Thursday, April 5, 2007

Meeting Locations for Lessons

As a private ESL tutor, I get to choose the location to meet my students and hold my lessons. I have been meeting my students at a local café for over two years. On any given day, I may teach ESL lessons for up to 4 ½ hours. Fortunately, the café owners and workers don’t mind my holding a table for so long. Of course, I buy something every couple of hours, and most of my students also buy drinks.

This particular café is close to a major university, so there are lots of other students who use this location to study for long periods of time. On a couple of occasions, I’ve noticed at least two or three other tutoring lessons going on (unfortunately, some tutors forget that they are talking to someone across the table and not to a large classroom!).

The café is located in a convenient location for most of my students. The biggest convenience is that it’s close to public transportation. This is especially helpful for my students without cars or for those students who live far away and prefer not to deal with traffic or parking. I have some learners who commute quite a distance for their English lessons.

Some potential students initially have concerns about the location and ask me to meet them somewhere else. They prefer a more quiet space, like a library or their home. While there is a library nearby, this particular library frowns upon private lessons in their space. I let the potential new student know that I understand their concerns and that it does, indeed, get loud sometimes (it’s also near a busy fire station!). But I let them know that I have been using the space for over two years and that it has worked for all of my students.

The café also has the advantage of simulating “real life.” The student has to be able to speak and listen to English under normal circumstances. It improves concentration and focus. A couple of students may have decided not to have lessons with me, but I really haven’t noticed any lack of students due to the location.

Here’s a partial list of possible locations for private English lessons: coffee shops, libraries, the tutor’s home or office, the student’s home or office, senior centers, and community centers.

It’s kind of fun to meet my students in a café. There’s always fresh coffee! I call it “my office.” Being self-employed has some disadvantages (no health insurance being the biggest disadvantage!), but it also has some perks. One of my favorite perks is that I get to decide where, and usually, when to work.

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