Teaching Private Classes: Making Money on the Side

Sooner or later.  Usually sooner.  Every teacher of English overseas is going to be offered the “private” job, the teaching job “on the side” that is separate from your main job.

Some teachers will have been looking for the offer, hoping to increase their income.  Others weren’t interested at all, but the offer came anyway.

Teaching Private Classes is Usually Illegal

In most countries teaching “on the side” is illegal unless expressly written into your working papers. Often it is also prohibited by your employment contract.

But the offers can be quite lucrative and, in some cases, you may even double your regular income – or more.  More than a few teachers use private teaching as a way to significantly increase their earnings.

Don’t do anything Illegal

We can’t recommend that you do anything illegal.  You will, however, find that the risk in some countries is almost non-existant, but in other countries employers and authorities are vigilant.  Vigilance is not usual though, thus teaching privately tends to be quite common in many countries.

How do These Jobs Come About?

Most often you will be approached directly by someone wanting a private teacher.  I even had, in at least two countries, my employer arrange them for me.  I didn’t ask for them, they asked me to take the classes and teach them!

If you are looking for this kind of work, be patient.  Schools and students tend to be a bit wary of newcomers and like to wait to see if you are a reliable and competent teacher.  Offers don’t typically come immediately, but they do come.

One Warning Though

If you intend to take private classes and are teaching illegally, it is best to keep quiet about your classes.   People who become a bit too boisterous and too obvious can find themselves in trouble.

TED’s Tips™ #1:   If you decide to take private classes, do so discretely and – in most countries – you’ll never have a problem.   Again, however, we recommend that you keep yourself 100% legal.  😉


Teaching Internships in China


Making Money on the Side

How to Increase your TEFL Income

A wise reader asked (because not ALL jobs pay well):

Are there jobs in private language schools, that could be a source of income on the side?

Yes, but you can probably make more money (and enjoy yourself more) teaching either groups of local English teachers how to improve or teaching classes of businesspeople or an unimaginable variety of other options.

I’d take the language school last. I’ve almost always taught business people (I have an MBA and an M.Ed.) and often teachers. I’ve written book summaries, published textbooks, done lots of private tutoring or sometimes taught examination skills for TOEFL or IELTS . . . If you are open to opportunity it is there.

Ideally, don’t try to solve all these things in advance. Many things unexpected will unfold right before you and if you are already committed to a certain path, you may well miss something even better. Conversely I am not suggesting that you not be pro-active in sorting things out.

Here is how it works: Your school and everyone you meet will be very careful around you. They have met a LOT of crazy, sometimes disturbed, sometimes very unethical teachers. They will watch you for a while before they decide you are okay.

All they want to see is that you are sober, reliable, friendly, skilled – all those things you are that those other people also said they were – but weren’t.

Once they have decided you are okay – it starts slowly and then the floodgates will open and you can often end up with more work than you want. AND, Asia is personal contact and direct-referral oriented.

That means that if a friend thinks you are okay then you are and I want you to teach me TOO. Once you have a few things you are doing it geometrically expands.

Part of that means don’t ask for a lot of extra stuff at first – let it come to you. You will send me an email one year from now and say, “Yes! It came to me!” – I would put a good wager on it . . .

TED’s Tips™ #1: Let things play out a bit. Don’t try to solve all questions, all problems before you even get to where you are going.