A New Way to Make Money by Teaching English

My second cup of coffee is half gone as I fill in the last square of the Sudoku. The LA Times crossword has already been vanquished. Now it’s time for Eduardo, my first student of the day, to join me.

He’s a few minutes late (as usual). But I don’t mind. When you teach English online to students via Skype, everything is easier.

We begin our class with a recap of our respective weekend activities. Eduardo then reads aloud an article about Brazil‘s foreign trade policy. I stop him only to correct his pronunciation. When he finishes the article, we discuss it, giving Eduardo a chance to formulate and present his opinions in English.

I’ll have two more classes today. One, with Danielle, will be similar in format. The other, with Flávia, will be to prepare her for an MBA admissions interview. These classes will also be via Skype—as are almost all of my classes these days.

How did I begin teaching English by Skype? Almost by accident. When I lived in Rio, I taught students face-to-face in their homes and offices. Then a year ago I decided to move to the small town of Paraty. As Paraty (a UNESCO World Heritage site) draws tourists from around the world, I’d counted on finding lots of work teaching English.

However, the work didn’t materialize. Most of the locals simply don’t earn enough to pay what I wanted to charge.

So I contacted my old students in Rio, inviting them to continue studying with me via Skype, at a discounted rate (which was still well above what I could command locally).

Shortly thereafter, I met a woman from São Paulo who was visiting here in Paraty. A couple of weeks later, she sent me an e-mail saying that she had a friend, Flávia, who’d like to study with me via Skype. Flávia in turn referred two other students to me. I found two more Paulista students during their vacations here in Paraty, and another via my Facebook fan page.

Still, I have few students, so I can devote time to tailoring a unique program of study for each one. My students appreciate the special attention. They also like that I charge about 1/3 less than they’d pay for face-to-face classes in their cities.

I earn a very good rate ($20-$23 per hour) by Paraty standards. Therefore, I don’t need to have many students. Recently I moved to a studio apartment. It’s well located, and cheap. Twelve hours of classes per month pay the rent. One more pays for the electricity and water.

Thanks to the Internet, I can live in a lovely little town which otherwise could not support me.

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