Price negotiating for conversation tutoring?

Hi everyone

I was recently asked if I was interested in being a conversation tutor for a young 7-8 yr old child. The child already attends a private English school so they told me they can’t pay too much. They said the most they could pay is 700NT per session, which they want to be for an hour and a half. I would have to go to their house, which is not too far, but still an MRT trip. It seems they are just interested in having the child get speaking practice with a native speaker, so I don’t know how much that type of tutoring usually costs around Taipei. However, I do also have a M.Ed. degree in TESL… so I am feeling kind of strange because the task is not necessarily using all of my training, but yet I do have this education background. Well, basically, I’m just wondering if I should be asking for more, or if I should pass on this one and find more specific tutoring assignments. Anyone have opinions about this?


Well although it’s up to you, the opportunity cost of your teaching for NT$700 is the difference from what you could be earning in that time on a job which paid you commensurate with your qualifications. NT$467 an hour is way below what the market will bear even for an FOB. I would have thought NT$700 plus expenses per hour would be the bare minimum for conversation practice. Wouldn’t you rather put your M.Ed. to use ?

I’ve never understood why people think they should get more for privates than teaching a class. I’ve been teaching English for six years and could make a lot more money if I wanted to. I charge 400 an hour for private students but only for students who are motivated and I like. I rather earn 400 with a nice student than 800 for pulling teeth.

I give potential privates a free first class. In most cases I reject them after this first meeting because it is obvious they don’t like English and are merely be forced to learn it by their parents.

I consider my privates as friends. I can’t understand this philosophy of trying to charge as much as possible. If I had wanted to make money I would have become a laywer.

Almas, Guest just wants to know what the going rate is for a private conversation student. It’s not a big deal.

Ok, so the privates are friends, in that case do it for the love and not the money, that is do it for free - money just makes the relationship all dirty --Not.
$400nt an hour - no one teaches for that little these days. Get all tired out running around for $400nt, you must be kidding. This is our job, we work to make money, isn’t that why most people work. Enjoyment is important but second, why sell yourself short and undercut market rates at the same time.

I don’t charge anymore for privates than I do for classes but then a get much more than $400nt an hour for a class. Don’t settle for less than $600nt an hour. You can still be friends at that price and not be out of pocket for all the time and travel etc.

I suppose people feel they should get more for privates since there’s no school taking a cut from profits. Schools usually charge pretty high rates for one-on-one English instruction with a native speaker, over NT$1000 at one school I know. So charging a “private” $700/hr means the student pays less and the teacher makes more. Certainly, if you put your own class together, as opposed to teaching a class through a school, you could make even more money. All under the table, untaxed, and technically illegal as far as I know.

I understand A.J.'s choosing students carefully and even choosing to accept low rates. Life doesn’t go on hold for work, and, if I have a choice, I don’t want to spend my work time with unagreeable people. As long as I can afford it, I’ll choose enjoyable work over higher pay, to a point, of course. That point is different for everyone. One-on-one lessons are too expensive for many locals, especially if over a long period, so Almas John is likely catering to folks who otherwise wouldn’t pay for a private tutor. Goodness, there are many who pay a lot for a private tutor but don’t have a plan, aren’t very motivated and expect miracles. That can be an unsatisfying teaching experience.

But, A.J., can you really say that you don’t understand why people want to make as much as they possibly can? You may not agree, and you may even think it immoral, but surely it’s not incomprehensible.

Bassman, everyone has the right to set their own prices. If average prices go down, it won’t be because of individual people like Almas John accepting relatively low rates from students he carefully selects. You might say you can find both high pay and enjoyable students, but it’s subjective, isn’t it?

Some posters have written that they can’t understand why teachers charge so much for privates, many of whom are their “friends.”
Nobody (including my parents) paid for my education.
I worked hard to support myself during school, and I am now working hard to pay off student loans.
Where I come from, as well as in Taiwan, it is market forces (and your negotiating skill) that determine your salary. This is true for all for business in general, as well as the teaching business.
If you only teach privates that you enjoy teaching, more power to you. That’s great!
Some of us need the money, and work very hard for it.
I always try to be VERY WELL COMPENSATED for my skill, energy, and determination.

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I think Almas dropping students after one class if they do not seem motivated enough is daft. The first class is always a bit clumsy as teacher and student get to know each other. I have had students who seemed highly unmotivated, lazy and even rude during the first class, but they soon warmed up after a few sessions.

You can motivate students yourself if you know how and have a little patience. These same ‘bad’ students can pay well AND be your friend. Being friends with your students does not mean having to accept lower pay.

If you think you are ‘worth’ more because of your qualifications then perhaps your shouldn’t be looking at the private tutition market.

Hi again, thanks for the replies. Wow, seems I touched a nerve on some or something. I’m not trying to milk people for all they have, nor do I have some big head… I just have not worked in Taiwan and therefore do not know what the going rate is. I know that having more qualifications does not necessarily make one a better teacher, as teaching involves many things, but, if someone with no experience and no training is getting more than I am, when I have both, I would feel I am selling myself short. Personally, I do feel private lessons are worth more than class settings too. I think of it as if you wanted to really learn the piano well. You would pay a bit more for the private lesson than the piano class with 15 keyboards and headsets right?

So anyways, I was just asking. I’ll keep asking around friends and family, browsing online etc. to get more of an idea. I might do something more with my degree later, but since I didn’t come here to focus on teaching I’m not sure I want to jump into anything quite yet. Thanks again.