So You Want to Teach French Online? Use These 4 Essential Tips and Our Recommended Teaching Platforms to Start Today!
Want a job that can be done in the comfort of your own home?
Teaching French online can be a fun and financially rewarding experience.
Using modern technology tools, you can connect with motivated French learners all over the world.
If you’re used to teaching French in a classroom, though, there are some adjustments you’ll have to make to your teaching style.
Here you’ll find four top tips for successfully teaching private French lessons online, plus the best online teaching platforms available today.
The Benefits of Teaching French Online
- It’s a flexible gig. You can set your own schedule and work as often (or as little) as you want, plus as late (or as early) as you want, any time of the year. If you’re looking to generate extra income without compromising your work-life balance, this is the way to go! Better yet, you won’t waste any time in traffic or long commutes to the office.
- It’s helpful and interesting. Teaching French online can be an incredibly enriching experience, and it is a great way to build meaningful relationships with people who share a similar interest in the French language. It can be an awesome opportunity to reach students from all over the world and learn about their cultures.
- It’s inexpensive to start. There’s little overhead, so you won’t have to invest too much to get your online private tutoring business up and rolling. Little equipment is needed as long as you have a working computer with webcam and microphone, a reliable Internet connection and a headset.
Considerations Before You Teach French Online
Teaching French online can be very lucrative. Start by finding a platform that works for you and take the time to really work on your profile. Make it shine! It can make the difference between a student asking for your services or not. Include a friendly picture, details about yourself and teaching experience, what to expect during lessons, location and time zone, and general availabilities.
A common mistake that first-time online teachers make is to spread themselves too thin and sign up for too many different platforms. Yet, it’s best to concentrate your efforts on sites with strong visibility and that can send you real business. Also, it’s a good idea to compare the terms of services before deciding on a platform. Make sure that you have reviewed that information and that you fully understand all the elements that come from your involvement.
Common factors that can help you decide on whether or not a platform is good for you include site exposure (the number of students that come to a site; its overall reputation and rank on Google search), competition (how many teachers with comparable skills are on the site), level of protection offered (how does the site protect teachers to make sure that all lessons taken are paid for) and payment terms (what kind of fees are you charged for using the platform; who is responsible for the fee).
Where to Teach French Online
Teaching platform: Varsity Tutors
Varsity Tutors connects you to students in your area and also offers online face-to-face tutoring, expanding your reach to students living across the United States. It’s up to you to decide which location you’re most comfortable with, or if you prefer to keep your classes strictly online.
To teach on their platform, you must apply and pass a rigorous skills-based test and a background check. They also encourage tutors to use their own personal lesson plans and curriculum, so you may want to start creating materials that can differentiate you from other online teachers and will provide a unique, fun experience for your students.
If you join Varsity Tutor, you will be asked to sign a private contractor agreement. Tutors typically earn $20 an hour, with rates ranging between $15-30 an hour.
Teaching platform: Skype
If you’re a native French speaker, you might want to consider Lingoda to sell your services. The platform is popular with students from all over the world and from all walks of life, which is a plus if you’re looking for a stimulating teaching experience.
Lessons are held exclusively online through virtual classrooms and Skype. Lingoda also offers classes 24/7, which allows you to set a flexible schedule and organize your workload more efficiently.
Lingoda offers their tutors a standard rate of €8.50 an hour (~$9.59 an hour).
Teaching platform: Google Hangouts
If your goal is to reach out a vast community of students, you’ll love Verbling. The platform works as a reputation-building tool, ideal if you’re also interested in gaining followers while building your brand and identity.
To get started, submit your teaching application. You don’t have to be a native French speaker to teach on Verbling, but a high level of proficiency and teaching experience is strongly recommended. You can teach as many hours as you want on the platform, ideal if your goal is to turn this into a full-time job.
In terms of compensation, you’re in full control! Verbling lets you set your own hourly rates and cash out your earnings anytime you want via PayPal or Skrill. Be sure to review your competition thoroughly to see what’s the best possible amount to charge for your lessons.
Teaching platform: Skype
Verbal Planet connects you with students from all over the world. The site is completely free to use for teachers, and there are no membership fees or commissions associated from using the service.
To help you manage your classes, Verbal Planet offers tools to better support your students’ progress, including scheduling, online feedback and payment processing.
You’re able to offer free introductory classes, but can set your own rates individually. Payments are made by PayPal exclusively, so check that you’re able to create an account in your country. You must be approved prior to listing your services on Verbal Planet by showing relevant qualifications and experience.
Teaching platform: Skype
Italki is a teacher’s marketplace that helps you overcome the physical boundaries of traditional language schools. It’s a solid platform to offer your one-on-one online French tutoring services. Their community boasts over 2 million students and 1,000 language teachers, making it the platform of choice for you. If you’re a native or advanced (C2) French speaker, this may be a good option.
Lessons are taught via Skype or your preferred video chat software. You’re responsible for creating your own lesson plans, so be sure to customize them based on each student’s level of fluency and interests.
