Disclaimer: I cannot swear that this advice is true for the entirety of Spain. People who’ve taught in Andalucia, Madrid, etc are more than welcome to weigh in with your experiences!
As my post on prices for clases particulares has received some attention over the last couple of days, I decided to answer a similar question that seems to puzzle many of my ex-pat, auxiliar, or Erasmus friends: How do I find private classes?
Well man, this is Spain. The demand for native English teachers is sky-high (though this doesn’t always translate to high payments). Once you figure out a few tricks, you’ll be tripping over class offers.
Find The Website
This one is highly important. You can post ads all day long, but if no one is reading them you won’t get any work! So…The Website.
No matter where in Spain you are, there is always a Website. You need to find it as soon as possible. The Website is the Spanish Craigslist, that is to say, the default search site whenever people want anything–used electronics, furniture, housing, and yes, private classes. However, in Spain the Website varies from town to town. So, find it–best accomplished by asking around and determining which site is recommended most often.
The best Santiago site is the University message board: http://xornal.usc.es/xornal/taboleiro.html
it’s great for finding private lessons, as well as housing offers!
The Spanish streets are covered with paper ads, for everything from dog walking to cleaning ladies. If you print out your ad and tape it to a light pole, chances are good that many potential students will see it.
However, you can’t paper the entire city with ads–well you can but, hey, waste of paper and energy. Which is why I recommend chosing a few good locations to post your ads. And no, the light pole next to Doner Kebab isn’t the best choice. Drunks with the munchies rarely think about private classes.
Pick places that have regular traffic from people who are likely to be your potential students. Next to a school, university campus, library, or popular playground are all good choices. I personally recommend looking for bulletin boards within these places–if people are actively looking at ads they aren’t as likely to rip pieces off of yours just for funnsies. Also, find the Oficina de Joventud in your area. Not only can you buy a Carnet Joven (under 26) for all sorts of fantastic discounts, but the Oficina hosts a ton of youth programs that draw your perfect employers–parents who want their kids to be involved in a variety of activities and are willing to pay for it! I found several good classes through a single ad in my Oficina de Joventud.
And now we come to the easiest one of all…
Word of Mouth
“Jeannette, can I give your number to my friend/cousin/neighbor? She wants English classes too.”
How many times has this happened to me? I dunno, I stopped counting last year.
But I have found my most stable and best-paying jobs through simple word of mouth. This is Spain people. Everything is done by personal recommedation.
Now, if you don’t feel like waiting for people to offer recommendations, I suggest a very simple script:
“Soy profesor/a de inglés y doy clases particulares.”
(I’m an English teacher and I give private classes.)
Say this to everyone: coworkers, roommates, chatty bartenders. Trust me, half of them will excitedly ask for your number, wanting to pass it off to X friend or colleague who’s studying English. (Yeah, many of these will never actually call you, but hey that’s advertising).
This is how I find more work than I know what to do with. Anyone have something to add?