Online language courses are super popular. So much so that the market will be worth 21.2 billion dollars by 2027. Just looking at that number can make any language enthusiast want to start teaching languages online immediately.
This growth is based on many factors, including the convenience of learning a language from the comfort of your home and the ability to learn from native speakers. The latter is always considered a big plus when it comes to learning a new language.
If you are a native or advanced speaker who is also passionate about teaching, you’re likely a great fit. The only problem is that many other people fit the criteria, so you’re looking at a big market where instructors compete to attract more learners.
If you want to teach languages online and make your courses profitable, you have to come up with a online course idea.
In other words: find your niche. Don’t be afraid to explore and try something new. Here are a few online language course trends to consider:
Business language skills
Remote work is on the rise, and so is the need to communicate well in a business environment. This is a great opportunity if you’re already familiar with business terminology, but you can also do your own research and learn before creating the course.
For example, I took a Business Spanish class taught by a university professor who simply learned the terms and found the best examples. However, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to teach English or another language with billions of learners since many people want to work for big companies that aren’t US or EU-based.
Yes, I am still proud of myself for being able to insert the word “emprendedor” (engl. entrepreneur) in conversations whenever I get the chance.
Language as a hobby
People simply get to like a certain language so much that they want to learn it. With so much music, books, TV shows, and other forms of art and entertainment, it’s no wonder that they dream of being able to hold a conversation in a foreign language.
Think manga fans who learn Japanese and Viking aficionados who want to learn a Scandinavian language (Hej!). If people pay for woodworking and sewing courses, why wouldn’t they pay for quality language learning ones?
It’s a wonderful opportunity to attract a niche audience since you’re likely to find a tight-knit community that can recommend your courses and people that usually hang out in the same online spaces.
Heritage language learners
Heritage learners usually want to learn or improve their language skills because they want a stronger connection with their roots. They are usually the children of immigrants who have some language gaps or don’t speak the family language at all since the dominant culture (i.e., the country where they grew up) had a strong influence.
They are different from other beginners and even hobbyists because they are also most likely very interested in the culture as a whole and would appreciate a course that can make them feel closer to their countries of origin. You can insert many historical and cultural references as a unique selling point, to differentiate yourself from other competitors.
Courses for different levels
Many people start with the mentality that teaching beginners is easier, but this isn’t always the case.
In reality, you’ll find learners with various language skills, and many beginners actually try to go to a more formal place or try one-on-one sessions. This isn’t to say that you can’t motivate beginners through online courses, but you might also want to consider branching out a bit.
Try to find out where there is a bigger need for beginner, medium, or advanced courses and see how you could best help each category.
Courses for professionals
Business language skills are highly sought after, so that’s why they get a special mention. On the other hand, if you’re familiar with a certain field, you can tap into a niche that really needs the knowledge.
Many job seekers want an easier way to learn specific terms since they don’t usually have the time and energy to go through textbooks by themselves. They want more engaging online lessons.
For example, you could teach law terminology. Other very profitable fields are medicine and nursing. Of course, you can also go with banking, tourism, retail, food services, and even IT.
Exam prep courses
Test prep is a very popular niche. People who need to pass a foreign language exam are also highly motivated learners.
For example, they are students or future students who want to be admitted to a foreign university. Another learner pool consists of professionals who need to demonstrate a certain level of competency.
While some learners look for one-on-one tutoring, others might prefer to prepare through asynchronous courses because they’re usually more affordable. That’s where you can step in and offer a great solution.
In many parts of the world, formal education curriculums are focused on grammar and writing. Consequently, many learners haven’t had the chance to practice speaking, which leads to pronunciation issues.
In this case, they want to improve their accents so others can better understand them. Pronunciation courses teach learners how to articulate vowels and consonants, where to place emphasis on specific syllables, and usually how to avoid common mistakes that non-native speakers make.
This could be your niche if you want to work with more advanced speakers and have an interest in phonology.
Courses for different age levels
Offering online courses for different age levels is a common way to differentiate yourself from competitors. First and foremost, you have to figure out your target audience really well. Working with children is very different from working with adults. Moreover, teaching teens is different from teaching young adults.
For instance, children may not be the ideal audience for a self-paced course since they need more instructor guidance. However, it’s not impossible as long as you understand what it takes to teach children online. Teenagers, on the other hand, have independent study skills and are already interested in exam prep, among other things.
Teach a dialect or minority language
While this falls into the broader language market, if you speak a certain dialect, you may be able to carve out an even smaller niche.
For example, many people want to learn Brazilian Portuguese instead of European Portuguese. Others may be planning to move to Catalonia, Spain, and they would like to also know Catalan.
Plus, language enthusiasts want to learn more about a language with fewer speakers than dominant ones, such as the Irish language, compared to English.
You can also stand out from the competition by combining different niches. Many sub-categories go great together!
Think exam prep and industry-specific skills — English tests for future nurses or lawyers. Heritage and dialect can also intersect and have many learners if you know where to look for them.
Of course, it’s up to you to do the research and see what people will actually want, but it’s safe to say that teaching languages online will always be “in.”
Creating online language courses is a great opportunity to earn extra money, or you can turn it into a full-time business, whether you’re a teacher right now or not.
It can be discouraging to see that there are many similar courses available on the market, but this doesn’t mean that you need to give up! You just have to find a niche with fewer competitors or combine niches to create something unique.