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Tips for teaching private English classes

Written by Christine

One of the most common ways that expats choose to make extra money when living abroad is by teaching private English classes. Right now in Barcelona, there is a huge market for people looking to learn or improve their English, so there are many ways to get started. While this is a great way to earn extra cash, there are a few things that you should think about beforehand to ensure that your business is as successful as possible.

Spread the word

Photo credit: susivinh via VisualHunt / CC BY-ND

Photo by: susivinh via VisualHunt

The first step to teaching private English classes is to get the word out that you’re looking for students. An old-school approach to getting your name out there is to post flyers in public areas with your contact information so that prospective students can get in touch with you. A more modern way to publicize yourself is to create an account with This website lets you create a detailed ad describing your credentials and availability so that students can contact you based on compatibility and needs. Once you start to have a client base, most likely word-of-mouth will become your primary means of contact- satisfied students will tell their friends and soon your phone will be ringing off the hook!

Keep it dynamic

One thing that new teachers struggle with is ways to keep the class fun and interesting while still effective. The first thing you must do is find out what it is that the student is looking for in a class. Do they want conversation? Grammar? Vocabulary? Or a little bit of everything? Especially with adults, finding out the purpose of the class is key. Once you know what it is that the student wants to improve, plan enough so that you change activities about every 15 minutes or so to keep the student engaged and interested. If you are teaching children, you might need to change the activity even more frequently since kids need interactive and meaningful ways of learning. Don’t stick with any activity for too long, especially if you notice that you’re losing the student. and are both great resources to get materials from to help you get started.

Related article: How to be an English teacher in Barcelona

Know your stuff

Photo credit: DFAT photo library via VisualHunt / CC BY

Photo by: DFAT photo library via VisualHunt

While this might seem really obvious, one important thing to do when teaching English is to make sure you know what you’re talking about. While it’s difficult to know every single grammar or spelling rule from memory or to know why English speakers use certain phrasal verbs, you should brush up on the contents of the lesson before each class. The same goes if a student is preparing for a certificate: familiarize yourself with the formats of the Cambridge and Trinity exams so that you can better help your students to successfully prepare for them. If you are unprepared for your classes, chances are that your students will be able to tell. Make sure that you prepare each class by putting yourself in your student’s shoes: would you pay for this class? The better prepared you are, the more success you will have in the long run, you as a teacher and the satisfaction of your students.

About the author


Christine is a traveler, teacher, writer, and beach-lover, exploring Barcelona one tapa at a time!

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