2nd Oct 2020 @ 10:52 am

When the lockdown put an end to Janet Harper’s Spanish language classes in March, she decided to get online and hasn’t looked back since. We chatted to her.

Did you do video classes before the lockdown, Janet?

I did, but to a much lesser degree. I’ve been teaching for years and used to travel everywhere on the island. More recently I focused on Playa Blanca and built up a faithful client base. I teach day-to-day Spanish, and my clients include a number of “swallows”.

And when the lockdown started?

I’d booked a couple of weeks off anyway, but I’m a workaholic, so I started offering various classes and video conversations, and it took off from there. I’d say 85% of my classes are online, now, and business is much better than it was before.

What are the advantages?

I don’t have to travel, for a start! Then, of course, there’s the safety aspect which is still very much a factor. It also allows me to make better use of my time, letting me split my working day into chunks of one hour, with 15 minute breaks to prepare for the next class.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that I can do this with students anywhere in the world. Most of mine are still here, but I’ve got a few elsewhere.

Has the idea of online learning put anyone off?

Some older students dont like the technology aspect, and others prefer the social element of face-to-face learning, but it’s really a very small percentage.

Do any students have any domestic problems learning at home?

Not really. I have one student in the UK whose little daughter sometimes puts her head round the door, but it’s not a problem.

Is there an upper limit on class sizes online?

The largest group I’ve hosted is seven, but I’m holding a quiz soon and we could get nine or more.

Do you still charge the same fees?

Yes, why wouldn’t I? The preparation and teaching is much the same.

Do you need any special equipment?

Not at all. I normally use my laptop and conduct classes on Facebook’s video messaging service. Upgrading to fibre optic has been a good investment. I’ll send students pdfs of any texts that we’ll be using, and I have a small whiteboard that’s really useful.

How do you get new students?

Word of mouth and by keeping a permanent Facebook presence, offering taster classes.

Four tips for working from home:

  1. Make Time for Marketing Every Day: Keep your “shop front” engaging and fresh, and don’t let clients forget you exist. I find Facebook works for me.
  2. Dress for Success: Don’t be tempted to work in your PJs – even though no one can see us, psychologically we up our game when prepared for work.
  3. Make Your Space: Create a dedicated work area, away from TV and distractions, and let family members know that when you’re there, you’re “at work”.
  4. Set a Start and Finish Time: It’s easy to just do a few emails or complete that project, but working from home is about controlling your life/work balance. Stick to your schedule.

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