How To Make Extra Money While Living In Spain: 7 Tips For Giving Private Classes

18 Sep

If you guys are anything like I was two years ago you have spent the last six months (or longer) waiting eagerly to find out your placements, painstakingly waiting for your visas, and all the while dreaming about finally getting on the plane and arriving at your destination. For most of you the dream has already become reality (you’re in Spain!) and I’m sure you are all exhausted from looking for apartments and trying to get someone from your school to actually answer a question or two. And after the initial excitement wears away there comes the realization that you are earning 700€ a month… not exactly enough for those glamorous weekend getaways to Paris and Amsterdam.

I haven't made it to Paris (yet) but the private classes did get me to Amsterdam!

When I lived in Seville 700€ was definitely enough to live on and enjoy your free time. I can’t speak personally for other cities, but many have told me that they agree (especially in Andalucía!). To give you an idea, my budget was more or less the following:

Rent: 220€

Bills (My share of electricity and internet): 30€

Prepaid Orange Phone: 40€/month (and I hardly used it other than text messages)

Groceries: 120€/month including a few bottles of inexpensive wine here and there

Transportation to and from Carmona: 40€ (counting on the bus card discount and that I’d carpool a few times a week)

Eating out: 120€ (Going for tapas and drinks three times a week)

Going out: 100€ (This really depends on how often you go out, how much and what you drink, and if you go to places that charge a cover)

Total: ~ 670€

As you can see it is cutting it close, but you can definitely live in Seville with the grant money alone. However, I’m sure you haven’t accepted this job without contemplating traveling through Spain and other parts of Europe on your vacations or maybe you plan to take some classes or join a gym. Extra money is always appreciated and easily spent! Luckily it’s really easy to make extra money in Spain using little more than your good fortune of being a native English speaker.

A very common, in demand, and easy way to make extra money in Spain is by offering private English classes, or clases particulares as the Spaniards call them. This will make you more money than almost any other side job you have the luck of finding. But, as with any service you offer, it is essential to know how to connect with potential clients and market your services.

When I first arrived I had no idea how to find students. I was lucky to meet some veterans of the program who gave me some great advice and I had also just completed a TESOL course from SIT prior to arriving in Spain that really boosted my confidence in teaching. Before long I was swimming in clients, working too much, and eventually had to give away or refuse new students. Here I’ve summarized my advice for giving private classes in Spain. Hope it helps!

1. Decide what types of classes you will offer. Conversation? Grammar? Test Preparation? Business English? What do you know how to teach? If you haven’t studied grammar for years, perhaps you shouldn’t offer grammar classes right away. If you’ve never heard of the First Certificate don’t accept a student who needs help preparing for it! You will be doing your students a disservice and I believe it is unethical. Be honest with yourself and if you only want to offer conversation classes or pronunciation correction at the beginning make that clear to your students.

2. Sell yourself! There is a large demand for private English classes in Spain but no one can find you if you don’t advertise your services. Place advertisements on popular Spanish websites like loquo and mundoanuncio. They should introduce you and describe your experience and geographical availability. Don’t offer to give classes too far outside of your neighborhood because you will lose half of your pay in transportation and lost time. Remember that if you include your phone number people will call you… at all times of the day and they’ll start speaking to you in very fast Spanish. If your Spanish isn’t up to par consider including an email contact only. In addition to advertising on websites you should print out flyers to post around your neighborhood and at nearby universities, libraries, etc. It sounds a bit old fashioned but I got at least half of my students this way, and they all lived close by since I only put the flyers in my neighborhood!

*** I will send a copy of my own fantastic flyer to all who subscribe to Spanish Sabores this week (and if you’ve already subscribed just let me know that you want a copy of my template in the comments below!) ***

3. Screen potential students. This is important. If someone sounds very strange by phone or email they probably are. Use caution when agreeing to meet someone for the first time and don’t meet at their home unless you are positive of their identity and reputation. I usually meet my students in a café for the first class but then I do give the majority of my classes in the student’s home. I still think that it is risky that way, but my roommates, boyfriend, etc. always know where I am and when I should be home. If you start classes with someone and you just don’t feel comfortable, apologize and explain that you’d be happy to recommend another teacher. There is no reason to suffer when you are your own boss!

4. Network with past and current auxiliars in your city. Like I said previously, I had so many classes at some points that I had to give them away. I searched for willing teachers on facebook or through friends. I also got many offers from friends who couldn’t give a class or who had moved out of Seville and had a student to pass on. These classes are usually great because you know what to expect of the student, what they were already paying, and their level of English based on what their previous teacher tells you.

The first year I networked with many other auxiliars-- it was fun!

5. Know what to charge and be firm with your price. Ask other teachers in your city what they charge to get a general idea of what people in your region are willing to pay. Then, evaluate yourself as a teacher. Are you TESOL certified? Did you study English or Education in college? Are you a super talented teacher? Only you can self-assess yourself and put a price on your time. But don’t undercharge just to get some students quickly. Most people understand that price reflects quality and having 2 good students at 20€/hour is much better than 4 flaky students at 10€/hr. People will always try to negotiate with you, but stay strong and don’t sell yourself short; students will come eventually!

6. Don’t become a workaholic. Soon enough your afternoons will be filled with private classes and your 700€ will become 1200€ in a flash. It’s tempting to keep accepting classes, but remember that you are abroad to enjoy the experience too. Having money is great, but if you don’t have the time to take a flamenco class or go to a concert it’s not worth it. Leave yourself some free evenings and have a clear cancellation and make up policy with your students.