Teaching on Italki is free, but the site takes a 15% commission on all lessons you teach. The site uses their own Italki Talking Currency to book lessons; students pay for credits and transfer them to you when they confirm a lesson. To receive your funds, you should submit a withdrawal request. It’s up to you to set your own prices and find your students, so be sure to create a compelling profile to stand out from the competition!
Google Hangouts / Skype
You may be familiar with these two popular global conferencing platforms and might already use them personally. We recommend either of these tools if you’re looking to teach lessons on your own, without a middle man to collect a cut of each lesson.
These tools incorporate a wealth of features to make your online classes more interactive and efficient, including group calls, messaging and file sharing. Both are high quality and enhance productivity, but it’s up to you to decide which one works best for you.
Google Hangouts lets you conference in up to 10 users for free (15 if you have a Google+ Premium account). Skype, however, only offers group videoconferencing as a paid feature.
You may also prefer Google Hangouts if you use Google Docs intensively during your classes, since the services are integrated, which makes it easier to edit and discuss documents in real time. Google Hangouts is also free to use when you call landlines in the U.S. and Canada, while you have to pay for that service with Skype unless you subscribe to an unlimited international calling plan.
If you’re calling a phone number instead of having a video chat with another device, both services let you keep your phone number private, but the way they do this differs. Skype gives you the option to purchase a phone number for $5 per month, while you will be required to create and use a free Google Voice phone number with Hangouts.
Keep in mind that these are video chatting platforms, not marketplaces. If you’re using these tools, be sure to advertise your services on popular classifieds or freelancer sites, such as Craigslist or Upwork. Place an ad on these services and be proactive: Use the sites’ search features to find ads from students looking for a French tutor in your area or remotely. Write a catchy reply and save it as template; you might want to reuse it to answer similar ads going forward.
4 Insider Tips for Successfully Teaching French Online from Home
Teaching via video in real time is quite different from teaching a classroom of students, or even from teaching one-on-one classes in person. Here are some teaching ideas and tips for to help you ace your online French classes.
1. Design a curriculum that works for the online environment
Reshape your lesson plans to make them fit for virtual classroom. The content should be the same, but the delivery method is different. You should be mindful of the specificities and limitations of teaching online. That’s especially the case for project-based learning.
- Suggest “try it yourself” projects. You might not be able to go with a private student to visit a French bakery, but don’t ditch these ideas altogether. Adapt them by making them “extracurricular activities” or “try it yourself” projects.
If it fits with your student’s learning goals, identify a few interesting activities or projects that they can do at home. If you know where they live, look up for a good French bakery and ask them to try a croissant. Alternatively, see if there’s an exhibition worth going to, and give your student concrete ideas and a few options so that they can experience it as if you were there. Circle back in your next lesson and use it as an discussion opportunity. Ask your student to recap what they did, their impressions, and to compare with you what they know.
- Be mindful of the challenges of teaching virtually. Online classes add a level of difficulty that you won’t encounter offline. Like speaking over the phone, conversation tends to be more difficult to understand for some students. When you practice conversation, do your best to address this inefficiency. Speak slowly, repeat yourself and even write difficult words using chat messaging features if necessary.
At the end of your class, go over the difficult words and expressions you have encountered. Ask your students to use each word in a sentence and circle back by sending students a recap list featuring this session’s vocabulary with examples at the end of the class.
- Play an observation game. Here’s a fun game to make vocabulary acquisition more memorable and effective. Prepare your lesson by gathering several objects and arranging them so your students will see them in your video frame. It can be anything from flowers to a teddy bear, a picture, your computer, a phone or a sandwich. Blend them into your environment, and tell your student that during your hourly session, you will mention these objects in your conversation.
For example, you may randomly will say: “Paul aime manger des sandwiches” (Paul likes to eat sandwiches). Their goal is to stop you immediately once they notice the word, and say: “sandwich!” Keep track of their score and make it competitive. During your next session, bring new objects and see how many they can identify.
2. Make classes more efficient
It goes without saying, but preparing your classes goes a long way! Write a curriculum outlining your upcoming lessons and detailing what each lesson includes. Convert your outlines into pdfs and share them with your students before your sessions.
Be especially mindful of the overview, lesson objectives, essential skills and required readings sections: Your students will need to prepare ahead of time. Make yourself available if they have any questions, but don’t overwhelm yourself. They should be designed in such a way that your students can understand the information easily (and be excited about the lesson).
Here are some online tools that make classes more efficient:
- Reading online. If your lessons incorporate a lot of readings, use online reading libraries such as Lire en ligne. The site gives you and your students free access to a vast database of books and audiobooks in French, including novels, poems, essays and more.
- Email reminders. You may also want to send various email reminders before your classes, such as schedule reminders to notify your students about upcoming classes to make sure that they haven’t forgotten about the sessions. Alternatively, send calendar invites on Setmore, which integrates with iPhone or Android.
