There is no doubt that giving private English lessons is the most lucrative form for teaching English in Brazil – if not one of the most profitable and easiest jobs a foreigner can have.
But the roadblock I see most teachers encounter is how to have a reliable and loyal following of customers who show up on time, pay when they should and take the classes seriously.
Today, I am going to hit the root of these core problems and tell you how you can achieve this while teaching private English lessons in Brazil.
1. Be what your Customers aspire to
The first and most important part of creating a loyal following of customers when teaching English, is to be a sincere and honest person and most importantly, just to be you.
People can smell insincerity a mile away and know when someone is out just to benefit from them. Think about it, how many pushy advertisements are you confronted with daily? Actually, more than you may be aware; this is due to the fact that we are conditioned to appall pushy advertising and just ignore it. We have some type of built in defense mechanism that goes up when we are approached by people who are out to get our money.
You must be sincere and honest, and really care for these students’ benefit.
You may have heard the age old saying “”, I can’t tell you how relevant this is.
Let’s say that you need to buy a plane ticket, you search around the internet at different sites that all seem to use the same search platform, except that they add extra advertisements that they want you to click on. But you also have a good friend who knows of a site that sells extra discounted tickets he has purchased from before (this is actually one of the tips I give out in my free newsletter/video series hehe). Who would you rather listen to?
The answer should be obvious, the person who you trust, who has been sincere and honest with you and who is real to who he/she is!
Do the same, don’t compromise who you are in order to seem more “professional” – people avoid this like the plague these days. I mean you are probably reading this blog post because I am just being honest and straight with you, and because I am just who I am right? (at least I hope!)
2. Focus on one area of Teaching at a time
If you could imagine teaching English to any group of people, who would it be? Let me be clear and straight with a few of you guys out there: young, attractive Brazilian women are in fact a group – just be aware that they may trick you into giving lessons for free! Alright, that’s out of the way…
Do you like children? Do you identify best with university students? How about adults? Specialized professionals?
Pick one group and stick with it, the worst thing you can do is to choose to be broad and cover “all” groups of students…trust me on this!
Here is why I say this: when a company , the immediate pressure in the oil well makes the oil come shooting out of the hole. But the pressure quickly dies down and the pump dries up. So what needs to happen? Well the company has to drill down deeper and deeper as only a tiny percentage (10% I think) of all oil lies at the top. And to get to the bottom, it takes a lot of persistence, focus and investment – but in the end it pays off.
This is the same for developing a following: you find the people you identify most with, and drill as deep as you possibly can into their world. Trust me, this will help you be the most qualified and value bringing to teach your group as possible!
3. Make English classes fun and rewarding
This is a piece of advice I have heard a lot be said: the more fun and rewarding the class, the more that the student will be engaged in it and want to participate. They will be able to clearly see their progress and understand that learning a language can be a wonderful experience.
In the end, it is all about customer service. There is nothing worse than an institutional feeling English class where the student shows up, meets a cold teacher and is asked to participate in a very robotic teaching method. This is actually how most English lessons are taught in public schools: the teacher could care less about teaching English. I actually have a friend where the same English teacher played the same cd’s for her for 4 years, she didn’t advance very far beyond “to be”…
You must be creative with your classes and figure out what makes it enjoyable for the student(s). Do they prefer having class at the beach? What makes learning grammar and vocabulary fun for your group? What would you want out of a class if you were a Portuguese student?
I will go over some specific tips on how to do this in the next part of this series.
4. Build Relationships, Spur Word of Mouth
Once you are the embodiment of what your students aspire to be, as I mentioned in point 1, the natural order of things is to use this identification with your students to build relationships with them and then spur word of mouth, thereby increases referrals.
People listen to their friends as their defenses are down – they accept what they have to say. So, when you have convinced someone within your teaching area that you are an honest and sincere person, that your classes give them great value and that they are fun and rewarding, the next order of things is to use this to your advantage to get them to convince people who trust them to be part of the group (take lessons).
How you do this is by keeping a casual relationship with the people you teach in within the classes, around town, on different social platforms and by having a newsletters.
Let me go over some ways you can do this:
Beyond making the class fun, is the idea of making it a safe and comfortable place to be, where you retain your authority as a teacher but at the same time make them feel at home.
You know, calling the student by first name, keeping up on the most relevant and important aspects of their life, asking into their personal affairs and personalizing the class so that it feels more like it’s a class about their life than the English language.
This will help unlock a great feeling of friendship, which will be very fruitful for both parties in the end, as they will begin to refer you more and more. But make sure in your classes to ask and challenge the student to find other serious friends who are interested in learning English to meet with you. You can even offer a type of finders fee or discount on their classes if their buddy end up taking classes with you.
The beauty of choosing a group of students you identify with is that it is not uncomfortable to encounter them outside “working” hours. This can be in the form of running into them around town, planning different types of get-togethers outside of class (beach outings or a churrasco maybe?) and so on.
This blurs the classroom line in the student’s head a bit. I see this as a good thing due to the fact that the student usually comes into a class with many preconceived notions, you’re job is to obliterate these notions and show them how they can put their hearts into the class.
This is also a great way to get your current students to bring friends along and thereby getting you more referrals.
Create a just for your students and regularly post useful links, funny pictures or whatever else you stumble across that will help them feel more connected with you and that they benefit from their relationship with you.
is another great way to have a continual and easy to maintain dialogue with your students. You can send personal tweets every now and then to help feed the relationship.
Social platforms offer one more really important things: social approval! Social approval basically means that if other people do it, it must be ok. When friends of your students see them writing back and forth with you, reposting pictures, tweeting to you, it lets their friends first-handedly witness a living testimonial. Powerful stuff!
I recommend that you start a newsletter that your students or any prospect can sign up to for free. You can incentivize them and say “sign up for my newsletter and I will give you a tip a week on learning English that I won’t release anywhere else”.
This really shows people that you are out to benefit and give to them. It’s a great way for people to get to know you better and keep updated and in touch as well.
I personally offer a newsletter plus free video series on this site for the same reason, my intention is to keep in touch and give you lots of free value so that I can earn your valuable trust.
If are curious as to what plugin I use on WordPress for my newsletters and social platforms, it’s the one called Optinskin (affiliate link) – you can see a video that shows how it can be used on a website in the link.
Getting a loyal following of customers takes time and effort to build up. This is like any relationship you build, the more a person get’s to know and trust you, the more they will confide in what you have to offer and recommend them. Because they will know that you truly have their best interests at heart and that your passion is to give to them. It is through that giving that they will feel happy and willing to give back.
My hope is that this blog post was enough to help you feel more confident in your success as an English teacher.
Look forward to the next part as I go over a list of tips to help you as a teacher!
Valeu, cheers and if you liked it, please share it.