Over at Money Saving Mom, Crystal asked us to write about ways that we make extra side income. In our home, we have chosen to use our experience with the ESL (English as a Second Language) community as a way to bring in some extra money.
When we were first married, we spent a year living in Japan, while both teaching ESL. Our main purpose was to pay off my university student loans (from a private Christian university- yikes!) while having a bit of an adventure. It was certainly an adventure (in many ways, both good and bad), an extreme learning experience, and also left me with a few extra skills that I could make use of as a new, stay-at-home Mom.
Having said that, I must add that it is not necessary to have official ESL teaching experience to do this yourself! The main qualities necessary are: a love for people, an interest in different cultures, an affinity for making conversation (ahhh, my favorite aspect of teaching!), and a good grasp of the English language (by this I mean that you should be able to edit a simple writing assignment, have a basic understanding of grammar , and be able to listen carefully and offer constructive suggestions for structuring sentences).
So, here are two of the many ways that money can be made in this area:
1) Homestay students – hosting a homestay student (which is a student who is visiting from another country and wishes to live with a Canadian or American family, rather than stay in a hotel) can be a very rich experience. It generally requires having a bedroom for the student to stay in (if you don’t have a regular guest room, you can convert an office into a bedroom for the duration of their stay, or have your baby or toddler stay in your room, etc.), and the room needs to have a dresser or closet, some type of desk, and a single bed with bedding. Other than that, you are expected to provide homecooked meals, and bagged lunches (if your student is taking part in English school classes during the day, as most students are). Homestays can last anywhere from 1 week to 1 year. The pay is usually around $25-35 a night, or sometimes it is done per week or per month (around $400-800 can be common for monthly pay), and out of this you must pay for the extra food that the student requires.
In general, homestays have been an excellent experience for us. We have had 4 different students stay with us over the past 3 years. The shortest was for 1 week, the longest was for 1 1/2 months. We have often been sad to see our student leave (yes, I said often- I’m being honest here! Once, we weren’t so sad!).
My only caveat in promoting homestays is that you need to be very aware of what would be an appropriate choice of student for your family situation. As I am home all day with our children (one of whom is a young girl), and my husband is away at work, we do not accept male students. We sometimes have to turn down offers of students, but this is the only way that we feel comfortable taking someone into our home, based on the season of life that we are in.
Finding homestay students is usually quite easy, as both Canada and the US (also the UK and Australia and NZ) are very popular destinations. I would suggest both googling and looking up “esl” and “homestay” and “English schools” in your area, and you will likely come up with a number of places to call and ask whether they are looking for homestay families.
2) Tutoring ESL students– For us, this has happened in two different ways. The first is that I have taken on students who come to my house for 1 -2 hours per week, and we sit down and have conversation together, or I help them to study a textbook or to work on particular English skills. For this, I charge by the hour and depending on your experience (this could be any education or teaching/tutoring experience), the going rates are generally between $15-30 per hour (at least, in Canada). Personally, with my specific experience and having taken an ESL teaching course, I am able to charge $20-25.
This worked well for us when I was first at home with our baby daughter. I tried to arrange my tutoring times during her naps, and if she happened to wake up, I just became adept at discreetly nursing or snuggling her while I continued to tutor.
Students can often be found by putting up a notice with your credentials and phone number on a bulletin board, often at a library or community center. Once you get one or two students, word of mouth goes a long way towards creating a constant stream of tutoring prospects.
The second way that I have tutored from home is in the form of homeschool-style tutoring. A friend connected me with a group that brings in elementary school aged children from Korea, and places them for 1-4 weeks with homeschooling families. The children are with me from about 9am-3pm every weekday, and I provide them with 3 hours of schooling, as well as a homecooked lunch.
I have done this 3 times, choosing only to take girls between the ages of 8-12, and have had so much fun doing it! We read classic novels, write stories and poems, create journals and scrapbooks, cook and bake, do science experiments and sometimes go on field trips. They love to play with my little ones, and I am always sad to say good-bye when our time comes to an end.
I have usually received about $200-350 a week for this type of tutoring, and it is actually not as much work as it sounds like. I can often get them going on a project and then go about my daily cleaning and housekeeping tasks, only stopping to assist them with something. Sometimes I even get more done because they love to help me in the kitchen and keep my babies occupied! :)
Again, to find tutoring students, I would try calling around to any ESL schools or organizations, asking if they do (or know of someone who does) this type of program.
Although I am taking these jobs less and less, as I want to devote my extra time to other projects, such as my website and blog, they can occasionally still be a good short-term thing for us to do. Just last month we took a 27 year old Japanese female student for two weeks. She was both a homestay student and a tutoring student at the same time (which meant it was more money, although it was an more intense two week period for us). The two weeks of busyness was worth it, though, because with the $1100 we earned, we were able to purchase a new iMac for my website, as well as put some money towards a family vacation! That works for me!