Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions in the ESL world is, “Where can I find ESL students I can teach on my own?

For many ESL teachers, this is the dream: filling your schedule with dedicated and paying private students. Undeniably, it has been a long quest for most ESL teachers.

They just can’t wait to make the leap from earning a few bucks with someone else’s ESL company to being their own boss boosting their income. If you are one of them, hopefully, this article becomes the answer to your fervent prayers.

Fantastic Students and Where to Find Them

They are hanging out in different corners of the internet. These students are usually from Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and more predominantly, China. Where exactly can you find them?

  1. Facebook – Join English learning groups. Type in keywords such as:
    Learn English Online, Learn English Grammar and Speaking Skills, Improve English Grammar and Facebook will show you tons of public and closed groups with thousands of members hungry for learning English.
  2. YouTube – There are countless videos on learning English on this largest video-sharing website. Select the ones with the most views. Scroll down to the comment section. Lo and behold. You’ll see potential students screaming for help: “How can I learn english fast”, “I can read but I can’t speak!” “Who can help me speak with an American accent?”, “I get intimidated when I speak English to native speakers.” Get ready with your spiel. This is your chance. Hit the reply button and tell them what you can do.
  3. HelloTalk – One of the best language exchange apps I have ever discovered. It’s basically an app that matches you directly with people who are fluent in the language you want to learn and want to learn the language that you’re fluent in. Search the app on Google Play or on the App Store. It’s very user friendly.

Hello, Let’s Talk

I downloaded the app not to learn yet another language but to search for students. If you are a non-native speaker of English hoping to get students via Hello Talk, make sure to set the (native) language to English. Make no mistake of setting it to your real native language. Because once set, you can no longer change it to any other language. In other words, it’s one and done.

Here are the key features of the app:

1. Search for people whose needs match yours
2. Practice your target language with native speakers via text/audio messages
3. Free audio and video call to better practice your listening and speaking skills
4. Share moments with other members and get Likes and Comments
5. Learning specific features: Translation, Transliteration, Grammar correction, Text to voice, and Voice recognition to improve your writing/speaking skills
6. It’s not curriculum based, it’s communication based. You have no homework. Instead, you’re having fun while learning

Feel free to experiment and navigate around the app. You’ll get used to it in no time. If you wish to attract students from China set Location to China & Language to Learn to Chinese. If you prefer to teach South Koreans then do the same. The settings can obviously do magic for you.

Perfect Rule of Thumb

Create a self intro both text and audio on HelloTalk. Your choice of a profile picture (smile, preferably showing your teeth, as this makes you look approachable) is very important as well.

Be active on the app. Post short lessons everyday be it about grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation. Respond to comments. Make corrections. By the way, the app is super cool when it comes to corrections. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get things corrected. Go check it out!

You will notice that users will add you and direct message you. Don’t rush. First, build friendships. Establish your credibility. This is what I do. I also added my website to the app. Having your own website definitely have a big impact on how others perceive you.

In order to be successful, you’ll have to start thinking of your ESL students as clients. You have to think of what you do as a business. Come to think of it. What kind of business does not have a website?

If ever you need one let me know. I can help you. Good Luck!

Posted in ESL
Posted by:Kenjie Suarez

Ken currently lives in China working as an ESL teacher. When he is not teaching, he builds websites and writes blogs. He also helps teachers obtain a TESOL certificate and get a teaching job in China.

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