Interview: James Prior from TEFLPA

James Profile

James Prior, TEFLPA

I received an email last week promoting a new site called TEFLPA. The creator, James Prior, agreed to an interview about the new product. I’ve never taught privately, but for those who do it sounds like this could be a useful tool. What are your views? All comments welcome!

 Hi James. You’ve just contacted me about TEFLPA. What are you after (in a sentence)?

We’re trying to raise awareness of what TEFLPA offers and how it can help English teachers

So, what exactly is TEFLPA?

TEFLPA LogoTEFLPA is a website that allows English teachers to advertise their services to students in their local area anywhere in the world, and manage all of their student attendance, lesson records and student billing on the one platform for free. We also provide the facility for teachers to advertise their services for online lessons via Skype. TEFLPA is particularly good for freelance teachers because it’s free for them to sign up and advertise their services and the free tools on the site allow them to manage all of their student admin in the one place, this includes their own students that they already teach who they can add to the site for free.

How did it come about?

I was teaching English in Chile between 2011 – 2015 and I noticed that there wasn’t one designated site where I could advertise my teaching services which all of the local students knew about, nor was there a dedicated tool for English teaching where you could keep a record of your schedule, student attendance, lesson records and billing all in the one place. At the time this all had to be done on paper or in Excel, even at institutes, and that sometimes led to teachers I knew missing lessons and not successfully keeping track of how much they were owed by their students or just forgetting what they were due to be teaching in their next lesson. I looked for an existing solution to these problems and for a place to advertise my services to get more regular students, as I could make more money through private teaching, but I couldn’t find one and that is what provided the incentive to build TEFLPA. TEFLPA really solves these problems and actually saves a lot of time, which allows teachers to be more productive so that they can offer a better service and get more students.

So is this site really that different from others? What makes it special?

TEFLPA Home Page England

TEFLPA home page

 

Up until the creation of TEFLPA there was no one recognised website purely for English teachers where they could advertise their services and manage their schedule, student attendance, lesson records and billing in the one place, so offering this is a huge selling point for us. The website even sends out automatic, daily lesson reminders to the teachers and as far as we know we are also one of the first websites to combine a booking system with an admin management system that all ties together automatically. Another thing that you may have noticed is that other websites which allow you to advertise your services as an English teacher only permit you to do so for online lessons and this is often alongside other unrelated subjects, whereas TEFLPA is purely focussed on English teaching and allows you to advertise both face-to-face lessons and lessons online via Skype. Even if you don’t want to advertise your services you can still use the free admin tools on TEFLPA, and if you do decide to advertise you can set your own prices, which is very appealing to a lot of teachers because they can earn more per hour teaching privately and TEFLPA provides them with the platform to do that. TEFLPA also gives students the ability to filter teachers by their ratings and hours taught, so the teachers who perform the best and have been teaching the longest will be rewarded and be able to justify charging more for their services. This will help create a fairer marketplace for English teachers based upon their skills and teaching experience, which I know a lot of people in the profession have been waiting for for a long time.

It certainly sounds interesting! How long has the site been up and running?

Around 2.5 months.

How’s it going so far? Many takers? Where’s it popular?

We’ve already got over 600 teachers signed up at this time and we’re approaching 4000 unique users of the site. These include teachers from all over the world and the countries most represented currently are Spain, Chile, Colombia and England. We’ve only really been advertising on Facebook up until now so we expect numbers to increase significantly once word spreads about the site and the services that we offer and when we start opening up other advertising channels.

So you’re not aiming the site at a certain part of the world…

It’s a global site so we’re aiming at all parts of the world. English teachers anywhere can use the site and we’re currently setting it up to be translated into other languages to aid the student booking process. The first language will be Spanish and then we’ll go from there.

Tell us more about your background. Have you been in ELT long? Are you still teaching?

I’m not teaching now because all of my time is dedicated to managing the TEFLPA website and business. Up until the start of 2015 I was still teaching English in Chile and I started teaching there in late 2011. This was my first real foray into English teaching, I really enjoyed it and it led me to create TEFLPA. Before that I worked in London in the corporate world where I was involved in business consulting, internal audit and process improvement type work so this helped in having the idea for the site and developing the concept.

The site looks pretty professional – did you make it yourself?

TEFLPA Inside the Site England

screenshots of the site

Thank you, I was behind the concept, layout and navigational structure of the site and also did the majority of the design work. For the coding side I have a team that deals with that and all of the other technical aspects of the site.

What’s your aim for this new venture? Is it a money maker, an experiment…? What’s in it for you?

It’s a business that we hope will be a win-win for both us and English teachers. If it works as we expect it will give teachers more freedom and enable them to get more private students and make more money, which in turn will give us a profitable business.

I remember during my time in South Korea that everyone kept their private teaching a bit covert. This was similar in Vietnam…

Yes that was a consideration when building the site because you have to strike the right balance between teacher privacy and providing potential students with enough information to effectively use the booking system. The only thing that is publicly visible in terms of your work as a teacher are your prices, the amount of hours that you have taught via bookings made through TEFLPA and the times that are blocked out on your calendar when you are unavailable. However, the calendar does not publicly show if you are teaching other lessons when you’re marked unavailable so you could be unavailable for any reason if that makes sense. TEFLPA does automatically calculate your income for you but this is visible to you only when you sign in to your account and is not publicly available.

Can anyone who reads this blog help you in any way?

If anyone reading this blog likes the sound of TEFLPA it would be great if they could visit the website and sign up at www.teflpa.com to give it a try. Obviously if they like it and could recommend us to their colleagues and friends and share our link this would be really helpful and much appreciated too. We also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/teflpa and a Twitter page at www.twitter.com/teflpa if anyone wants to find out more about us there.

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