7. Embrace a relationship with your students but don’t become unprofessional. Some of my students have become great friends and others are like family. I’ve been invited to Christmas dinners and been given movie tickets and bottles of wine. You should embrace having a good relationship with students, as they provide a real glimpse at Spanish life and can offer you advice, experiences, and connections that you wouldn’t otherwise have. But be careful of becoming unprofessional. Class time should be serious and a friendship shouldn’t mean that a student starts canceling whenever they want or that you do the same. If you get to a point where class time isn’t spent on anything productive you have a responsibility to end the professional relationship and just stay friends.

Hopefully this helps everyone who would like to teach private classes this year. I honestly think that they are a great experience for teaching, getting to know Spanish culture, and meeting some interesting people. Does anyone have any personal advice to add? Or maybe a funny story about a past student (no names!)?

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18 Responses to “How To Make Extra Money While Living In Spain: 7 Tips For Giving Private Classes”

  1. Sunshine and Siestas September 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Excellent advice, Lauren! I think it is SERIOUSLY important (after giving lessons for four years) to be very clear on your cancellation policy, and charge if necessary. It’s a hard pill to swallow, sometimes. I had a Brazilian student who famously cancelled on me when I was waiting for her outside the university. She had sent me a message after I’d already left home telling me she’d decided to go to lunch with some of her classmates. I waited outside until she passed and, since she was going to be moving shortly to America, told her that any last-minute cancellations in the US would result in her having to cough up the money. I told her it was the first and last time I’d let it happen, and she told me this knowledge helped her tremendously in the US!

    And, for real, don’t let your quest for becoming the richest auxiliar get in the way of enjoying what you came for – la vida espanola!!

  2. roamingtheworld September 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for another great post. This will be very helpful when I decide to give private classes on the side. I would love to see your template. I think I’ve subscribed but i haven’t yet received any emails so I’ll try again now.

    Good luck with your move to Madrid. Believing everything will work out, is the first step in making it happen. Best wishes to you.

  3. ljeeves September 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    This is awesome! Thanks so much for the heads up! Going to be a first year Auxiliar in a few weeks in Malaga and definitely will use these tips when starting clases particulares!

  4. Cathy September 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Muchisimas gracias!! 🙂

  5. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] September 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    I got a lot of responses from tusclasesparticulares, just FYI!

  6. Rosana Jenson September 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I would love to take a looksie at your flyer template!
    rosanajenson@hotmail.com

    gracias chicas! 🙂

  7. Liz September 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Good post Lauren. Networking with other auxiliars is definitely a good idea. I got 7 hours just from someone who was here last year and not returning. And tusclasesparticulares.com is awesome too, I have to turn people down from offers I get from there.

    Also, teachers at your school are a good resource too. Last year, I would give conversation to teachers during my off hours. It was great, because I wouldn’t have been doing anything during that time anyways.

    Also, with the cancellation thing, if you can get people to pay for the week or month in advanced, 1) You have the money in case they cancel and 2) They’re less likely to cancel on you if they already paid.

  8. Lauren D September 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Thank you so much for this wonderful advice! I am going to be a first year auxiliar and this will help me out very much! Could you please send me the template you used for your flyer? Thanks again!

  9. Erica September 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Hi Lauren! I really appreciate your post and I love your blog. It’s very informative and I love your writing style. I am about to move to Los Pedroches region in Northern Cordoba province, and I’m hoping there’s a venue for teaching English classes.

    I would love a copy of your flyer. I subscribed a few weeks ago. 🙂

  10. Kenya September 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Thanks for the advice! I actually fly out to Spain tomorrow 🙂 I’ll be in Malaga and I’ve been thinking about posting flyers to advertise clases particulares, so I just subscribed and I’d love to see your template!

  11. Cassandra Rodriguez September 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Hey Lauren!! great advice! I would love to see your template and subscribe but I don’t know how to :/ I looked for it but no luck!

  12. Kirsten Kampe September 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Oh my goodness you are always so helpful THANK YOU!!!! 🙂 I would love to see your template also…I’m leaving for Madrid tomorrow morning-WOOHOO!!

    Thanks again, I always get excited to see your new posts.
    Here is my email: kkboulder@comcast.net

    Kirsten

  13. Katie September 21, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    I’d love to take a look at your flyer too! I’m actually in need of one here in Valladolid (where I haven’t found one single American ex-pat) My Spanish isn’t quite up to par yet so it would be a great help. I just subscribed, but I blog over on Blogger.

    Thank you!

    kathryn.tyser@gmail.com

    http://rockmejefftweedy.blogspot.com/

  14. Kirstie September 23, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    Thanks for this post! Super useful! I’m looking forward to giving clases particulares when I arrive!

  15. Fritz October 2, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Hi Lauren,

    May I get a copy of your flier template too please? I’m designing one now for my neighborhood in Sevilla.

    Thanks,

    Fritz

  16. Rebecca October 14, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Hi Lauren,
    Could you send me a copy of your flyer?

    I started the farthest back in your blog history and I’m excited to keep reading the rest of your posts!

    • Lauren October 14, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      I’m glad you find them helpful! I sent you the flyer, hope it helps!

      • jenn2346 October 19, 2011 at 10:57 am #

        Lauren,
        Could you please send me a copy? Love all of the advice…huge help!

        gatwood.1@gmail.com

        Thanks!

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