You’re not charging enough…

I often hear from teachers saying how they can’t afford this or can’t afford that, budgets are being cut, the economy’s bad or that parents don’t have money or won’t spend it on education.

Well, over here it’s a real eye opener!  I now know where the money is going …

This week we’ve had teachers who’ve flown over to Tahiti, Korea, South America, India and Japan (several times a year!) just to recruit students. Your students! Parents everywhere are willing to spend their money, and lots of it, on educating their children – abroad!

And it’s not just from big cities, students from all areas are studying here.

Now obviously you can’t offer the English environment or activities that schools in New Zealand can offer.

But you can offer the same level of education and for a fraction of the cost.

This is an ideal opportunity for you to compete for the money and students that are absolutely out there.

How do they do it? It’s by being totally professional, upping their game and by almost guaranteeing students will get good. There’s none of this “study for 2, 3or 6 years and let’s see” business like in some countries, or playing around with an improvised curriculum or materials. Over here it’s “get the ability in ____ months” or they offer internationally accepted qaulifications such as IELTS or TOEIC.

If you can offer that locally then a whole slice of a very big pie is yours!

I know I’m going to get lots of comments saying “but we only have one hour a week”, “parents won’t pay”, “kids can’t use the English outside class here”. But you’ll need to get out of that mind set.

I’ve spent the last two weeks interviewing students here and many parents are willing to pay for several hours a week (people always say they never will, but actually do!) and take even primary school kids out of regular school for a whole year, to provide them with an international education. Some of the kids here only speak their own language with their friends and spend all night skyping their boyfriends/girlfriends back home but they still improve just from the class time.

And it’s back to the expectations thing, if a school doesn’t expect the kids to get good, they don’t. If they are mixing with really motivated kids (or teachers!) from other countries and see them whizz pass them in level, they know they have to up their game.

As I say, this is where all the money is going.  It’s just a case of how you want to compete.

Anyway, I’m going to have some videos of some of the schools so you can see what they offer, I’m very impressed by the quality of what they have and I guess regulating English schools does have some benefits!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

10 Responses to “You’re not charging enough…”

  1. Margit

    I totally can see all this when thinking of it as a teacher of a private school. I raised my fee up 25% last April, when economy was at its worse and nobody complaint. I got even more requests.
    I’ve started thinking of taking my private students to NZ for a few weeks, finally talking to the parents last week. All of them (though they are not the wealthiest) are willing to have their kids join.
    I could run only on this line if I would want to.

    But for me it’s a completely different thing to work in the public system. Especially at our local elementary school. With 200 kids a grade there are all kinds of kids and I especially welcome those who go home and no parent is around until midnight, whose parents often don’t pay the lunch fee, never show up in school…
    The more different kids there are, the more everybody can learn (sorry, not meaning English itself). For me in Elementary English is a tool to communication and living together. It’s not the goal.
    This might sound weird, but I guess that it is for many of those who are teaching in the public system in Japan.

    And seeing how all these great techniques shared on the Forum work and change the atmosphere of teachers working together and of whole classes, the feed back from (this week it were over 400 letters) students, all this is a part of my salary.

    It’s a big give and take so as far as our school is concerned I am okay with the lowest wages as long as I can handle the hours.

    I think our school is the perfect school to use Genki method for all kind of subjects, as it IS this big and 95% of the teachers have the same idea about education.

  2. Daryl

    I agree completely with your post about students going off to learn English abroad. As a foreign teacher in Korea I feel underutilized when it comes to the summer and winter breaks. My school’s ‘English Camps’ are badly organised, under advertised and consequently dismissed by many students who will go off to other cities or leave the country to learn English. Given a bit more authority I know I, and the other foreign teachers here, could offer something as good. Sadly, the schools just don’t seem to want to know, paying me to sit around doing nothing most of the vacation period.

  3. Liza

    This reminds me of a friend of mine who teaches at a small private language school just over the border from here in Hungary. Its just her as the native English speaker and the lady owner who used to teach English in grammar school in Hungary and learnt her English in Russia with native speakers there before the fall of the iron curtain . They have a 2-roomed school.

    They offer qualifications recognised in the Hungarian system and international ones. They have a 99 per cent pass rate and their business is expanding so quickly (and has been over the last 4 years) they are looking at bigger premises to move to. So they must also be doing something right.

