Teaching private ESL lessons while overseas!

Dear Teachers! Today we would like to share a guest post that we did with Language Corps back in the summer. This was a piece written by co-founder of Off2Class, James Heywood. He speaks about the importance of teaching private ESL lessons while working abroad…to make money online when you return.

A bit of background information on James…
After an overland trip from Southeast Asia to Turkey, James fell in love with Istanbul, and soon after decided to call it his new home. To support himself, he gave ESL teaching a try and eventually was teaching enough private ESL lessons to quit his day job at his private school. Today, James wants to give other ESL teachers going abroad some useful advice: save your contacts so you can teach ESL online when you get home!
Teaching private ESL lessons can be lucrative while abroad… and when you move on
Teaching private ESL lessons is a great way to supplement your day-job income from your school or language institute. Many students (and their parents) are willing to pay a premium rate for an ESL teacher with whom they have a personal relationship. While teaching ESL abroad, you will be in a great position to pick up private lessons. Of course, it’s not a good idea to teach your day-job students on a private basis. But regardless, in your current employment you will be exposed to plenty of parents and other contacts that are looking for a private tutor. Do not let these opportunities go! Actually, if there is a single piece of advice to offer ESL teachers who are abroad or intend to be, it is this: save each and every contact detail you have about your current students, and if you teach young learners, establish a relationship with their parents too.
If one day you want to pick up and move on from the current place you call home, you can take your students with you through online teaching. The greatest challenge to all new private teachers (especially online teachers) is to find students, yet the task is so much easier when you have a bank of contacts to begin with. Save every detail. You will not regret it!
In my experience, once I had built a strong rapport with students and parents, the requests for private tuition started to roll in. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of teaching in Turkey was to learn just how much developing economies pour money into education. Where national school systems may fall down in some areas, parents are ready and willing to spend considerable amounts of money to ensure their children develop high proficiency in the English language.
Online teaching is a great way to transport your ESL students once you leave…
In my case, the grind of moving from one private lesson to another in a city the size of Istanbul eventually started to wear me down. It was time to teach online. At the beginning of 2013, I stopped face-to-face lessons, set up a simple website and began moving my current students online. I highly recommend trying online ESL teaching to all ESL teachers running private lessons/tutorials. Even if you have no plans of moving from your current home abroad, you should still give online teaching a try to get comfortable with the format. During summer vacation you’ll still be able to teach your private students, as they move to summer homes or to vacations in other places.

Any questions on teaching private ESL lessons or going online? Get in touch! James is happy to offer ESL teachers one-on-one coaching sessions to get them online!


  • Jack Curran says:

    November 9, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Hi James,
    So kind of you to offer this help and also the whole concept of Off2 is so helpful. I am semi-retired in the southern part of Japan. I had to come here with my Japanese wife as her ailing parents needed regular attention. My wife, as the eldest sibling, had to shoulder this responsibility. Previously we had spent many years in Tokyo and we had many friends and great students that we were sad to leave. I have a few students in Katsuura where we live – but it is such a small and remote town that students are hard to come by. A couple of my ex students in Tokyo would, I think welcome online lessons. Could you give me advice on setting up a webpage etc. etc.
    Many thanks,
    John Curran

  • agustin says:

    December 10, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Hi Mr. Heywood,
    Any advice about how to be accostumed and able to handle a webpage in order to teach EFL would be welcome.
    I am an English teacher leaving in Colombia since march and I would love to teach online.
    Kind Regards,
    Agustín Iturralde

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      December 12, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Hi agustin, we have all sorts of useful resources to help you get started with your online ESL/EFL business. Start here for now: https://www.off2class.com/category/teaching-english-online-blog/ and you can send me a message through our support page: https://www.off2class.com/support/ if you have more questions!

    • Charles says:

      December 31, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Agustin
      I personally wouldn’t worry about setting up a website. It’s not necessary for teaching students as you can use Skype or Google Hangouts for communicating, and third party whiteboards like IDroo, Twiddla or WizIQ…and, of course, Off2Class. Any materials I use, I upload into IDroo. A website can be useful for helping you find students, but you’re better off doing what James suggests and speaking to your Colombian students about teaching them online in the future.
      Good luck!

  • Susan says:

    April 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I am slowly setting up to teach online while traveling in the summer but my greatest problem is the internet connection. I am often abroad and do not have much wifi access and where I do is not the right place for a lesson.
    Even teaching on the go in Italy with my 3G connection would be troublesome – a one hour lesson would probably use up all my month’s quota.
    How do you all handle the internet connection problem when on the go?
    Thanks for your advice,

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      April 13, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Susan, yes, access to a stable Internet connection is a significant issue. Although this article was meant to target people living abroad (expat teachers abroad, but in stable situations) I have met some teachers that teach their students (sometimes full time!) travelling from one country to the next.
      First, I’d do my best to try to minimize the bandwidth you use while on lessons so your lessons don’t crash. If you don’t already, use Zoom.us as your videoconference software, it preforms very well in low bandwidth environments. Also, don’t use screen sharing. To really save bandwidth, have your students log into Off2Class and join the lesson you choose from their own panel. (their slides will automatically move as you flick yours)
      As for internet, have you researched whether the local telecoms offer portable USB sticks with 3G/4G data connections in the location where you are going? These can sometimes be the best solution for more remote / unconnected areas.
      Hope this helps!

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