistake (I nearly did too). Don’t create an event, but instead do the following:

Create a Hangout

Select the option below from the main menu on your Google Plus account.

Hanogut Screenshot

Click “Start a Hangout on Air

HAO Screenshot

Then you’ll see this

HAO Form

This is where you enter the details of your hangout. As you can see, there is the option to start it now or later. During my research I read that you couldn’t schedule a HOA for a later date; I guess this is a feature that they’ve just added. However, I decided to get everything set up an hour before my presentation so I selected “Now.”

The reason why you shouldn’t create an event (and choose the hangout option) is because there is a difference between a regular Hangout (where you can chat live with up to nine other people – perfect for one-to-one lessons and group lessons) and a HAO (where anyone with the link can watch your event live – for presentations and big live lessons).

When setting it up, I only shared it with myself (I didn’t make it public). This gave me time to get everything ready. Once you fill in the details of your HAO, you will see this screen.

The Event Page

HAO Event Screen

Your live event will be streamed on this page, on your Youtube channel, and you can also embed the video on your site. I didn’t make the event public because I wanted people watching on my website. More on this later.

You can add a trailer for the event, and there is also the option for people to ask you questions. See the blue start button in the bottom left hand corner? Click this to open up the hangout on air control room (this won’t automatically start the hangout).

The HAO Control Room

Once you click the blue start button, it will ask you if you would like to invite others (I skipped this step), and then you’ll see your lovely face staring back at you. What I did next was mute my microphone and turn off the camera. Here is what you’ll see:

Control Room

There is a big green button at the bottom; don’t click this until you’re ready to start your broadcast. I got to this stage about an hour before the lesson so that I had time to embed the video on my site.

Embed the stream on your site

You can do this before you start. All you need to do is to click “Links” in the bottom right hand corner and grab the code. I modified it a little by making the video a little bigger.

Check settings

As I use an external mic, I went into the settings to select the right one. Make sure that your webcam (if you’re going to show your face) is working correctly.

Screen share

I decided to do a presentation for my live event, and I created this in Google Drive. When creating your presentation, make sure that you use widescreen, and open up the presentation in a new window. Choose this screen to share. You can open up your teaching notes as these won’t be shown on the video. I more or less wrote my entire script in the teaching notes.

Start Broadcast

Once you have everything ready, start your broadcast. I did this about 15 minutes before the time of presentation without turning my microphone on. I wanted to make sure that it was working properly, and got feedback from those who came early.

When it was time to start the presentation, I turned my microphone on, asked for feedback to ensure that everyone could see and hear the video properly, and then began.

Live Chat on the Page

If you decide to have people come to your live event on Google Plus or Youtube, there is the option to leave comments. But, I wanted something a little more interactive. So, I embedded tlk.io next to the video on my website.

I came to the event about 30 minutes early to chat with others and to build the excitement.

Recording the event

Your HOA will be automatically recorded for you and uploaded to your Youtube page. The video will be unlisted, but you can make it public or private if you wish. Additionally, you don’t need a new embed code; it’s the same video link as the live video.

Because I went live before I started the presentation, I cut the video using the editor in Youtube so that it starts right when I start talking. I then sent out the link of the recording to everyone who signed up.

Going Forward and a Question for You

The whole experience was amazing, and I have to admit that I got a big buzz from doing a live online event. I’m glad that I tested it out first, but if you are going to run a test, I recommend setting up a test page and Youtube channel. One of my students told me that he was browsing through Youtube when he saw that my channel was live, and decided to watch my test. He only caught the end, and luckily missed the part where I was moaning at my wife because she wasn’t paying attention to the test stream!

I’m definitely going to do more of these live events and have other ideas for both this site and my teaching site. I want to do more lessons, live interviews, product launches, and spontaneous hangouts.

I’m also going to test making the hangout public on Google Plus (the step I skipped) as I’m sure that a lot of people would have signed up to this and shared my event. But, you do lose the ability to sign people up to your list.

I now have a question for you:

Are you thinking about using Google Hangouts on Air for your students? If so, what ideas do you have?

Leave your comments below. If you would like more information about setting up a squeeze page, marketing your live event, and setting up an email list, then send me a message.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

Well, hello there! I've been teaching online (independently) since 2011 and I'd LOVE to help you do this too. Curious about working from anywhere in the world and on your own terms? Just click the button below to get started!

