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How to Teach Private English Lessons in Spain

I was walking through Parque Retiro, speaking English with a friend when a woman walked right up to us and asked us if we could give English lessons to her grandson.

The job offers don’t always come this easy, but the fact is that being an English speaker in Spain makes you a hot commodity. Teaching private English lessons is a great way to make extra cash and meet interesting locals.

Finding Students

The two most effective ways are:

1. Advertise

In an ad, you should include-

  • The words “Clases particulares de inglés”
  • That you are a native speaker (if you are)
  • Any specifics about the classes you offer (“Clases para niños,” “Clases de conversación”)
  • Any qualifications you have (experience, TEFL certificate, degree in English)
  • Your phone number (email adress will get you less responses)

Hanging up flyers around town is a great way to get your advertisement out there.

Posting ads on the internet is also effective, especially if you live in a large city. The best websites for advertising English classes are:

2. Meet students through people you know

People you know will often recommend you to their friends or families. If you work at a school, teachers and students will often ask you for lessons.

What to Ask the Student

Before you start the classes, find out:

What they want to learn English for

Common reasons for learning English include:

  • Preparing for a certification exam
  • Help with an English class
  • Travel
  • Work

What their level of English is

They may give you their English level in terms of CEFR:

A1 – Beginner
A2 – Elementary
B1 – Intermediate
B2 – Upper Intermediate
C1 – Advanced
C2 – Mastery

Not everyone has an accurate perception of their English level, so it’s up to you to dig deeper when you first met with them.

Also keep in mind that they’re abilities to read, write, speak, and listen may be at very different levels. For example some people can read well but have a hard time understanding people talk, and others can understand spoken English very well but have difficulty speaking it.

When and how often they want to meet

Evening classes tend to fill up faster, but with the crisis lots of people have their mornings free as well.

Cuándo quieres dar las clases? When do you want to have the classes?
Cuántas clases semanales quieres? How many weekly classes do you want?
Podemos quedar a partir de las … We could meet after … o’clock.

Where they want to meet

Many people will ask you to come to their house or to go to your house. You can also meet in a public place like a cafe, library, school, park.

Dónde quieres dar las clases? Where do you want to have the classes?
Quieres clases a domicilio? Do you want classes at your house?

Do not go to someone’s house the first time if you met them through an ad. Meet them in a public place for at least the first class. It’s just common sense.

The First Class

Spend the first class getting a feel for their English level, their personality, their learning style, and their goals.

A great activity for the first class is to each write down 5-10 questions for each other and then take turns asking them aloud. It’s a great way to get to know them and see what their English level is, not to mention the look of glee on their face when they learn that the word “siblings” exists.

Seriously, I have never had a student who heard the word “siblings” before, even the nearly-fluent ones.

Lesson Planning

What you do during the lesson depends on what the student’s language level is and what their reasons for learning English are. Lesson planning can go one of three ways:

No planning

Some people just want an English conversation partner. These are the easiest type of lessons because you get paid to simply sit and chat.

They plan the lesson

This is usually the case for people who are taking an English class and just want you for extra help. Theses lessons are usually spent doing exercises in their book, reading over their assignments, and answering any questions they have.

You plan the lesson

All you need to plan a lesson is something to talk about and something to do.

An easy way to do this is to pick a topic for each lesson. Every ESL book I’ve every seen has sections about the same 10 or so topics:

  • Food
  • Travel
  • Family
  • Sport
  • Clothing
  • Technology
  • Work
  • Recreation
  • Nature
  • English speaking cultures

You can ask them to write a short essay to bring to class, have them research vocabulary about the topic, write up a list of questions for them, find a short reading, or simply spend the class discussing the topic.

A good activity for advanced students is asking them to write a summary of a news article and then discussing it in class.

Some students have more specific topics or questions in mind, so you can design lessons focused on pronunciation or grammar concepts or whatever they want to learn (as long as you’re up to teaching it).

Remember that all lesson planning should be done with the students and designed around their needs.

What to Charge

There’s no magic number. The price depends on what you and your students can agree on. Somethings you may want to consider are:

How many students

The best way to make decent money from private lessons is to give group lessons, and to have the per person rate be lower than individual lessons. This works out well for everybody, they pay less per person and you make more money per hour.

City You’re in

You can charge more in a rich area and less in a poor area. Big cities tend to be richer than rural areas. But of course big cities also tend to have a higher population of English teachers which means more competition so you can’t set the prices too high.

Location of class

It’s common to charge people more if you go to their house and less if they come to your house or you meet in a public place. Transporting yourself to their house will take time (and maybe money if you have to take public transport to get there) and therefore the lesson should be more expensive.

Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” if you think it’s not a good fit
  • Have a cancelation policy, and be aware that students may cancel classes a lot
  • You will be asked questions you don’t know the answers to. It’s better to tell them you don’t have the answer than to make something up

Vocabulary

Clases particulares private lessons
hablante nativo/a native speaker
a domicilio at home (usually meaning at the student’s home)
nivel de inglés English level
clases semanales weekly classes
a partir de las… after … o’clock
sobre las… around … o’clock

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5 Responses to How to Teach Private English Lessons in Spain

  1. Jillian January 1, 2014 at 5:56 PM #

    This is a super informative article! Thank you for posting this. Did you just move to Spain and find work there as a teacher or did you do a TEFL?

    P.S. You write for Cracked?! Amazingness.

    • Kate Peregrina January 3, 2014 at 7:39 PM #

      I’m glad the article was helpful!! I work in Spain as an auxilar de conversacion which is the greatest job ever.

  2. Theodora March 3, 2014 at 9:46 AM #

    Wow! Your blog is such a help as I prepare to study abroad in Madrid next year. I would like to get a job teaching English. Do you think my odds are better with private tutoring or the auxilar program?

    Please post more so I can live vicariously through your posts until I get to Spain!

  3. Hattie February 2, 2015 at 11:45 PM #

    Hi Kate,

    Really pleased I found your article as I am about to move to Barcelona with my husband and 19month old. I am very keen to teach English privately and will be doing an online TEFL course. Did you do a TEFL course and do you have any advice?

    Thanks,

    Hattie

  4. Haydee February 21, 2015 at 5:05 AM #

    Thanks Kate great article, I’ve been looking into teaching program in Spain and found your website so helpful! Hopefully I will be joining in September!

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