- Audio reminders. Better yet, use interactive audio reminders with Audioboom. This free audio file sharing program lets you create and send 3-minute voice broadcasts to your students from your iPhone or Android smartphone. This can be a clever way to give them a heads up about your next classes, but also ask them to prepare for your lessons. For example, use it to send friendly notifications about the essential points you’ll go over and hints and tips for upcoming assignments.
- Collecting payments. Last, don’t be bashful about sending reminders about payment. It’s totally up to you to decide on terms, and whether you want to be paid upfront or after a class. Alternatively, use PayPal’s “request a payment” feature to make it convenient for your students to wire you funds in the click of a button.
3. Use interactive teaching tools
Distance learning solutions are rapidly growing in popularity with teachers for one reason: They do a great job of making virtual classes more efficient. Many fantastic tools exist but aren’t necessary for one-on-one online classes, so keep things simple if you can. For most online teachers, you will find that Skype and Google Hangouts are more than enough to keep your lessons lively and efficient.
If you’re looking to step things up a notch and create memorable online sessions, it may be a good idea to incorporate interactive technology into your lessons. Opt for all-in-one integrated teaching software that will both enchant your students, but are also easy to use.
- E-lecta. Try the E-lecta teaching software to make your classes more efficient and fun. Among their many features, this high quality software incorporates a digital teaching whiteboard that you can write on and erase in real time, perfect to recreate the feeling of a classroom.
Beyond that, E-lecta lets you effortlessly host and organize web-based meetings, so you don’t have to use too many different programs. It also provides a set of online collaboration tools so you can share desktop screens. It’s free for two weeks, with monthly plans starting at $19.99 for up to 25 attendees per class.
- TakeLessons for Teachers. Alternatively, use digital classroom management apps to stay on top of your private online French lessons. The TakeLessons for teachers app lets you manage and market your teaching business in one place. Track your students’ attendance, payments and keep their contact info handy. Manage your schedule, communicate with your students by giving them comments on a lesson, sending them welcome emails, receive alerts if they cancel, and even browse available teaching opportunities within the TakeLessons marketplace.
4. Make homework work for you
A critical element of French online tutoring is to motivate students and help them achieve desired results.
Here are some tools to help you give appropriate homework:
- FluentU. Encourage your students to watch authentic French videos to stimulate their listening skills and overall comprehension of the French language and culture.FluentU features a vast library of native content with interactive subtitles to help your students achieve fluency quickly. Available on mobile or desktop, the solution lets you choose from entertaining French videos based on level of fluency, topics and even the grammar functions you’re targeting.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
To get started, sign up for the 15-day free trial and browse FluentU’s selection of videos. You can assign your favorite content to your students using the “share” feature. To maximize outcomes, make sure that your students watch at least one short video every other day. The goal is to help create full immersion using online tools while having fun.
- 1 Jour 1 Actu. You could also send them authentic French news articles to target their reading. 1 Jour 1 Actu offers approachable news articles, comics and in-depth content about news topics in French. The site is suitable for French children, so you can be sure that your students will not be overwhelmed with material that’s too difficult to understand.
No registration is needed and the site lets you easily share any article with your students. Better yet, each article features a “Word of the Day” with explanations in French, perfect to help your students expand their vocabulary.
Don’t overwhelm your students with reading homework and stick to one article assignment, which you can then use to support discussions in your next class. Start the following session by asking your students to summarize the article they read using key vocabulary and elements from the article, and to give you their opinion about the topic.
- Classmarker. If you want to bring more structure to your classes, you could also give personalized tests and use grading and assessment systems. Use Classmarker to create and send your own tests and quizzes that your students can easily take online. While the tool is not free, it adds interactivity, professionalism and convenience to your lessons.
- Quizstar. Alternatively, try Quizstar to create and assign online quizzes to your students. The site lets you manage your classes, design exams and even attach multimedia content into your quizzes. Students can review their answers and get detailed insights into their wrong answers after they’ve taken the quizzes as well, perfect to help them stay on track and motivated. It’s free to use, but keep in mind that the site does display advertising.
- Typeform. Another free option with lots of flexibility is Typeform. It’s very simple to use, and there are tons of ways you could use this intuitive tool to enhance your lessons!
No matter the platform, keep it simple and targeted. You should design brief multiple choice quizzes to recap the elements you have viewed in class. Send them at the end of the class, and give your students flexibility to take them anytime they want, but before your next class. The idea is to keep things fresh in your students mind and help you identify whether a point has been fully assimilated before you move on to another subject.
- Google Drive. If you plan on using essays as homework and assignments, opt for Word or Google Drive. Both allow you to insert your own comments alongside the paper, and are fairly accommodating and intuitive.
Alternatively, if you prefer manual grading, then print papers, write your notes and scan them back. Make sure that feedback is timely if assessments are regular, and make yourself available online for additional feedback if necessary.
With these tips and teaching platforms, you’re now ready to get started. Don’t forget to have a good time!