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Drew Badger from English Anyone

Get Sold (Guest Post by Drew Badger from EnglishAnyone.com)

Drew Badger from English Anyone

When talking with Drew Badger, it is soon obvious just how knowledgeable he is about marketing.

He has built a successful online course that solves a big problem for English learners: becoming conversationally fluent. He also has a very successful Youtube channel with over 200 videos.

In this post he shares what he believes to be the most important skill in business. This is great stuff for anyone looking to get into the world of online teaching and product creation.

Take it away Drew!

Why Most Businesses Fail

Aspiring entrepreneurs usually fail because they build businesses backwards. They spend time coding websites, printing business cards, thinking up killer company names, designing products and a thousand other things that, while potentially helpful in the long term, just aren’t necessary when starting and proving a business.

Not all businesses need websites. Not all businesses need physical stores. What all of them do need, however, is paying customers. So why not focus all of your attention on getting those first?

Starting Backwards

I know the story of business failure intimately because I lived it when I first ventured online. I had this great idea for a book that could help Japanese children learn the alphabet in a few hours. I was convinced it was genius and spent the next year and a half designing the book, creating its illustrations, and even founding a company to get the book into online stores. In the end, I had a beautiful book available on Amazon.com, but very few sales.

The odd thing is that I thought this failure meant I was doing everything right. I was incredibly frustrated, but undeterred because I assumed I was supposed to fail many times before I found success. If I could just work harder and come up with a better idea, I believed, I’d eventually reach the Promised Land.

Follow (Only) the Leaders

It took another two years – and many more failures – before I finally questioned the assumptions of the path I was on and decided to do something different: follow only the advice of those who’d actually built successful businesses.

Money is a funny thing. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, so it’s easy to be lead astray by well-meaning individuals who’ve never built successful businesses. I know I certainly had been. It made perfect sense to visit a baker if I had questions about bread, or consult a doctor if I had concerns about health, but, until only recently, that same logic never transferred to the realm of things financial.

What I had begun to learn while studying great entrepreneurs was that the source of this disconnect in my brain was the mythology of business in popular culture. I take full responsibility for my failures, of course, but I was finally uncovering the foundation of the paradigm that stacked the odds of success heavily against me.

The Dangerous Myth of Success

The story of the dreamer who created something in a garage/basement/dorm room and turned it into a wildly successful business, though inspirational, carries with it two hidden, and extremely dangerous, messages. The first is that a clever individual created something independent of a problem requiring a solution people were willing to pay for. The second is that people should sell a product or service after creating it. (Yes, you read that right.) Together, these messages mutate the idea of business in the mind of the entrepreneur from the simple act of profitable service into a complicated trial by fire promising years of pain and struggle in return for little hope of success.

With the help of those who’d gone before me, I’d finally broken the spell the myth of entrepreneurship had cast on me. Entrepreneurs should be serving a market by addressing a need – like solving a painful problem – and selling their solution before creating their product or service.

If this sounds at all alien to you, or even downright impossible, that’s understandable. It certainly threw me for a loop when I discovered it. But when I considered the alternative, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Get Paid First

To make things a bit more concrete, here’s how my book example would have looked had I known then what I know now. First, I would have gone to teachers and parents and asked what problems their students/children were experiencing. I would have dug deep until I found something that was really holding them back. Whatever that would have been, I would have worked with them to design the ideal solution while cultivating a customer base primed to purchase what I’d create.

Next, I’d make an offer to those most eager for the solution to receive it faster – and/or with more favorable terms – in exchange for the money to fund the creation of the product or service (which is entirely possible if you’ve built up enough trust, and have a desirable enough solution).

Contrast this with the path I took only a few years earlier. That one brought frustration, confusion and uncertainty while this one virtually guarantees success. Much, much faster.

The True Nature of Selling

The way of the successful entrepreneur also makes selling so much easier because you’ve solved a problem you know people are willing to pay for. With your market! That means there’s nothing to push onto customers. In fact, they’ll be begging you to sell your solution to them! Honestly, great salespeople only want to sell things to people eager to buy them. Wouldn’t you rather shoot fish in a barrel, too?

