Private EFL/ESL classes can make you a tidy amount of money. However, choosing how much to charge can be tricky. You need to earn enough for it to be worthwhile, but avoid driving away students with high prices. In this article, I’ll explain how to find the right balance.

In general, new and inexperienced TEFL teachers should charge $15-20 per hour for private classes. More experienced and qualified teachers can demand much more. Location plays a key factor, as in some countries, hourly rates are as low as $10, while in others they can exceed $50.

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It’s clear that the country you live in and the level of experience and qualifications you have make a big difference. Being a native English speaker also affects the amount you can charge. When you decide on hourly rates, make sure you’ve considered all aspects of your situation.

This article is part of my big guide: How to Get Started as an EFL/ESL Private Tutor so make sure you read that for the whole process.

How much should you charge for EFL/ESL classes?

Know your market

The main thing determining how much you can charge for EFL/ESL lessons is the market you’re entering.

If you’re going to teach in Ecuador, for example, the average salary for people there is quite low, so charging more than $20 per hour means you’ll lose a huge chunk of potential students.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on becoming a tutor in Singapore, the lower end rates are in the $30-35 region with the possibility to charge as much as $60.

Searching for the perfect TEFL destination with the best earnings? Compare countries around the world with my free resource: How Much Do TEFL & TESL Teachers Make? Countries compared.

Even within a country, rates vary. You can charge more in major cities than in rural villages, because people in cities have more money to spend.

As a rule, the amount you can charge reflects the wealth and living cost in that area. It makes sense. Just be aware that if you’re working in a richer area, you’ll have to pay higher rent and bills, so it’s not necessarily more profitable.

I’m a full-time private tutor in a town outside Madrid. If I lived in the city, I could charge higher hourly rates, but I’d also have to pay almost double in rent for equivalent apartment.

Research other tutors in your area and figure out what people are willing to spend.

Show off your qualities

Your TEFL qualifications and teaching experience affect how much you can charge. When you’re advertising to prospective students, showing off the certificates you’ve earned and any experience you have as a teacher/coach/tutor means you can charge higher hourly rates.

Qualifications aren’t as important when you get established. Word of mouth and reputation for great classes will take you a long way in your community.

If you’re looking for great value TEFL certificates, I recommend International TEFL and TESOL Training. Click the link for 15% off all courses (I receive compensation, so you’re supporting me, too). Not convinced? Read why I’d choose ITTT over other TEFL course providers.

Native English speakers have an advantage

Although it may seem unfair, TEFL tutors who are native English speakers are more competitive in the private English tutoring market.

When students decide on a tutor, they often can’t determine teacher quality, and they may not know the difference between a 120-hour TEFL and a Level 5 TEFL. Given the choice, they’re going to favour the native English speaker.

This means us lucky native speakers can charge a little more.

Don’t set your rates too low

If you’re a new TEFL teacher, it may be tempting to set your rates lower than the rest of the competition, to ensure you get students. I advise against this.

Firstly, students often associate cost with quality. If you’re the cheapest tutor out there, they may assume you’re also the worst.

Secondly, you need to earn enough to make it worthwhile. If you can’t earn a decent rate from the classes, why bother at all?

Sure, set your rates at the lower end of the spectrum if you want to get a good flow of students, but take the time to advertise yourself well rather than underselling your services.

To learn how to attract students, read my article: How to Get Private EFL/ESL Classes: Quickly find students

How to make more money per class

Here’s an easy strategy to make more money per class without needing extra qualifications or experience.

Give private classes to small groups.

Most private tutors give one-to-one classes. That means the cost of the class is set squarely on one individual (or their parents). Let’s say that’s $24 an hour. Pretty expensive, right? Not all students would be willing to pay this.

Now imagine you gave the same class to three students at the same time. They could split the cost, so each only pays $8. Suddenly it looks like a great deal.

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But what if we charge $30 in total? Each student pays $10 – that’s still good value for them – and you get $30 for an hour’s work.

Of course, each student won’t learn quite as much as if they were on their own, and you may have to do a little extra preparation.

I’ve found small groups are easier to teach than individuals, especially with children and shy adults. You can do more games and activities. Plus, if one cancels, you can still run the class with the others.

Don’t go too far with group sizes, though. There’s a point where the class gets too big and you’ll have trouble managing the class. For me, the best groups have 2-4 students.

To make sure you get paid for every class, read my article explaining how to enforce student payment and cancellation policies: Make Sure You Get Paid for Private EFL/ESL Classes

Longer classes mean less unpaid time

A problem with private tutoring is you spend quite a lot of time in between classes, moving from one place to another.

That means longer classes are better financially. Imagine you had 5 classes that took half an hour each, with a 15 minute gap between them all. You’d spend an hour between classes and only two and a half hours teaching.

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Instead, if you did two classes of 90 minutes each, you’d only lose 15 minutes, while getting paid for 3 hours. In a shorter total amount of time, you’d work more, and earn more.

For that reason, I charge a slightly lower hourly rate for longer classes because they reduce the amount of unpaid time.

For more on class durations, check out my article: How Long Should Private EFL/ESL Classes Be: Tips included.

My personal pricing structure

Below, you can see how much I charge per class in my town near Madrid, Spain.

Take into account that I have given private classes since 2016, I have a PGCE and QTS (teaching license in the UK), and I’ve built up a reputation for high-quality classes by staying in the same town for several years. My rates are higher than you’d expect for a beginner TEFL teacher.

Prices are in euros.

Class Duration1 student2 students3 students4 students
60 minutes25 (25 each)30 (15 each)33 (11 each)32 (8 each)
90 minutes36 (36 each)42 (21 each)45 (15 each)42 (10.50 each)
120 minutes44 (44 each)48 (24 each)51 (17 each)48 (12 each)

As you can see, it’s much cheaper for students in a group than individually, and I also earn a little extra. Nevertheless, I still have a few individual classes.

Route to success

To summarise, here are the steps you should take to determine the best price for your private EFL/ESL classes:

  • Research your market and find the upper and lower limits.
  • Place yourself within that range depending on your qualifications, experience and if you’re a native English speaker. Remember not to undersell yourself.
  • Figure out a good price for a one-to-one class, then set rates for small groups
  • Advertise yourself and adjust your price if you need to.

The last point is key. The reaction you get after putting yourself out there will be telling. If nobody contacts you in the first month, something’s wrong. Reassess your strategy and consider lowering your price.

If you get a flood of interested students, you could probably raise your price in the future.

Whatever you charge, you need to deliver high quality classes.

Catch up on all the articles in the Getting Started as a Private EFL/ESL Tutor guide:
How to Get Started as an EFL/ESL Private Tutor: Full guide
Requirements and Qualifications to Become an EFL/ESL Tutor
How to Get Private EFL/ESL Classes: Quickly find students
How Long Should Private EFL/ESL Classes Be: Tips included
How Much Should You Charge for Private EFL/ESL Classes?
Where Should In-Person Private EFL/ESL Classes Take Place?
Make Sure You Get Paid for Private EFL/ESL Classes
9 Items Every EFL/ESL Teacher Needs for Brilliant Classes

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