13 Dec Taking it to the Streets by Jill Wiley
If you’re like me, you LOVE using TPRS/CI methods in your classroom. You have seen your students’ enthusiasm and proficiency skyrocket, and your own professional satisfaction is off the charts. And even though it’s not easy, it makes teaching joyful in a way that it never was when grammar drills were the go-to activities.
However, as I got farther into my TPRS journey, I began to experience some other emotions: sadness, frustration, and even anger. Often, when I mentioned being a language teacher, I would get comments like, “I took ____ years of language, and I can’t speak a word,” or “Languages are so hard.” I wanted to help people understand that, YES, they can actually speak a new language, and NO, languages are not difficult – they’re fun. I finally realized that if I wanted to change the paradigm that surrounds language learning in a broader context, I was going to have to take TPRS/CI to a broader audience.
If you also would like to share TPRS/CI with those outside your school, but don’t know where to start, here are several venues, some that would be pro bono and others where you could charge for your expertise.
Libraries love educational programming, especially free programming. During the summer, I offer a series of weekly classes for elementary and pre-school age children. I adapt my methods for the younger kids, but I still rely on comprehensible input. The kids love it, and the parents are intrigued. This is ideal for teachers with a struggling program. While you’re not going to see immediate results, the buzz it creates can filter up into the middle school/high school and create a name for you as a dedicated and creative teacher.
Get started: Call your local library at least 1 month before you want your classes to start. You may want to have a short description of your class ready for them. (Make sure to highlight how different and fun it will be!) Libraries may require paperwork before allowing you to volunteer.
Houses of worship
I did a “just for fun” class at my church, and I know of another teacher who has taught comprehensible Hebrew at her temple. Additionally, if your church does mission work in other countries, a few phrases of Spanish or French might be a real blessing on the mission trip.
Get started: Just get permission from a church leader and determine a time and location. If you are nervous about approaching strangers, but feel comfortable at a place of worship, this is a great way to build your confidence.
Youth meetings (scouts, 4-H)
Again, this is a great way to build a program. The class will probably not last more than 30-60 minutes, but it is fun to watch the kids’ eyes light up as they begin to understand another language. And don’t underestimate the potential for growing a program this way. I made the decision to study French based on 3 verbs my 8th grade teacher taught us. It still cracks me up that one of the most influential decisions of my life was based on 30 minutes of exposure to French.
Get Started: Besides making contact with local club leaders, you can also contact the district coordinators (contact info easily accessible through Google search) and let them know you are available. They can then share your contact info in the leaders’ newsletter.
Wineries and breweries often have private rooms that spend most of their time empty. If you can create a reason for patrons to come, anything they order is a found money for that establishment. Although I usually have a small turnout, I enjoy it, and at $15/person, I make a little extra pocket money. Since I’m so used to doing TPRS/CI, it doesn’t take much prep work, and the winery lets me use their room free of charge.
Get started: Do a little research to see which local restaurants or wineries have a meeting room. Then, simply call and ask if they’d be interested in having you do a class for their patrons.
Preschools and daycares
This one is a bit more intimidating and takes a little more prep work, but it can provide nice side income ($100+/week). I offer enrichment classes, for which interested parents can register their child. First, I offer a free class to get the kids excited, and send home flyers informing parents about pricing and times. Parents sign their child up a month at a time. Here in the Midwest, $48/month per child is about the going rate for 30-minute weekly enrichment classes.
Get started: This one isn’t for the easily intimidated, as you’re probably going to get a lot of no’s before you find a location that says yes. Unless you have some contacts in early childhood education, you’re going to have to cold call centers and offer your services. Larger centers offer more income potential.
Professional Development for teachers
OK, it’s not really a location, but you know what I mean. There are a lot of school corporations that currently have a growing Latino population and would like for their teachers to speak some basic Spanish. If you can establish a reputation for fun, useful professional development, you can charge $100/hr or more.
Get started: Although you can certainly pitch this option to school corporations and day cares right off the bat, it helps to have some credibility first. Start by submitting proposals to offer training at state teachers’ conventions. Once you have a few of those under your belt, you can use those accomplishments and any testimonials you garnered as evidence that you are the real deal.
Three years ago, I was starting my first free class at church, and I’ve been charging for my classes for just over 2 years. It’s been quite a journey, and I have a long way I want to go to bring TPRS/CI methods to the larger population, but it is so rewarding when someone leaves my 2-hour winery class able to read a simple paragraph in French, or my preschoolers begin answering my questions in Spanish – unprompted! If you’d like to learn more about starting your own CI-based teaching business, feel free to reach out to me. The more, the merrier – AND the better for language learners everywhere.
Special bonus for Fluency Matters readers: If you want to try this out, but are intimidated by calling people you don’t know, e-mail me here and let me know which location you’d like to try. I’ll sent you a sample script (specific to that location) you can use or adapt when you call to set up classes.
Jill Wiley is in love with both CI methods and entrepreneurship. After 17 years of full-time classroom teaching, she left the classroom to spend more time with her family and to found a business to bring CI to a wider audience. For inspiration, ways to make money from home, and tips on entrepreneurship, check out her blog at classroomtohome.com