Teach English in Spain: Teach Private Classes
Posted by Casi Cielo
Part 4 of 5 articles covering specific information on teaching private English classes in Spain. See our sample English teaching poster.
Private classes, aka teaching English one on one, are called clases particulares, so pay particular attention to the information as follows if you want to be successful with your particular classes. Okay bad joke.
- Make Your Teaching Poster/Flyer: Make an English teaching poster with tear away phone number and email addresses. See the template we’ve provided here. Write it in Spanish, English and the local language (Catalan, Gallego, Euskera) if you can. You can download our sample English teaching poster here.
- Post Your Poster: Print them out and tape them to lamp posts, bulletin boards at the local gyms, internet cafes, libraries, university boards – anywhere where people are allowed to post them. Ask friends to post them at their work. Flyers at other good high visibility places like bus stops or phone booths will likely be removed within days or hours (very disheartening).
- Business Cards: Get English teaching business cards, keep at least 5 with you at all times. Many new students come from referrals!
- Flyers: Print smaller posters, like flyers, about _ of an A4 sheet, and hand them out on busy streets or at metro stops at rush hour.
- English Teacher Networking: Network with other English teachers, often you’ll get their excess students.
- Online Ads: Post an ad on loquo.com or other classifieds sites in the language classes section. Repost it everyday! This can be an very efficient way to gain students.
- Hourly Rate: Don’t charge less than 15 €/hour. If you’re doing business English, at least 20 €/hour. Once you factor in your transit time, fees and lesson planning you realize just how little you’re actually making.
- Evaluations: Do a half hour long, free evaluation with all your new students, as taught in your TEFL course. Cafes are good meeting places. Then decide where the classes will actually take place and if this student is a god match for your. Don’t put yourself in awkward, uncomfortable situations.
- Communication: If your Spanish isn’t great, encourage communication via email or text message wherein you can take the time to translate and communicate correctly on your own terms.
- Professionalism: Maintain professionalism. It can be tempting to become casual over time, but you’ll lose out as soon as you want to up your rates, take a vacation, or charge them for missed classes.
- Cancellation Policy: Have a cancellation policy and stick to it. For example: Given 24 hours notice – no charge Within 24 hours of class – half charge This is fair, just be sure to be up front about this during your initial evaluation and meeting.
- Getting Paid: Charge them up front whenever possible, calculating the month’s class hours and bringing them some sort of invoice. You don’t need a tax ID normally (NIE, NIF) if you’re not autonomo. This just makes it easier to manage payments as it can be the least comfortable part of your job as a private English teacher, and makes you appear professional.
- Socializing With Students: Minimize outside social activities with your students or you’ll end up with an intercambio partner instead of a paying student. Professional boundaries are key.
- Class Location: Location of class is important. I wouldn’t recommend doing English classes at your house or apartment if you’re a single female. It may be uncomfortable for you until you know them well. Classes at their house or office require that you commute, so build that into your hourly rate. One teacher I know does small group English classes in the back room of a bar where he knows the owner. The students have to order something non-alcoholic and the teacher charges less because it’s a group class: everyone wins. Having English classes in a café is okay, but the background noise can be prohibitive to effective listening and thus learning. The subject of who pays the tab can be awkward too.
- Class Schedules: Time of classes: most students will want classes during the hours of 2-5pm and 7-10pm. That’s during their lunch break/siesta and after work respectively, and doesn’t provide many potential hourly slots for your overall schedule. You can encourage classes at other times by charging less outside of these prime-time teaching hours by reducing your rates during off-peak times or charging more during peak-times. Teaching on the weekends should be minimized as it will affect your social life, the student is less focused, and it will generally lead to more cancelled classes on both of your parts. It’ll restrict your weekend travels too, which is a common activity for English teachers (and with the stress of teaching, you’ll need them!).
- Summer Holidays: In August your class hours will almost entirely dry up, so save some money and do some traveling during August or work at a summer camp.
- Don’t Give Up: There are tons of English teachers in Spain and things may get desperate at times (or not if you’re hard working and a little lucky) but remember that teachers come and go all the time. Stick it out and keep marketing yourself, soon you’ll be turning students away or referring them to fellow teachers too. Keep your chin up. And don’t be hung over for classes, and enjoy the experience. It’ll probably change your life.
- Teaching Materials: Materials can be difficult to come by, or just expensive to buy. Here are some ideas and tips: