Tips for Teaching EFL/ESL Private Lessons

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You are probably working for some EFL school or government organization – but the salary is lousy! How do you improve your pay packet? Easy – do private lessons! We kid you not – doing private lessons is a lucrative way to earn big bucks: especially if you are teaching outside of the US.

So, what should you, as a novice EFL teacher, be aware of when teaching private lessons? Here are a few useful tips worth remembering.

First of all, you have got to find those lessons: most EFL private lessons are advertized in the local English language newspapers. For example, if in France try ‘The Connexion’; if in Spain, try ‘The Olive Press’, etc. Don’t forget – make sure that it’s a newspaper that caters for jobs in your area.

Once you have found a potential client – explain the ground rules. For example: state the hourly fee that is to be paid at the end of each lesson; explain that cancellations on the same day, for whatever reason, have to be paid for, etc.

Always negotiate – but be firm and fair.

When you turn up for your lessons, make sure that you are clean and appropriately dressed: don’t turn up wreaking of alcohol, still dressed in your torn T-shirt and Diesel shorts, and just out of bed from last night’s tour of the local bars.

The first lesson should be dedicated to determining the current level of the student’s English by written, oral, and aural testing: hopefully, you will also have gotten a lot of information over the phone about your client, for example: age, sex, current level of English, any examinations that the client is working toward, etc.

Once you have determined your client’s level of English, discuss exactly what they want to do: make suggestions, but don’t be pushy! For instance, if they don’t want homework, don’t set it. Make sure that you are well prepared for each lesson: always have a few lesson filler handouts and keep the client occupied throughout the whole of the lesson. Make sure that there is variety in the lesson: speaking, listening, reading aloud, and writing – and don’t neglect helping them with their homework.

Finally, try to be encouraging, patient, polite, and empathize with the student.