One of the important considerations of choosing where to teach live classes is timezones. You have to think about the time zones of your teachers, your students and your admin team.
If your teachers are living in the developed world, you need to be mindful that your teaching wages will be much higher than in the developing world. Depending on the students you target, this can attract or detract students from your school.
Start with the two easy questions:
1 - Where do I want to set up my online school or teaching business?
2 - Where do I have an advantage with recruiting the best online teachers?
The third question will be easier to answer based on your answers above.
3 - Where do I have an advantage with finding and teaching students online?
Below are the four largest regional markets to look into, each with their own unique set of challenges.
South East Asia
The Russian Federation
The United States
China is especially unique because of the Great Firewall which does make live online video streaming difficult from outside of China.
This leaves the three fastest growing regions open with plenty more opportunity in markets that have been traditionally overlooked including, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Albania.
I’m going to assume you and your teachers are based in one of the top 5 time zones for teaching English:
North America - East and Central
North America - West coast
East Coast Australia
USA & CANADA: EASTERN & CENTRAL TIME ZONES
So to start off with, you could focus on the millions of people wanting to learn English inside the USA and Canada. For example in the United States, perhaps 12% - 35% of the 56 million hispanic people living in the United States may have limited English skills. (NOTE: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff16.html)
Secondly, you’re in line with the timezones of Latin America. The biggest markets for learning English in this region are Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Your timezones work well for anytime, day or night, in this region.
You can teach to both of these regions very easily and follow standard working hours. This could be attractive to teachers that want to go full time. For teachers that can only teach after standard work hours, you could look at targeting Mexico and the West Coast of the US since they would be one to two hours behind you.
Thirdly, if your teachers are wanting to work during the early afternoon, you’re also in a great location to serve European students after school and European employees after work.
Unfortunately, with the exception of Thailand, it will be difficult for you to serve the largest Asian markets like Japan, Korea and China because your teachers will want to be sleeping when the students here are wanting to learn.
USA & CANADA: MOUNTAIN & WESTERN TIME ZONES
As above, the North American market for teaching English is exciting. You’re also in the best position to teach students south of the Mexican border.
If your teachers are wanting to work afternoons, then you’ll be in a great position to teach students in Brazil during their early evening. You could fill in the mornings by teaching to students in Europe after work or after school since 8am to 12pm in Vancouver is 5pm - 9pm.
There is a little bit of crossover between the timezones in Japan/South Korea but this would likely be in their morning and your evening so may not be as convenient for teachers.
EAST COAST AUSTRALIA
You have the opposite problem and opportunity to North America.
You could start your morning by supporting students in Brazil, but otherwise it could be quite difficult to teach students in countries in Latin America since you are sleeping most of the productive hours of the day.
If your teachers are part time and wanting to teach online after hours, you could focus on teaching students or corporates in Central Europe during their morning.
The real opportunity for you is in Asia. This is a vast market and the time zones give you an unrivalled advantage. You can support them during all of their daylight hours and teaching business English to companies could be a unique opportunity for you.
Outside of China, there are fantastic growth opportunities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. There are even faster growing markets in smaller countries that shy from the headlines like Sri Lanka, Laos and Myanmar.
Naturally your advantage lies in your proximity to Europe. The fact that your biggest trading partners are right next door is hugely helpful and means you can promote the ‘British’ English as a differentiator.
Some of the biggest markets for your virtual classes lie in Russia, Poland, Czech republic, Spain and Italy where there is some proficiency but speaking is much harder to develop. Online tutoring is already a blossoming industry so now is the time to get involved.
Latin America during their work hours offers your teachers quite a lot of opportunity. These students might have more flexible availability during the day such as students and potentially businesses.
Your timezones are helpful for teaching in Asian countries like Thailand during your work day, their early evening or after-work in places like Seoul, South Korea.
One of the keys to success is to pick once niche at a time and own it. What’s your niche? The first one you pick should be niche you really understand and have a competitive advantage in.
For example, at LearnCube our niche is helping schools to teach languages online, specifically teaching English online. We started by providing online school software to customers in Europe because we could easily beat Skype from a teaching point of view with a superior online whiteboard, we understood the culture and had people in our team that can speak English, German and Spanish.
Now that we’re building up a stronger reputation in the virtual classroom technology space, our next niche is helping physical language schools in Australia since our founders are Australian and we have more helpful time zones.
Think about what your niche is or should be...
Do you have a natural advantage when it comes to a country of origin?
Do you have an advantage with certain languages?
Do you have a time zone advantage?
Do you see a bigger opportunity in helping student prepare for certain tests?
Do you specialise in business English or English for certain professions?
Then see if you can zero in a little further...
What are my teachers strongest in - e.g. academic English?
What do they like to teach - e.g. teaching how to speak English?
What am I already getting a lot of interest in - e.g. adult students in Vietnam wanting to pass an IELTS test?
Write these down and then think about all the ways you can speak directly to the market you’ve chosen. How do the images, text and titles on your page stand out to your ideal student? What about your facebook page? Your testimonials? Your marketing material, etc
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