If you’re a freelance language teacher, you’ve probably realised that there’s a limit to how much money you can make by teaching 1:1s.
You may find yourself limited by the number of hours in a day and, let’s face it, you’re probably already teaching much more than you should be.
So what do you do? How can you grow your business further and impact more students?
That’s where group courses come in!
Group courses are magical products that allow you to make a bigger impact, expand your reach and scale your business to new heights.
But there’s a catch: it’s not as easy as just grouping some students together and teaching them on a weekly basis until they leave (sorry).
Confused? Don’t be. In this article, I’m explaining everything you need to know about creating an online language group course that benefits you and your students.
What types of online language courses are there?
First things first, you need to decide what type of course you want to create. This will probably depend on who you’re helping and what you’re teaching. But we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at some of the most popular types of online language group courses.
- Digital pre-recorded courses
These are asynchronous courses that your students complete in their own time. You create, package and sell the content, and they study it whenever they want.
There’s tech knowledge and marketing and sales skills involved in creating a great digital language course, but it’s a fantastic option for teachers who want to create more passive income or even create a lower-cost on-ramp offer that leads people to a bigger course.
My advice? Validate your offer first by selling it in a workshop or live format. That way you will know how popular it is before you put tons of hours of work into planning and creating it!
- Hybrid courses
This is basically a combination of a group course and a digital course. You provide some of your course content in a pre-recorded format, and the rest in live lessons, Q&A calls or feedback sessions.
Hybrid courses are brilliant because they give you the best of both worlds. You can leverage your time AND still enjoy the in-contact part of your work!
This is also a great idea if you are still creating your language group course idea. If you drip-feed the self-paced content to your students, you can buy yourself time to adapt it based on their feedback as you go. Win win!
- Live online courses
These are more similar to traditional group language classes. You have class at the same time on the same day every week with the same students.
Easy, right? Hold on. Here’s that catch I mentioned earlier.
Nowadays, language students want quicker, more tangible results than studying towards a certain level or exam. These things don’t make them excited in the same way they do for passionate language nerds like us!
So, instead of running year-long courses that take students to a certain level, try breaking them up into smaller products that clearly show what’s in it for your students.
What this does is shift the focus from language to creating a solution for someone’s problem. And that is exactly what will make your online group course sell.
What’s involved in designing a language course?
Ok! You’ve chosen the type of online group course you want to create. Now it’s time to start the process of designing it. I have broken this down into three important steps you need to take.
- Get to know your audience
I could give you plenty of tips on how to come up with a good language group course topic but no one knows this better than your students. After all, they are the ones who need it!
Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you already have students you want to group together?
- What challenges are they facing? (Make these super specific)
- What language goals do they have?
- What questions do people ask you over and over again?
The most magical ideas don’t come out of nowhere. Choose a specific group of students you want to help, listen to what they need and create THAT.
- Define the problem and the transformation
Your ideal students have something in common, and it’s not their age or their location (although they might share these things).
It’s actually a PROBLEM.
Specifically, a problem that’s preventing them from reaching a tangible language-related goal. Your course should be built around helping them solve that problem and reach (or at least get closer to) their goal.
Most traditional language courses are built around the CEFR levels. They group students together, and work through textbooks until the students reach A1, A2, B1 and so on.
If you’ve tried this approach, perhaps you already realised that it’s not working? Well, that’s because it’s outdated.
From a marketing perspective, helping people reach a certain level is quite an empty promise. Most students don’t study the language for the sake of studying the language, and no one goes to sleep at night dreaming about reaching B2 level. What they actually want is to reach a milestone that improves their life in some way.
That might be to have a lovely conversation with their partners’ parents in French. Or to communicate more easily with their international colleagues.
Most people don’t care about official language levels. They care about the real life results, which is what you should be selling as the tangible outcome of your language course!
Worried about promising to deliver a result? I hear you, teacher. Listen to this podcast episode for my opinion on this topic.
- Decide where to host your course
The outcome of your course will probably influence what tech tools you need to host and promote it.
Are there lots of pre-recorded videos? Do you have lots of bonus materials to include? Or is it mainly a live course?
Pretty much all of my courses have self-paced components, so I use ThriveCart to host the videos and all the materials that go with them. Students can login to study whenever they want and keep all the products they’ve bought from me in one place. It’s super useful!
If your course is live and you don’t have enough materials to justify purchasing something like this YET, then it’s perfectly fine to use Zoom or Google Meet for the sessions and a Google Drive folder to store the materials and homework tasks.
I know lots of teachers who use these tools and it works really well.
There are tons of other course platforms out there but I like ThriveCart best because it’s not only user-friendly but also a super good deal, at only $500 for lifetime access. You can use my affiliate link if you want to invest in it!
How do you structure a language course?
Lastly, once you’ve identified the problem your students are facing, you basically have the content there in front of you so this part is easy(ish).
- Write down the overarching goal
Start by writing down two things: where your ideal students are right now and where they will be by the end of your course.
This will help you figure out the overarching structure for your entire language course as well as your big marketing promise (aka the transformation).
- Choose the module topics
Next, plan your modules based on the overarching goal.
What do you need to teach them so they can reach the end goal? Do these things fit together nicely in categories? Great! You have your module themes.
I recommend keeping these to a maximum of six modules because otherwise it can get a bit long. And the longer your course is the lower the completion rate will be – especially if you’re creating a digital course.
- Decide on the lessons
Chances are you will need several lessons within each module to cover all the topics you need to teach your students everything WITHOUT overwhelming them.
So, break down the module topics into sections that they need to know.
For example, if you’re a Greek teacher helping tourists communicate on holiday in Greece, you might have a module for transport and then several lessons covering different types of travel.
Be careful not to include things for the sake of it. It’s better to have fewer lessons in one module instead of adding extra things they don’t really need to know.
What I have found to be more valuable is courses that are built around getting students to take action because this is the ONLY way people will ever see results.
- Create the homework/tasks
Will you include homework in your course? Or end of module tasks?
As you know, these can be great for consolidating knowledge and reminding students of their progress as they work through the course.
Think about how often you want to include tasks and how often students will want to complete them. Again, more doesn’t always mean better!
- Figure out what to do about bonuses
If you’ve ever seen a typical sales page, you will probably have noticed that on top of masses of course content, most business owners also add in TONS of bonuses.
That’s because it increases the perceived value of the offer and theoretically makes people more likely to buy because it’s such an amazing deal.
I used to do this too. In the first edition of my signature business course, the Rocket, I included tons of extra things I thought people would find useful. And they did.
But I realised it was actually kind of overwhelming. So, I recently decided NOT to include any bonuses in the newer versions of the program, the Rocket Take-Off and the Rocket Accelerator. And guess what? People take action!
My point is, while bonuses might add value and look attractive, think carefully about how necessary they are.
If they’re crucial, can you include them as part of your core language course? Or if they’re nice-to-haves, can you try scrapping them?
Creating an online language group course is a necessary step if you want to take your business to new heights.
Admittedly, it takes a LOT of hard work, organisation and planning, but when you find that magical idea, it’s absolutely amazing. Not only does an online group course give you the opportunity to help more people, but it also enables you to scale your business without sacrificing quality.
Do you want support with creating a group language course? Here’s how I can help:
- If you’re ready to test, create and launch a sustainable and profitable signature language group course, the Rocket Accelerator is for you.
- If you’re quite new to building your business and you want help creating your very first offer, take a look at the Rocket Take-off.
- If you’re new to my world and you want to get to know me better first, join my email list. I send really great emails specifically for language teachers in business.