Requests for FREE ENGLISH lessons

One odd thing I’ve noticed the few years I’ve been in Taiwan is occasional requests for free English lessons. I’m not talking about Taiwanese people coming up to me saying “Hello! How are you?”, as I really don’t mind that.

What I’m talking about is some of the locals asking me for free English lessons, offering absolutely nothing in return. I’m always amazed by the lack of courtesy in such a request.

Has this happened to you? How did you deal with the situation?

You tell them when you are available and how much you charge per hour.

What could be simpler?

I can’t recall any specific incidents, however that’s probably because I rarely accept one-one-one’s to begin with, so I generally tell them I haven’t got the time before the question of money comes up. If I do take a one-on-one it’s either through referral (it’s easier for me to set a high figure if I’m not talking to the student directly) or someone I enjoy working with (and then I give a pretty good rate).

Maybe they’re thinking something informal, just general chatting, a chance for them to practice but not really instruction. Isn’t their charming personality reward enough? But really, I can imagine someone in the US proposing to a Chinese to get together, saying something like “We should get together sometime. I can take you out to this great little place I know. You can teach me some Chinese. It’ll be fun,” with no thought about how much to pay per hour.

Any other thoughts, experiences?

I’ve had that happen to me too. In this one odd occurance I’d have to agree with Sandman. If receiving something in return is what you expect then you must tell them up front.


Hi, I’ve had similar requests, most of them from acquaintances. Generally, I enjoy helping others and always encourage a nice conversation. As someone previously replied, you can simply state your going rate, or refuse. It really depends on you. Some of us are social butterflies and enjoy a good chat anytime one comes around. Some of us are consumed by making money and only look for flying dollar signs.

Anyhow, I have a few friends who ask for help with their English, and as a good friend I almost always do so. If I’m too busy, or feel the request is something I’m uncomfortable with I tell them. But I also look at this as a great opportunity to share in the experience by letting them help me from time to time with my language questions.

I guess it all depends on how you feel about others asking for these favors or services. If you’re looking for friends, this can be a great opportunity. Or looking for a language exchange partner? Free lunch for your help? The possibilities are nearly unlimited.