English Language Tutors Find New Opportunities in China

In the past, finding clients to tutor could be a difficult experience. The barriers to entry into the tutoring business were that you needed some word of mouth to get going and you were physically constrained by the area that you were in. Both the demand for tutoring and personalities of clients were out of your control because you were stuck with whatever was right around you. Online tutoring has not only made it much easier for you to work on your own schedule and wherever you are comfortable, it also makes it so that you are not limited by your geography. The benefits are now transferring to tutors in the form of Chinese students looking to learn English online. Chinese companies have invested millions into infrastructure to help their students get access to English lessons and those opportunities go to tutors all across America that use their video chat capabilities on the computer to gain access to markets that were previously closed off to them.

Tutoring, in many ways, is like running a small business. You already have a product, which is the tutoring that you offer. The issue that you run into is that the market for tutoring does not allow for much differentiation. Another will be that you can’t scale your business. The way that Microsoft goes from a garage to a massive corporation is that it scaled up to meet the needs of the world rather than what was around you. As a tutor, you will ultimately always be restricted by the hours that you have in a day, but the availability of a Chinese student or the many Chinese students is revolutionary. Think about it this way. There are 330 million people in the US and almost 1.4 billion people in China. If you take the percentage of the American population that are students (around 25%) and apply that to China’s 1.4 billion, you get around 350 million, which means that there is likely more than one school-aged person in China for every person in the US. If you were to refine the US number down to the number of English language tutors, you would see that the supply of tutors could almost never meet the demand.

The tutoring industry has never allowed you to tutor from afar like this in the past. Even at the dawn of video conferencing, it was still to inconsistent in quality to make it feasible for a large scale. Now, tutoring from America can reach new markets the same way that our media can. For example, the film Pacific Rim was not very well received in America. It did well enough, in America with over $100 million in box office, but that was still well under the budget, which was $190 million. The special effects driven film from auteur director Guillermo del Toro would not have received a sequel based on those domestic numbers, but the numbers for Pacific Rim in, obviously, the Pacific Rim were enough to justify it. The film grossed an additional $300 million overseas including $110 million in China (which was more than the US gross), which was enough to justify a sequel. Like with movies, Chinese students looking to learn English are enough to justify a sequel to your English tutoring job.