If you’re still with me, your homework is to master the formula of solution to painful problem → sales → product/service from the best. I want you to join the mailing list of Perry Marshall, one of the greatest information marketers in the business right now, AS WELL AS the mailing lists of three other leaders in completely unrelated industries. Search Google until you find pages with email opt- in boxes (those little forms where you put in your name and email address to instantly get access to some beneficial gift). Open all of the mails you receive, study their systems, notice how they write, read between the lines and get sold!

[divider scroll_text=”Info About EnglishAnyone.com”]

Disappointed by the failure of my book, I turned, as most beginning entrepreneurs do, to the next “can’t miss” idea. EnglishAnyone.com began as a way to leverage the lessons I’d created for the classroom. It’s since become my English lesson laboratory and personal business school.

EnglishAnyone.com helps students speak fluent English clearly, confidently and automatically. We have over 200 video lessons available on YouTube, and produce a premium, monthly video course called Master English Conversation that uses our innovative Fluency Bridge method to help learners who struggle to speak finally become fluent.

By Drew Badger.

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Online Teaching Projects

What I Achieved in 2013, Projects in 2014, the Baby Effect, and Bill Gates

Online Teaching ProjectsFirst of all, Happy (belated) New Year to all my wonderful readers!

I receive many emails from fellow teachers each day, and love hearing about your situation, what you want to achieve, and your successes. Keep the emails coming!

2013 was a great year for me. On a personal note, our son Thomas was born in August and having him has brought us so much joy. Things have obviously changed a lot since then, but as you’ll see later in the post, having a baby around the house can actually improve productivity!

The best decision I made professionally was to focus on making and cultivating relationships; I have made some great connections with other online teachers which has led to some really incredible opportunities and new learning experiences.

Here is a summary of what I have achieved and learned in 2013.

I improved the lessons that I gave:  I always talk about how going freelance gives you the ability to experiment and grow as a teacher. Well, I took my own advice and added some new features, experimented with different techniques, and made my lessons even more specific to each learner.

I now give my students personalized audio every week that focuses on them getting past their common mistakes. I recommend that they listen a couple of times a day, every day. My students love it, and it means that they can hear my lovely voice wherever they go!

I started making videos on Youtube: I now have five videos on Youtube and the response so far has been really positive. I love making the videos (although it does take a lot of time and can be frustrating, especially when you forget to record the audio!) as I can throw all my creative energy into each one.

It has definitely given me more exposure and I have had many lesson requests from leaners who found me on Youtube. I have also noticed that my videos are shared much more than my blog posts.

I got serious with email: I started a free email course that received nearly 500 subscribers. Most came from a guest post that I wrote for Vocabla. I created an automated email course that subscribers received each day for 30 days. I tried to make it as informative and inspiring as possible, giving away a lot of value (marketing speak) and responding to each email that I received.

I have now made it about 20 emails over 30 days as I got some feedback saying that an email a day (which included action to be taken) was too much. As I gave out some really great information and responded to each email, I feel that I have a lot of dedicated followers. When I now email my list with new posts or videos, I get a lot of feedback and shares.

I have also received a lot of lesson requests from this list. The soft-sell approach has worked really well in this case.

I started this blog!: Starting this blog has not only allowed me to teach online, but to help me get my thoughts on marketing and teaching organized. Writing has been wonderful for me in general. I try to write a little each day whether it be a new post here, on my teaching site, or writing other materials and plans.

I made some really great connections: Connecting with other teachers has been incredible. I started this whole online thing with a lone wolf mindset, and thought that other teachers were competitors (keep away from MY students!). But, connecting with others has brought me into a whole new connected world. As I mentioned, this has brought new opportunities (such as being part of a wonderful MOOC on Wiz IQ).

To use social networks, you have to be social: I used to just copy and paste my links into Facebook groups, on Twitter, and Google Plus. But, to really get a lot out of these networks you have to adapt your message, ask questions, and interact.

I also try to make my artwork standout instead of just using a simple picture (or no picture at all). Visuals are becoming so much more important now due to the vast amount of posts that people see each day.

