How to find the best conversational English curriculum

When I first started out as a freelance online English teacher, I had a hard time finding quality curriculum for teaching business speaking English to adults or teenagers. In this article you’ll find a road-map that will help you find the resources you need in order to deliver more value! What you won’t find is a list of links. What is important here are the underlying principles… I’m showing you how to fish 😉

1) Have a firm understanding on your niche

When I say niche, I mean your student/client. If you haven’t focused on a niche yet, you’re doing it wrong. In regards to curriculum acquisition, having a niche means you’ll be able to reliably reuse the curriculum that you find/purchase for more than one student and likely also future students. If you’re teaching general English, that’s ok. We can start with that. Let’s go through a few questions to help you out. I highly recommend writing your answers down somewhere.

  • Think about your favorite student(s)…
    1. What do they do for a living?
    2. Why are they trying to improve their English?
  • Next, think about how you like to teach…
    1. How long do you prefer your classes to be?
    2. What will your class environment look like? 
  • Finally, what does the end-product of your resource need to be?

Please take a moment to write down (or at least think about) a response to each of those questions above. 

For example, my students are adults or teenagers who are likely students, IT specialists, or entrepreneurs who need to gain confidence when speaking. My classes are 1 hour long where we do a video chat & screen share on Zoom. The end-product that I need are basically just images that I upload on Google Docs. Knowing this, I’m ready to identify the proper keywords in order to take the next step…

2) Search bars

Yes, just searching. The strategy here is to use the right keywords. Google also has a fancy schmancy system where you can use special characters in special ways to essentially implement filters directly in the search bar. Using these operators will help you narrow down your search so that you can find EXACTLY what you need. For example, I was looking for conversational curriculum to teach English to adults so I put these in the search bar and looked through a few of the links: 

  • conversational english powerpoint for adults
  • conversational business english powerpoint for adults
  • conversational business english for adults 

The site I wanted to search was TPT because I know that they have lots of curriculum on there so I used the “site:” operator which forces Google to return results only from that site. Personally, I find resources on TPT to be good for me because the publishers on that site either have experience with teaching or are still teaching. These stores are not usually big faceless companies but actual people who take the time to make resources. However, if you’ve got a preference for another site simply replace TPT with that site. 

Using this method will take a bit of time because you might have to dig through at least a few pages until you find some good sources. You may also have to get familiar with the search operators but don’t worry, it’s not that complex. Here is a link with information on search operators:

3) Groups and forums 

Online communities are great and if you find the right one, you can simply ask in there. Don’t underestimate the power of a strong community! I’ve found that the best engagement happens on Facebook groups dedicated specifically to a target niche. If you’re sourcing curriculum for teaching conversational business English to adults then you’re probably working for yourself as a freelance teacher. The search bar on Facebook is your friend here. Go ahead and search for a community with a few key words and make sure to apply the filter so that the only search results are groups. You might have to answer a few questions to join those groups but that’s good because you know that the members are a bit more qualified! Once you’re in, you can search again specifically within the group. These groups usually also have a search bar so I highly recommend also using some of your keywords in their search bars. Taking a look at these communities will also help you better understand the market in general. Don’t rely on just one community! It’s important to be part of a variety of communities because then you will not risk getting only one type of opinion. In my experience, I posted the same content in several communities and I got a wide range of reactions. From people literally saying fuck you several times to others congratulating me. Be aware that different communities appeal to different kinds of people. 

Thank you for taking the time to read through my article. Since you made it to the end, I will now offer a freebie. If you happen to also be teaching conversational business English to adults, then this is great for you: Talk About Investing in Yourself -Powerpoint and Google Slides -ESL for Adults