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Is it possible to make money from language learning before you’re fluent in your target foreign language? To some, this question may seem extremely dumb. There’s no way you can make money from a skill you haven’t mastered yet.
Right? No. Learning another language is an exception because the process requires just as much skill as the final result.
From teaching others how to learn languages, to teaching others how to teach languages, to teaching others the best resources, the possibilities to make some cold hard cash are limitless.
You just have to be willing to stretch your mind a bit and get creative. Most of these ways will require you putting yourself out there and flexing your business skills a bit. From the comforts of your home, of course.
Yes, all of these positions are remote. They’re mostly for those with entrepreneurial mindsets as you’re most likely going to be your own boss. And you know that whole saying, “you have to have money to make money?”
Well… that only applies for two of these positions (Etsy and Blogging). For the rest, there are absolutely no start-up costs.
What you’re not going to find on this list is interpreting, translating, transcribing, or customer service. Because those jobs would actually require you be fluent in your target language. Shocker, I know.
These jobs are truly for language learners in the absolute beginner to intermediate level. These jobs are for go-getters and for people open to a bit of creative thinking.
Nothing too hard. Nothing too time consuming. And nothing too mind-numbing. They can all be done as 100% side hustles.
Meaning part-time positions you won’t have to dedicate your lives too. So get excited! Now on to the list.
When it comes to affiliate marketing, you could truthfully advertise language learning services without ever actually learning a foreign language. But it’s not likely you’ll build up any kind of audience or credibility.
People are much more likely to trust someone whose actually used the product. As with any niche.
So if there’s a language teaching product, platform, or service that you love I fully recommend you look into its affiliate program. Most applications’ affiliate programs will be hosted through affiliate marketplaces.
All you have to do is sign up, using the online channel you intend to promote on, and you’ll receive a commission of each purchase someone makes using your affiliate links. A “commission” is just fancy talk for a “piece of the pie.”
Commission percentages vary by affiliate program, but the bit of money you receive from each purchase can really add up over time. Keep in mind that it’s entirely ethical to try out a platform solely because you’d like to promote it to your audience.
Always try it out first before promoting, because readers can always sense false testimonials. There’s also always the chance that the platform isn’t actually all that great. If you promote a product, platform, or service that sucks, you’ll not only lose credibility among your readers, but you’ll likely face lots of refunds and canceled subscriptions.
The best affiliate programs are ones that pay you for however long your recommended user uses the platform. This could be for multiple years, and you’ll constantly receive a percentage of what they pay. But this kind of affiliate program is only possible for subscription-based services.
If you’re a fan of blogs or YouTube, you’ve probably noticed that Amazon links are virtually everywhere. Amazon’s Affiliate program is by far the most popular one out there since…. well everyone uses Amazon. Commissions vary by product category, and readers are much more likely to click through to a source they already trust.
But when it comes to promoting language learning products, Amazon obviously isn’t your best choice. Most consumers use Amazon for clothes, homeware, technology, and beauty products. You’ll find a pretty diverse plethora of language-based products only if you’re willing to look for them.
The best commissions Amazon offers are for their very own services though, like Amazon Music Unlimited or Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial. When trying to connect with an audience of language learners are Audible’s 30-day Free Trial, Amazon Kindle Unlimited, and possibly Amazon Prime Video’s Free Trial.
All 3 services can be really useful for unconventional language learning, due to the large variety of languages offered. Audiobooks have been a game changer among language learners (listening practice, hello) and Audible’s free trial offers 2 free in any language you want. So definitely worth at least including a link to.
Amazon Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited written ebooks in 50+ languages, and Amazon Prime Video offers videos in 50+ languages. Check out my post on the Masterguide to Amazon Prime Video for Language Learning to really advertise this service to its full potential.
To find services tailored specifically to language learning, my 3 favorite affiliate marketplaces are Share-A-Sale, Awin, and ClickBank. You’re able to explicitly search for “language learning” merchants, and the amount of choices available is almost overwhelming.
Remember you don’t necessarily need an online following to become a successful affiliate marketer. If you’re a member in online language learning communities (Facebook Groups included), involved in language-based forums, or genuinely have tons of friends also learning foreign languages (you’ll need a social media account too), you can totally include affiliate links in the posts you share.
Selling Language Learning Printables (On Etsy!)
To create language learning printables that are actually useful you actually need to know what it takes to learn a language. As a language learner, you know exactly what your target audience of fellow language learners are looking for.
They’re looking for simple efficient ways to track their language progress, plan out their language goals, and organize their study sessions. Ideally, any good language learning printable is one that’ll undoubtedly upgrade one’s study routine.
Printables should include a nice mix of practicality and aesthetics. But with an emphasis on practicality. Take a look at the language learning printable bundle I sell on Etsy in the image below for some inspiration to get started yourself.
I included a nice mix of pages, that would provide structure in the study routines of language learners of all levels. Guided study pages can be especially appealing among beginner language learners.
You just have to know the keywords to target and prices to set, and soon enough your printables will start to get clicks. The more the better though. You want a shop that looks legitimate and credible.
I emphasize Etsy since the ecommerce platform is literally for handmade items, but regardless of the platform you choose, you need a shop that looks professional, consistent, and niche-specific.
The task of coming up with new printable ideas to sell is so much easier for someone whose familiar with the process of learning a language. The ups and downs, frustrations, slips ups, disappointments, excitements, and the journey as a whole.
Remember that the only reason most people make digital purchases is to solve a problem or better their life in some way. So make sure that your printables are bring real value to your consumers.
