How to set up as an independent English teacher

How to set up as an independent English teacher

In the first of a series of articles about setting up as an independent online English trainer, expert Louisa Walsh argues it’s essential to get the right view of your role, in order to attract and maintain students.

"Online English teaching is my passion – I’ve done it for over 13 years, made plenty of mistakes and learned so much on the way.  One thing I did from the outset is adjust my thinking about my role. It has paid great dividends - I’ll explain more below.

But let’s start with a question:

English language teacher or English language trainer. They mean the same thing, right?

Well, I don’t think so. What you call yourself matters because it says a lot about your approach to classes and learning.  So, let’s have a look at the difference as I see it.

Teachers teach. They are in charge. They determine the subject matter. The students are more passive and ‘receive knowledge’. It suggests English is a subject to be studied. The class ends and students have learned (sometimes!). All well and good.

That might work to an extent when you are leading a class of children. As an independent 1-1 English trainer for adults, not so much.

In contrast, English language trainers work alongside their learners, motivating, challenging and supporting them. They are led by their learners, by their needs and objectives. They learn when to jump in, to help and push, and when not to.

Your student is a much more active participant: often choosing themes and is in charge of their learning priorities. English is goal-oriented. It’s an active, alive process, and is more fun as a result.

Casting yourself as an English language trainer is an important distinction because the training role is naturally more responsive. Trainers listen first and they adjust to the needs of the learner.

A trainer-mentality is important if you are trying to attract new clients.

This is because:

* your bio should reflect your learners' needs (not you)
* your video needs to show the outcomes for your learners (it’s not about your methods)  
* your ‘free trial lesson’ will show your ability to listen and understand your learners above all else

A trainer-mentality is also important if you are trying to retain students. 

This is because:

* priorities change and you’ll need to check in again and again to deliver classes that work
* your student can easily go elsewhere if they don’t feel heard
* the training relationship is built on a good rapport and energy.

Get this right and your students won’t go anywhere else.

Many of my English learners have been with me for years. I never take that for granted, but we have a solid relationship built on trust and responsiveness. I’m not their teacher. However, I train them, coach them, motivate them, and retain them.

Word of mouth means I rarely have to advertise. They find me!”

How to create magnetic profile on independent tutoring websites like italki, Verbling and Preply >>

Want to be an inspiring independent English trainer?
Louisa is offering 1-1 bespoke Zoom classes for existing and aspiring online English teachers.
Find out more about her 1-1 coaching packages >>

You set the tone for lessons in your first lesson. Watch the video below for tips on creating successful online English trial lessons that convert.

  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: 08/04/2021

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How to set up as an independent English teacher