Now that the world is smaller than ever thanks to the internet and social media, more and more people want to use the lingua franca of our age – the English language. Teaching is a fun and lucrative experience but it should also provide for you as an individual.

According to studies, 20% of the world’s population speaks English, whether it’s natively or as a second language (ESL). This means that you will have access to a large number of potential candidates to tutor but also a lot of competitors to pay attention to.

Estimate your lowest possible hourly rate.

Setting your freelance rates can be extremely difficult, especially with the very different economy in each respective region and country. Let’s take a look at several tips which can help you determine your going rates for teaching ESL, as well as how to be fair to your students and their pockets.

#1 Set your Minimum Rate

When setting your freelance rates, it’s often a good idea to start at the bottom. Try to think of the minimum hourly rate which you are comfortable working with and don’t go below it no matter what.

After all, your income will determine whether or not you can sustain yourself as a freelance teacher or whether you’ll have to look for another job. The rate should reflect your country’s minimum hourly rates. Once you have an estimate of your lowest possible hourly rate, start building your program further.

#2 Country-Specific Rates

As we’ve mentioned before, the economic situation in each world region and country varies drastically. You can’t charge the same amount for ESL teaching to someone in Germany as you would to someone in China or Easter Europe.

With that in mind, it’s important to take the average salaries of each country you are willing to teach in under consideration. It’s a good idea to offer variable, country-specific rates for your students since their monetary capabilities won’t be the same across the board. That way, you will be able to make a decent monthly salary teaching as a freelancer and build your career over time without losing money in the meantime.

#3 Online vs. Offline

Countries like China have a very well developed ESL learning industry. You can easily migrate to China and teach offline, dealing with your students face-to-face. If this isn’t a possibility due to family issues or other obligations, you can teach through professional platforms just as well.

Come to China and teach English offline.

However, you can set different prices for online and offline teaching respectively. Online teaching should be cheaper since you won’t have to commute or leave your room while you teach. Similarly, offline teaching with a hands-on approach should be charged more since you will be a lot more involved in the process. Make sure to take this difference into consideration and don’t make the mistake of offering a flat rate for online and offline teaching.

#4 Offer Tiered Plans

You are undoubtedly familiar with different levels of learning English. Similarly, you should tier your teaching plans into different categories, reflecting the complexity of each level.

For example, your programs can be separated into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, each with different lengths, teaching materials and lesson frequencies. The more attention you place into each category, the higher your price can be in order to compensate for the effort you put into creating and maintaining the quality of your delivery.

#5 Consider your Credentials

Anyone who approaches you with wishes to learn ESL will ask for your credentials in order to check your credibility. It makes a huge difference whether you are graduated English major or just a native speaker. People who went through college education are likely to have knowledge of teaching, methodology and ESL learning practices.

However, even if you are a native speaker and want to freelance as an English teacher, you can do so with no issues. The difference will be reflected in your income, since you won’t be able to charge as much to your students. Prepare to charge less depending on how experienced and educated you are as a teacher and an English speaker.

#6 Group vs. Individual

There is a large difference in whether you work with a group of students or opt for individual tutoring. Teaching a group of students allows you to organize workshops, group projects and discussions in English. When it comes to individual teaching, you are facing with a one-on-one situation in which you have the full attention of your student.

In both cases however, rates vary drastically. It’s a good idea to check out some of the top translation companies when it comes to preparing materials for your students who are not English speakers (yet). You can charge less for group teaching since you will get money from each student in the group. In terms of individual tutoring, you will spend a lot of time on a single student, which means that you should charge more for your efforts.

Again, it’s important not to use a flat rate for both cases and make sure that they are different enough to be profitable for you as a freelancer. After all, you have to make a living while you teach ESL in group or individually.

#7 Be Open to Exceptions

Lastly, it’s a good idea to be open to exceptions, special cases and unexpected developments. You might be approached by someone from China who wants to learn ESL but doesn’t have much to offer in terms of money. Similarly, you may be approached by a large company who might ask you to teach all of their employees English for a flat monthly rate, ensuring that you have a job for the foreseeable future.

Students who learn ESL.

Whatever rate you choose to work with, it’s important to remain flexible in your work. Be open to negotiation, communication and finding a way to work with students no matter the situation. That way, you will always gather experience, contacts and appreciation of your students if nothing else at that particular moment.


Teaching is one of the most beautiful callings out there, especially when it comes to teaching languages. You are essentially helping someone expand their vocabulary and develop as a person in doing so. However, it’s still important to remain professional and charge for your work as a freelancer.

Find a balance of making a decent living and providing optimal conditions for your students no matter where they are from. Once you find the perfect middle ground, it will be much easier to focus on the more important aspect of your freelance career – teaching ESL across the world.

About the author:

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. She is practicing regularly while reviewing new translation services at Pick Writers and constantly contributing to other educational platforms. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.