    And parents are willing to and do pay, and so do the adults. Hungarian is not an easy language to learn and isn’t spoken by anyone else internationally except Hungarians, they know they have to invest in learning an international language if they wish to develop personally or professionally and parents are willing to invest in their children’s education to get this.

  4. Mónica

    Hi Richard,

    I totally agree with you. I run a school and it was hard at the start, because nobody knows you and parents are a bit reluctant about the level their children would achieve coming to the school. But after some years of academic success, those parents talk to other parents about our school because their children are really learning. Discipline is a key part too, because that affects the learning and parents don’t want their children to be in a group where there’s a bad behaved student. In my opinion, the best way to deal with those students is by giving them an opportunity and a time limit, if they don’t improve their behaviour then you must expel them for the sake of the other students and the reputation of the school.
    Another important thing is to prepare students for international exams and only let them take them when you think they’re ready. Parents don’t want to waste money, they prefer to invest it. And if you let them know that by investing in education, their children will have a better future they don’t mind spending the money. But we have to remember that the guarantee of learning a language is essential if you want parents to spend the money, and you can only offer that guarantee after some years of good reputation.
    In my opinion, the reason why parents don’t want to pay more or why they don’t trust English schools is that there are many schools where they just want to make money and don’t make any efforts to improve improve the quality. They offer a good level of English and native teachers but we all know that being an English-speaking person is not enough to be a good teacher. One has to make the effort to plan motivating lessons and has to plan in advance, you shouldn’t just improvise. I think that’s the owner of the school’s fault really, because he/she is responsible for the professionalism of his / her teachers.
    It’s just a matter of time. Once parents find out whether their children are really learning English at a good pace, they won’t mind paying more.
    By the way, students who go to private lessons in Spain take at least two lessons a week, which is not ideal really but they have other activities such as football, gymnastics, IT… and they have to combine those activities with doing homework from their school too.

  5. Amri

    In the last 4 or 5 years I spent teaching, I learned that a lot of parents prefer to spend their money on something different than the education of their child. The find it more important to buy a new carpet for the living room or going to the cinema than spending it on the kids lessons and then beg you to make a good price, because they “don’t have much money”. It happened to me before that people come and really begging and telling things like “no money at all”, then I agree to teach them on a really low basis because I think education should not be a question of price and I often did lessons for free for children who really couldnt pay for it. But when you then see them running around in the movies and doing all kinds of things, you feel kind of used and screwed, sorry. I became very careful when people tell me “we don’t have money” – because most of the times they COULD pay if they WANTED. It’s not fair that I do without things, because I want to help the people and do lessons for a low cost, when they then do the things I would like to do and tell me they don’t have money to pay. One should not let people play their games and don’t sell yourself under your worth. That is a lesson that I have learned.

  6. Dexter

    Certainly I found here in Japan that nobody values anything (and certainly education) if it is cheap. Look at the cost of teaching materials in the shops here for example of this! I live from day to day on a very tight budget and I am afraid I have to charge what I feel is appropriate for a quality English lesson (especially considering all the materials are paid for and provided by myself) Education is a right for everybody of course but I cannot bear parents sob stories about lesson costs being “too high” when the husband and wife are both carrying matching Louis Vuitton handbags! Education should come before this.

  7. Matt

    This is just how I am feeling after taking over a private school that charged waaaay too little for quality lessons and small classes. Of course this is why they always ran a deficit and handed it over to me for free in exchange for teaching some of the remaining hours that they ‘owed’ their customers

  8. Stephen

    Great comments and some nice food for thought. I guess you should never under sell yourself. Like all things, you get what you pay for, although that being said, some things in the 100 yen defy this rule 🙂

  9. Luke

    Hi!

    Great post. Anyone like to elaborate on what would be a correct fee to charge. Say for example 12 students in a class– what would be considered cheap/the correct price/ expensive?

    Has anyone had success charging large amounts for small classes– if so, what was the maximum price parents would pay?

  10. Margit

    I had a one on one class, when I still was a teacher with very very poor abilities, and the parents payed 100 dollars per lesson, plus transport plus dinner. I didn’t feel well, because I wasn’t really good at that time, still it took me 90 minutes to get to their house, so I in some sense it was fair, I guess.

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