Make money teaching your native tongue

By Gary Throup
In Translation
Apr 3rd, 2017

Have you thought about teaching your native tongue?


It’s true that many language learners are learning a second, third, or even fourth language for the intrinsic value of that language. They are opening the door to another culture, to another world. Another way to think, and to expand the percentage of the world’s population they are able to interact with.

Then there are those that want, or need, another language for its instrumental value.  They want to advance in life and create new professional opportunities, or alternatively, they simply cannot survive without knowledge of another language. The benefits of learning another language are obviously substantial.  

But what about your native language? The language that you got for free as a child. Is that worth anything?

In a word, yes. It has much more value than many realise. While there are many ways to use your native language in a professional capacity, in my mind, two words come to mind when I consider L1 (your native tongue) value: Translation and Teaching.  

Teaching, being my profession, is the focus of this article. Teaching your own language to foreigners, especially if you do it abroad, is a fantastic and rewarding experience. Qualifying as a language teacher is a key to travel, discovery, and possibly a new career. So where do you start?

While it is a fact that some languages are in demand more than others, the chances are, if you speak one of the big Western European languages as a native (or to a near-native level), there is a market for it.

English still dominates most markets, but Spanish, French, German and Italian also have their learners, even in the smallest city. Look into language teaching for business, and you will discover that there is demand for yet more languages (Scandinavian, East Asian etc.), depending on the nature of the enterprise.

Research your market, this is fundamental. Will employees in an Iranian oil export company need to learn Welsh to do their job? Doubtful. However, other European and East Asian languages would be more useful in this case, Japan, South Korea and the European Union being the chief importers of Iranian oil.  This is just an example. But check your market.  

So, where do you start? Most major languages have one or more official bodies that train teachers to impart their language to foreign learners. This is an investment, of time and money, and is well worth it.

Not only will you have official accreditation that will get you taken seriously by potential employers, but also you will actually learn how to teach. Being a native, or having a near-native level alone is not a qualification to be a teacher. If you are serious, spend the time and money. And never stop developing as a professional.

If you want to live abroad, and are not sure how to go about it, start with the basics. Get a teaching qualification. Check the market, and research the culture. Will you fit in? How easy or difficult will your life be there? Look at the economic aspect. What do most jobs offer? How much does it actually cost to live there?  Investigate your options, and don’t limit yourself.

Be flexible, and you just might feel that shiver of excitement, that magic moment when you realise that you can do it, that an adventure awaits, and that your life will never be the same again.

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About "" Has 4 Posts

Gary is a writer. He writes songs, poetry and articles for TranslatorThoughts, of course! He has a passion for languages and has studied (at various times and to various levels) Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and a few bits of other languages such as Hebrew and Persian. He lives in Spain and teaches English for a living.

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