Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bad Business, Good Education

by AJ

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I'm a terrible businessman. I admit it. As I build my freelance teaching business, I'm doing everything wrong.

If I was a good businessman, I would aggressively seek students.

If I was a good businessman, I would claim to have a "secret" curriculum that no one else knows.

If I was a good businessman, I would teach larger classes in order to maximize profits.

If I was a good businessman, I wouldn't tell potential students that they can join a great system at The Linguist, for only $35 a month, or learn from ESLPod for free.

If I was a good businessman, I would radiate all-knowing authority.

If I was a good businessman, I would try to keep students dependent on me so they would need me (and pay me) for a very long time.

But I'm not a good businessman. I love learning, I love teaching, and I want students to succeed as quickly as possible. I do not want them to depend on me. I charge a lot of money, but I don't want them to be stuck paying me for a long time. My number one goal is to push them towards autonomy as quickly as possible.

Despite my constant recommendations for The Linguist, I realize that many students want or need a face to face coach. Others need a very personal relationship, in person or online. They need that direct human contact. They need that guidance. They need the support and encouragement, at least for a while.

New students often come to me with the expectation that I will "teach them English". But that is not my goal. My goal is to teach them how to teach themselves, to teach them enjoyable and effective learning methods, to help them design their own learning plan, and (most importantly) to build their confidence.

Like any coach, I recognize that in the end, they are the one's who must perform. THEY have to put in the hours of listening. THEY have to put in the hours of reading. THEY have to put in the hours of review. THEY have to seek out situations in which they can communicate in English.

I can help them develop a plan. I can recommend a training routine. I can inspire, encourage, and extol them to excel. I can do all the things that good coaches do.

But I can't learn the language for them. Like any good coach, I want them to grow more independent. I want them to take charge and develop their autonomy and their own leadership.

My goal is to be the kind of teacher I would want for myself. That's good education. But its not good business.

San Francisco, CA