If you’re considering teaching private English lessons, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First off, it is not going to be like teaching in a school or classroom, so some of the things that set up and kick off your lessons will not be in place. You are not going to be spending time getting everyone checked off for attendance or making sure who has their textbook.
So what do you need to do to get started then?
Here are a few things to keep in mind for your private lessons.
1. Make sure you stick to the time allotted. Running over will only cheapen the value of your time, starting late will encourage students to do the same.
2. Have a small whiteboard handy. This is great if you’re working on a table in a coffee shop, or even in your own home. Keep a couple of extra markers handy as well as it is a major pain to have your marker run dry.
Having the whiteboard can help you to quickly give examples, show spelling, or have the student or students do the same.
3. Have students pay you in an envelope. Especially if you are teaching in Japan or Korea, people don’t like to just hand off cash. Give them an envelope that has the months listed on it. This way you can check off the “Paid” months. It also gives that impression of both professionalism and continuity.
4. Be prepared with what you are going to do. Don’t just sit down and say “what do you want to do today?” Treat the lesson the same as you would any other class but allow yourself some freedom to go where the student likes and wants to go depending on the material you have planned for the day.
5. Give the student some prep work for the next lesson. No one, and I mean no one, likes homework, but you have to instill in the student the idea that the lesson is great, but it alone is not going to be enough to see real or rapid improvement in their English skills. Don’t call it homework, call it prep work. Have them bring some questions, write down a certain number of phrases they have come across during the week that they thought were interesting or did not fully understand and you will then go over them at the next meeting.
6. Ask them what kinds of information they want to learn. Classes, especially at schools and universities, have an outcome in mind. This means that students all too often learn what is taught only and that does not always match their needs or desires. Learning should always include at least some material that the student has a desire to know and hopefully use.
6. Don’t take breaks! This goes for during the lesson and between. Taking a break during the lesson, even a scheduled one will give the impression that you are stalling out the time. Get to it, stay with it, and finish on time.
You also want to avoid taking breaks for the week from lessons. The more times you take a ‘day off’ the more students will find that time was more fun being spent at the coffee shop, or playing with their friends. Retention is the key to success in private English lessons, and taking those breaks leads to more breaks and all too often permanent breaks by the students.
That should get you started.
Remember to make it fun. Be upbeat. Greet them warmly. Look happy to be doing the lesson. This will help the student to start off the lesson in a positive frame of mind, and it will help you to do so as well.