With the loss of two clients in my private client world, my hours for that income stream are a bit light. I am now averaging about 3 1/2 hours a week with private clients. But one of my clients has Covid for the second time, so I am not sure when I’ll get to give them their last hour. I had a realization this week, dear reader. Optics are important, and the optics of EFL when you are on your own are completely different than when you teach for a school. I came to this realization talking to a friend on Thursday because she has had some of the same. reactions from people that I have. If you’re on your own and you quote a price people think it’s too expensive. But they don’t realize what goes into preparing a lesson. I’ve had so many people come up to me and say “But what does an English teacher really do? You’re not a real teacher. For whatever reason, if you don’t work for a school that is paid for by the government, then people consider the teaching to be not as valuable as if you were teaching children in a school. The problem with that theory is that most teachers have to bring in their own supplies, they don’t get paid enough to put up with student disrespect and that translates to parent disrespect. At least, in the west. In Asia, I think it’s a little bit easier to be a teacher and the pay is much better. I have a friend who taught in Korea for some years and she was able to make much more money than she does here in the Netherlands. In Asia, people make recommendations and you get lots of clients, but here in the Netherlands, people don’t recommend it to other people in their circle. The other problem is that with online teaching being so low pay when you quote a €50 an hour price people think that’s too expensive. I had that happen with a recommendation from Café Vanaut, which is where I go to do my admin work for The English Center. The owner of the Cafe is a New Yorker and is amazing. She allows me to put my postcards in her window and she actually recommends me because she has seen my work. She recommended me to a customer of hers and I got a text asking what my prices were for basic conversation lessons. I quoted my rate of €50 an hour and didn’t hear a word from the person so can’t say that I am surprised. However, I have stopped trying to reduce my prices just to get clients. For each hour that I teach. I do at least that much if not more in prep time. So why shouldn’t I charge a living wage? After all, nobody bats an eye when a software engineer charges €150 an hour for his time and consultancy. Teachers are just as skilled as software engineers and frankly have to put up with a lot more. If you want a 10 euro per hour lesson, go online. It was an eye-opening realization that I am just as capable as anyone else, but because I have the word teacher in my title, I am looked down on by many people.
On Friday night, I went out with colleagues from The English Center and mentioned all of these concerns. They had a different take. People expect high prices from schools. They don’t expect high prices from individuals and so it’s a little harder as a tutor to get the rate that you want. They would be very surprised to hear that test prep in America is charged upwards of $200 an hour. In the Netherlands, those prices would be impossible. The more I learn about how things work at The English Center, the more curious I am as to how they were able to go out and find so many in-company clients and foster so many good relationships with different entities within the Netherlands. I think my colleagues are quite lucky when they told me that they don’t have those experiences that I had on Friday. I have to say that I was quite happy for them but also a little bit jealous. Maybe if I’m here another five years I will also have the same experiences but for right now my private client world is loyal, but a little bit light on new clients. My English Center schedule is going to lighten a little bit more as Slava wants to switch his online classes to Thursday and I do not want to work on a Thursday so it was decided that we will give him to another teacher. While it is a loss of €300 for me, I think this is the best way forward because I do not want to give up my Writer’s Group, as it is kind of sacred to me. Carlien and I are scheduled to finish our five-hour package this coming Friday and I’m not sure that she is going to renew. I also have a couple of lessons with Sanne and I have to get in touch with her parents to see if they want to continue which I have no problem doing. After all, I’m in Amstelveen on Wednesday. Roy proceeds well, but accent reduction is tough. It’s a little bit challenging with Dutch people because they don’t have a very strong accent, to begin with, and their biggest issue is the TH and that’s really hard to correct I’m finding.
In terms of the Writers Group, I was away last week because of an evening of brainstorming with the book club instead. At the brainstorming session, we solidified the structure of the group and I am going to be in charge of the calendar and be an emergency host when needed. So I didn’t get any writing done this week. And I won’t get any writing done until Thursday because on Sunday when I would’ve been writing, I went to a book club event. We had a Halloween edition discussion, and we talked about A Clockwork Orange, both the film and the book. I have to say that in terms of the two I preferred the movie to the book, but it was super 1970s and felt a bit like being drunk. Or high, I imagine. It was a very interesting look into 1970s cinematography. And the primary colors and filming were ridiculous. I didn’t like the treatment of women in the book or the film, but it’s to be expected both for the time and the subject matter. All in all this dystopian world is not one that I would want to be a part of. And I’m not sure as a result of this book, whether redemption from crime is possible or not. Still, it was an interesting discussion.
That’s what she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.