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How Should I Gain Experience as a Beginner Teacher with no Students?

Emily Smith

So, you’ve heard that you can make extra income or perhaps even make living teaching students how to speak your native language or the language you speak fluently. That’s true. Every language you speak fluently is an asset to you; chances are that someone wants to learn how to speak it. But just because you speak a language that people want to learn how to speak, doesn’t mean that you are a natural born teacher. Teaching is a skill and not everyone has it. But don’t worry; even if you weren’t born a gifted teacher, gaining experience will help you to be a better one. But how do you gain experience if you don’t have any students?

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Teach Free Classes- As a new teacher, you have to realize that every student you teach offers you an invaluable service; they are there to help you learn how to be a teacher. While you are starting out, you can offer one or more free sessions with your students. If your subject matter is in high demand or there is a dearth of people qualified to teach the language, then you won’t have any problem finding students ready to take free classes.

Finding new students is not as difficult as it may seem at first. You can start looking for new students by tapping into your personal network. Make a post on Facebook or simply mention it in conversation. Even if your friends aren’t interested in becoming a student they may have a relative or friend who is. You can also find students by striking up a conversation with people you may not know. This works well in bookstores, subways and coffee shops. It may seem daunting to talk to strike up a conversation with strangers, but often times they’ll be more receptive than you can imagine. You can also advertise your services in your building or neighborhood newsletter if you have one. Many times people in your own area are the most likely to become long term students.

Volunteer- Besides offering free classes to potential clients, you can also gain experience as a language teacher by becoming a volunteer. You can volunteer at a local school or non-profit organization that works with kids. While this may not land you permanent clients, it will help you get experience. When you volunteer, there is a lot of opportunity to try different teaching techniques and see how they work in a classroom setting.

Every language you speak fluently is an asset to you; chances are that someone wants to learn how to speak it.

Shadow a Teacher- If you know anyone else who is a teacher, ask if you can tag along for some of his/her classes. Learning from another teacher will help you get real-world experience without having to bear the full responsibility of teaching the class. After class, ask the teacher for some tips which he/she feels will help you be a better teacher. After you feel comfortable, you can even ask your friend if you can lead the class. Then he/she can give you feedback about your performance as a teacher.

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Teaching Online Classes- Starting off with online classes is a good first step for many novice teachers. There are some sites that are always looking for online teachers and many times you don’t need experience to start. By teaching online, you will become familiar with teaching one-on-one classes. Many online language sites offer classes to a wide age range of students. By teaching students of different ages you will also see which age you enjoy teaching the most.

YouTube Teaching Videos- There are many videos about teaching methods on sites such as YouTube that can help you become a better teacher. While this will not give you “experience”, it will give you knowledge that will help you prepare to be a better teacher once you do enter the classroom.

Make a Video of Yourself Teaching- Prepare a sample lesson and then set up your DSLR or phone on video record. After you are done, play the video back. When you watch yourself teach you are often able to see your own strengths and weaknesses and critically assess your teaching. Self assessment will help you become a more confident and better prepared teacher.

These are just a few ways to help you kick start your career as a teacher. The best way to truly gain experience, however, is to just dive right in! Do you have other ideas to help new teachers gain experience? Tell us your ideas and share your stories so that we can all help each other become better, more experienced teachers.

About the author

Emily has taught English to ESL learners in four Asian countries. Although she taught students from 3-60, she has a definite affection for preschoolers and college students. She has also worked as an ESL curriculum writer and is TESOL certified. When she is not teaching, she loves watching and making films.