How to Teach Languages Online: The Conversational Teacher Method

In this post I'm laying out all the steps of my conversational teacher method, where anyone can make money online by tutoring people over Skype or Zoom.

You don’t need any diplomas, degrees, or certificates to do any of these (although having any of them can be a definite plus.)

You might say, but Kris, I don’t speak any languages to a high enough level!

Nonsense! 

We all have at least one native language – right?

And I think it’s reasonably fair to say that there are people interested in learning your language.

Take Danish for example – my native language.

With only 6 million native speakers, it’s a relatively small language.

Yet, there are still thousands of learners who get involved in Danish in one level or another:

  • Business learners (for Lego, Maersk, Vestas, or any other big Danish company) 
  • Partners of Danish Citizens
  • Heritage learners from abroad
  • Casual hobby learners
  • Scandinaviaphiles (is that even a word?)

If you speak English, Spanish, or French – well, then you’re in luck,

There are literally millions of learners waiting for you out there.

So, without further ado here's a quick overview of the first way to make money with language skills online.

The Conversational Teacher Metod

This is an awesome method for several reasons:

  • You get paid immediately upfront, so you don’t have to wait for a website to grow, or a YouTube channel to gain traction.
  • You just need to speak one language really well (+some English if your first language isn’t English!)
  • There is a lot of growth possible with this method, where you can eventually reduce your hours worked for delivering lessons passively or automated via software.
  • It’s hyper flexible. You set your own hours, and how much you want to do.

By the end of this post I hope to have answered the question: “How do I become an online language tutor?”

Let's dive in!

Table of Contents

Step 1 – The minimum equipment you'll need and where to get it

There are a few things you will need in order to increase your chances of success with this method.

Here's the list:

  1. Laptop or desktop computer
  2. Fast and stable internet connection (preferably wired)
  3. Good webcam and headset
  4. Some free time on a weekly basis with relatively quiet surroundings
  5. Willingness to learn and improve

Let's go a bit deeper into each one of these steps.

Laptop or Desktop Computer

Some people might think that a phone or a tablet would be adequate for this, and it might be able to work in a pinch.

But, I fully recommend a proper computer that you can use to type notes during the lesson with the students. This offers the best experience.

Fast and Stable Internet Connection

Because the lessons are via video, it's crucial that you have a stable and fast internet connection capable of streaming high quality video.

As a rule of thumb I would aim for better than 20 mbps download, and 10mbps upload.

It's also preferable to use a wired connection straight from the router into your computer (if your computer supports this) as this reduces the lag and instability wifi sometimes creates.

Good webcam and headset

The quality of your video and audio will be highly appreciated by students, so you need to have a good webcam and a good headset (or external microphone)

For the webcam I recommend the Logitech C920 series, and for headsets there’s a million options, these for about $30 have great reviews

Or just use your earbuds from your phone, many brands do just fine.

Having great and stable lesson quality will help you stand out from other teachers, and receive great reviews from the students you have.

Some free time on a weekly basis with relatively quiet surroundings

This method is quite flexible, in that you can chose how much you want to work.

The more availability you have, the easier it might be to find students as they have more choices to pick from.

It's also important that you have a quiet location to do the lessons from, without noisy traffic, screaming kids, or any other noises.

You won't get repeat students if that's the case..

Willingness to learn and improve

This is a big one.

Nobody started on italki making $50 an hour right off the bat.

No, it takes time to get better, and perfect your craft.

If you take a lazy approach, show up late for lessons, don't put in any energy or effort to improve then you will not retain students and you are unlikely to ever raise your prices.

So, have an open mind and be willing to improve and develop yourself as a teacher.

Step 2 – Create your online teacher profile on italki

Register on italki as a teacher