5 ways to make money from your language skills
1. Become a conversation buddy
If you studied a language at school, you’ll already be familiar with conversation practice: it involves chatting about everyday topics with a teacher or native speaker, and it’s a way to test out or improve what you’ve learned.
There are ways to get your conversation practice in for free, usually by swapping a language you know with someone who speaks the language you want to learn. So, if you want to get paid for talking, you need an angle!
• Advertise your strengths – If you’re a native speaker or have teaching experience, tell people!
• Go niche – Think essentials for business travellers, medical vocab, technical terms, phrases for students or sports fans.
• Use your accent – Regional differences can be the most challenging aspect of a language, so if you’ve got an accent, make the most of it!
Once you’ve got a hook, setting up an online ‘classroom’ is easy as pie with these free online video messengers.
Most messaging apps let you vary your style of interaction: use video chat for role play and speaking practice, or stick to texting or emailing for writing skills (or if you’re camera shy!).
Alternatively, use notice boards, leaflet drops and language clubs to get in touch with local learners.
2. Create language resources
Teaching doesn’t have to be about real-time interaction: there’s also demand for language learning resources, from textbooks and quizzes to stories and podcasts.
André Klein doesn’t call himself a language teacher – he’s a coder, blogger and linguaphile – yet he’s cutting a rep for himself as a top-rated Amazon author thanks to a series of dual-language books.
The format is simple but effective: short stories using basic words and sentences, with an English translation alongside. If that sounds like your cup of tea, head over to our guide to publishing eBooks and have a go yourself!
You can also sell quiz sheets, grammar notes, vocab lists, audio lessons and anything else you fancy from your own website. If you’ve got the coding skills, you can always get ‘appy’ as well.
3. Make language videos on YouTube or a language blog
Settling into a new country can be a tall ask for any international student or expat. Once you throw in linguistic hurdles like slang, cultural references and the Geordie accent, it’s a minefield – which is where native speakers like you come in!
YouTube and written blogs are a brilliant way to provide secondary student support, and there can be cash in it too – whether it’s revealing what locals are really mumbling about or getting to the heart of the cheeky Nando’s.
Topics to get you going with your language content
• ‘How to lose your accent and sound like a local’
• ‘Ten bizarre phrases or customs you’ll find in the UK’
• ‘Language pointers: anything from grammar essentials to conjugating verbs’
• ‘How to master a British/Welsh/Scottish/Geordie accent [or whichever you’re blessed with]’
• ‘Everyday situations (like buying bus tickets or asking for directions) which can double-up as listening practice or tourist info.’
Blogs and YouTube vids are winners for monetisation, too – by running ads alongside your content or linking to books, apps or products as part of your spiel. Naturally, we’ve got full guides on how to make cash with both options:
• Make money from blogging
• Make money from YouTube videos
4. Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Whether you’re after a side hustle or a fully fledged career, getting a qualification or work experience (through TEFL, for instance) can help you be a better teacher.
Some courses even cover the practical side of things beyond the teaching part, such as how to go freelance, find work, manage your taxes or teach online.
TEFL is a well-trodden teaching path with the chance to travel and work abroad once you’ve got your qualification. Courses can be pricey, and can take a bit of commitment – but neither are reasons to blow it off if you think it’ll pay for itself!
Take a look at our TEFL guide to see how it works and where to head next.
5. Become a tour guide
If you like walking and the sound of your own voice, tour guiding could be your bread and butter. It’s also one of the few freelancing gigs that you don’t need qualifications or certificates to set up.
In fact, you don’t even need to start anything at all – you could find tour guides who already operate in your area and just offer to ride along as an interpreter.
That said, it’s fairly simple to go it alone: you just need a set of walking routes, excellent local knowledge and some decent jokes. Obviously, you can lead tours in plain English if that’s all you speak, but a second or third language gives you an edge (and it’s likely you’ll be able to charge more for your services)!