Private Lessons or School Teaching?

If you`re looking for a TEFL job, a quick search on the Internet will bombard you with opportunities to teach at schools in any number of places. Classrooms of 20-plus young students eager to learn English from a native speaker – well, that`s the idea anyway. But beneath the fairly obvious and relatively secure option of working at a state or private school or education institution is the opportunity to teach English privately. There are many advantages to this style of teaching; better pay (hopefully), more autonomy, fewer working hours (sometimes), more motivated students, and no colleagues (advantage for some, disadvantage for others). The reasoning goes that if someone is willing to give their own money to pay for lessons then they should have a stronger desire to actually learn the language than, for example, a teenager who has to learn English as part of the national curriculum.

Private lessons can also be more rewarding in terms of benefit to the student. An hour spent instructing a class of three is always going to yield better results than those attained in a noisy classroom of 30 people. Remuneration is often higher per hour than school teaching, too. Speaking to one person who taught in Tokyo, I learnt that they supplemented their income from teaching at a school by doing some private lessons – from these lessons the teacher could earn as much as 12,000 yen (roughly 60GBP) per hour! Remuneration is, for most people, the key motivation when it comes to work, so before taking up a long term teaching contract, it might be wise to see what potential there is for private tuition.

Of course, the downsides are ever-present; less job security, finding, keeping and motivating students, creating your own lessons plans etc., and dealing with the potentially tricky issue of being self-employed in a foreign country (tax issues and all) , among other things. Have you had experience of private teaching? Or do you find that teaching in a classroom is more rewarding? Please share your experiences with me: tefl at jobs dot ac dot uk.

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About Ben Davies

The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to some ideas about teaching English as a foreign language. I lived in Japan and taught English for several years. It was a great experience that I would strongly recommend. Browse through the blog posts and get some tips, or get in touch if you have a specific question or comment.

One Response to Private Lessons or School Teaching?

  1. Tara says:

    I have not taught for a while, but when I did in Athens (Greece), I found private teaching more rewarding. I think because in a private language school, many of the students were there because their parents put them there, whilst the students I taught privately, wanted to learn English and worked hard at it.

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