My son has made me more productive: Having a baby and stay-at-home wife around the house has forced me to change my working habits. I get up A LOT earlier than I used to (I got up at 5am this morning), take care of the morning type stuff, and then get to work. I have about three hours in the morning to do my non-teaching work, with an hour break changing/playing with/looking after Thomas the baby. I then usually teach from 11am to 4pm, and after that it’s family time again. I get a an hour or so at about 8pm to read a few things and do a bit of this and a bit of that.

Before Thomas came into our lives, I was nowhere near as focused. Having a baby not only makes you more productive (by having less time to work on things, I get them done instead of procrastinating), but it also has given me a big boost of motivation to move my business onto the next level instead of just coasting.

Which helps us move on to the next section: 2014!

What Will 2014 Bring?

I have a lot of projects planned for 2014, all of which are focused on finding different types of income instead of just one-to-one teaching.

I love my one-to-one lessons and I have learned so much about the problems that students have through these lessons. I now feel that I have enough knowledge to branch out and enter the world of podcasting, group courses, and other products.

Podcasting: I have the microphone, the recording software, and, as I’ve been told, the voice to make it big in the world of podcasting! I also have a very willing and American sounding wife who will bring an entertaining dynamic to our new shows.

We want to create a fun show for intermediate speakers and up that is based on conversational English. The inspiration has come from many other podcasts, but mostly from Notes in Spanish (If you’re learning Spanish, I highly recommend this podcast). I received an email from them the other day that said that they have had over ten million downloads. TEN MILLION! It blew me away. If we can get just one percent of that in the first year, and a certain percent of those buy our product, then, well.. let’s not get carried away. Instead, I’m looking at it as an adventure and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

More videos: I love making videos and I’m going to experiment with different ways to approach this. For example, I want to make more videos that help learners take charge of their learning. I also received a request from a student to introduce more vocabulary. So, there is a lot to be explored.

I don’t currently monetize my videos on Youtube, but I may look at doing this in the future. At the moment, I use it to drive people to my email list and as a way to better connect with English learners.

More email focus: I’m going to make my email list a priority again this year. 2013 was when I truefully understood how important it is to have people subscribed to your email list. I’m going to offer more freebies and specifically target areas that are included in my niche.

I also redesigned my site so that users know the one action that I want them to take: to sign up. My design before had buttons everywhere and this led to confusion. My sign up rates have doubled as a result of this change.

More niche focus: Niche, niche, niche.. I think this is the most used word on this blog. But, it’s so important, and I’ve found myself falling into an even more targeted niche over the past 12 months: a language coach. I love language learning in general, and I’m also interested in the personal development world, so a lot of what I enjoy writing about now is how English learners can improve through self-study.

I’m also staying with my exam preparation lessons as as preparing students for exams makes the lessons more focused and it naturally has an end point. In a lot of cases, it also makes a huge difference to the lives of my students. Seeing pictures of my formerly frozen Russian students sunbathing in Australia also gives me the sense that I’m doing something worthwhile!

Group lessons and MOOCS: I’m currently putting together a group course that focuses on the change of mindset that is needed for learners to make progress and how learners can do this on their own (with a little help of a certain teacher through online lessons 😉 ).

Doing courses such as these will help me scale my income and will ultimately mean that I can teach less hours.

Continue this blog: .. and complete my guide. I have the first draft more or lesson finished, but there is still a lot to do. I want it to offer A HUGE amount of value (marketing speak again). I’m not putting a date on it, but if I had to guess… no, I’m not even going to give an estimate.

There’s a lot there. Enough to make me want to curl up into a ball and watch reruns of Friends all day. But, let’s bring in Bill Gates to help me get my focus back:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I’m going to change ten years to one yearand voila, I feel much better. In fact, if I look back to what I achieved in 2013, the majority was done in the second half of the year (after Thomas was born), and was all due to a change of mindset.

The three hour window that I have each day to do my creative work and marketing doesn’t seem that much. But, over a year, I can get a lot done. So, instead of feeling overwhelmed with my projects and then doing nothing, I just focus on what I can do right now to keep myself going in the right direction, and try to enjoy the process as much as possible.

And, if you are starting to think that this focus can be applied to learning languages and that I’m going to include this advice in my self-study course, then you are most certainly correct!

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

Well, hello there! I've been teaching online (independently) since 2011 and I'd LOVE to help you do this too. Curious about working from anywhere in the world and on your own terms? Just click the button below to get started!

how-to-teach-engish-online