career development / TEFL

10 steps to getting started as a freelance language tutor

The great thing about freelance tutoring is that you can fill your day with as much as you like and you’re still free to pursue other projects, or even a full time job or study! Here are our 10 steps to getting started on the road to becoming a super freelance language teacher.

If you’re eager to get into the nitty-gritty of each step head over to the UK Language Project’s ultimate guide to starting your career as a freelance language teacher

1. Choose the language you’d like to teach

Play to your strengths. Maybe it’s your native language, maybe it’s TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Maybe it’s more than one. Being at C1 (advanced level) or above is usually a pre-requisite here. 

2. Start planning

Choose how you’re going to deliver lessons. Online vs offline, or a mix. You might already know the route you want to go but having a clear idea will help you plan your materials and equipment later. What types of students would you like to teach? You may know teaching kids is your thing. Or perhaps company executives is more interesting. Again, get a clear plan in your mind. You can always change and tweak as you go.  

3. Start teaching for free / exchanging languages to gain valuable experience

Try asking friends or relatives if you can teach them for free. For language exchanges, the uni can really help here. Get involved with language exchange programmes. You can meet other people and get the chance to learn / teach a language. It really is a win/win.  

4. Get qualified (optional)

For teaching English as a foreign language it’s really important to have at least the Cambridge CELTA teaching qualification. For other languages you’d be surprised but a bachelor’s degree is really all you need. Along with at least C1 (Advanced) level of the language. 

5. Get organised

Decide how much to charge, your cancellation policy and how to accept payments. It’s important to charge as much as you can. Perform a search to see how much other tutors are charging. Important note: value yourself. Never undercharge. You’re offering a professional service and already have years of learning behind you. Charging what you’re worth is the 1st step to success.

If you decided earlier to teach online it’s well worth investing in a quality camera for your computer/laptop. A quality microphone is also worth it. You need to stand out as a quality teacher. This is a really easy way to do that.  

6. Sign up to tutoring marketplaces

There are lots of tutoring marketplaces out there. A quick Google search for your language + tutor + your area and you’ll find a list of sites to sign up to. For example ‘Spanish tutor Warwick.’ See what comes up!

There are lots more details about this such as creating your profile, dos and don’ts of creating your profile and a lot more in the ultimate guide so we’d suggest having a look there to make sure you get it right. This is probably the most important step, If you can succeed at this step you will be well on your way.  

7. Teach, teach, teach

BLOG Tefl TeachYou need experience but you need to work to get the experience. But as you’re new no one will hire you. It’s difficult. But if you’ve followed the guide up to now you’ll be in a great position to start welcoming your 1st students. Once you have them, hold onto them for as long as you can. 

8. Ask for reviews

You’ll look less new if you have great reviews. 10 is the optimum. Nobody really looks past the top 5 reviews. Which is good for you. Get to at least 5, or 10 for bonus points! 

9. Rinse and repeat

The secret to success in anything is to just keep going. Building on what you’ve learned. Adding more students to your portfolio. It won’t happen overnight. But with patience and persistence you’ll get there. 

10. Widen your net

After a year or so you’ll have a good idea about whether private tutoring is for you. If so, reaching out to institutions/agencies who hire freelance teachers/trainers is a great way to supplement your own students. Agencies will take a cut of your earnings but their courses are often long-term and they generally pay quickly, dealing with pretty much all the admin of the courses.

So there you have it. A brief guide on getting started as a language teacher. Best of luck with your career planning!

Ed O’Neill is the Operations Director at the UK Language Project 

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