Printables can even be mini ebooks written by yourself that simplify the process of language learning. Or tutorials that explain how to maximize time efficiency.
You’ll have much more success in creating printables that reflect your areas of expertise.
Like possibly guided study printables specifically for Spanish or Latin languages. Or grammar printables for Mandarin Chinese learners.
Here’s a mini list of Etsy searches for you to garner some inspiration from (And hey, maybe you’ll even find a product worth your time):
Oh, and if this wasn’t already obvious, you don’t need to sell any physical product at all. They’re called printables because your customer can buy and choose to print them out but you definitely don’t have to print and ship them out yourself.
Creating a Language Learning YouTube
YouTube is a bit of a sensitive topic among aspiring entrepreneurs since it’s notably difficult to actually find success on the platform. But the unique slant to your channel would be your killer language learning tips and language experiences.
While there are already quite a few language learning channels out there, the niche is by no means saturated. There’s room for you to make a mark and possibly talk about things only learners of certain languages experience.
YouTube also provides an advantage over most other social channels by sharing your videos in viewer’s “related videos” and “recommended videos.” So you can still receive plenty of clicks without necessarily ranking high for certain search terms.
You’ve have to patient with gaining traction on YouTube, but its worth the wait. Once you reach enough views and watch hours to monetize your channel, your videos will generate revenue forever.
And if you ever decide to stop, you’ll still have a nice source of passive income (even though your views will probably take a hit eventually.)
So regardless of how annoying they may seem, enable ads on your videos as soon as you’re able to do so. Fortunately, today’s ads are more personalized to the consumer and video content, so you’ll be more likely to actually get clicks.
And if you’re doubtful that someone can actually make it on YouTube by sharing language learning content, then I definitely suggest you check out the channels who already have.
A few favorites of mine include:
- Lindie Botes (A polyglot queen with 200k+ subscribers)
- Ikenna (A polyglot king with 600k+ subscribers)
- Lindsay Williams (Another polyglot queen!)
So yes you can. Your channel can even be used as means for you to track your experience or hold yourself accountable.
Just a few things that’ll give you a leg up in the competition:
- Talk about how you became a polyglot (only if you are one of course!)
- Talk about your experience as a foreigner in another country
- Make language specific content; like the “Perfect French Study Routine” instead of the “Perfect Language Study Routine” (Or make both! Your main task initially will just be experimenting with what topics attract the most watchers.)
Blogging about the learning process
Kind of like the blog you’re reading right now. While I can personally vouch that blogging is a slow process and requires hours of work before generating any revenue, I have reason to believe a blog can turn into an amazing source of income.
There’s a really motivational community of language bloggers out there that a lot of language learners don’t even realize. Seriously, check out my post on 10 Pinterest Boards ALL language learners should be following. Those boards are all run by language bloggers.
A lot of learners are desperate for authentic information on how to both simplify and speed up the language acquisition process. Myself included! You don’t have to be a polyglot or linguistics major in order to have high-value knowledge worth sharing.
Experience is the best teacher after all. But just like with YouTube, you have to be patient. You’ve got to put in the work; including advertising, networking, designing promo pieces, and writing.
Keep in mind that if your budget allows it, you can totally hire freelance workers to do all the promotional work and social media marketing, while you focus on creating killer written content. I do all the work myself and can swear to you that blogging is just like a full-time job.
Just without the waking up early, commuting, dealing with coworkers, answering to a boss, working under a rigid schedule, and going to bed absolutely exhausted everyday. So I think you can see why it’s at least worth a try.
But I’ve heard it said many times that anyone can become a blogger but not everyone can be a blogger. So you’re encouraged to set one up, but remember that it’s not for everyone.
If you really want to make it work out, you have to be willing to push past the money-less days, marketing flops, networking fails, and poorly received blog posts. Blogging has a very steep learning curve.
And even if you don’t necessarily like to write, owning a blog is so much more than that. To ever generate any real revenue, you’ll have to create products, courses, or services, along with enabling ads, and finding affiliates to promote.
Eventually, you could even hire a blog writer, so that you’re able to focus on the real money makers. You don’t have to know what products you’ll be offering when you first start out, but I encourage you to keep them in the back of your mind.
And every time you sit down to study your target language, think about specific methods and tools you use that other learners might not know about. Think about the frequent questions you ask yourself, the frequent frustrations you face, and the frequent confusions you encounter.
If you’re facing them, chances are other language learners are facing them too. Before creating a “language learning” blog though, you should niche down even more.
Language learning is incredibly broad, and it’s always harder to find success in a niche that tens of thousands of bloggers already fit into. While you can eventually branch out a bit more, you should start your blog with a focus on a sub-niche.
Like “how to learn German” or “how to successfully learn a language at a university.” Narrowing down to a specific language will always be more appealing for learners of that language, but bear in mind that you’ll also be limiting views from learners of other languages.
So if your blog is focused on one language, make sure it’s a popular one. The top 10 languages listed on Duolingo should be just fine. It’s always nice to add a “travel” slant to your blog as well.
Many newbie bloggers fail to realize that their blog is a business, not a hobby. If you want to make money with your blog, you have to treat it like a business.
Regularly think of new products or services to offer, content to write, emails to send, and promotional campaigns. Blogging alone is not going to make you money.
The tools I use for all my blogging endeavours include:
- SiteGround (My #1 investment to date. You’ll need somewhere to host your site)
- Tailwind (My #2 investment to date. For content automation on Pinterest, my biggest traffic driver)
- MailChimp (for email marketing and newsletters)
- WordPress.org (not to be confused with wordpress.com)
Creating Online Language Learning Courses
Sharing courses online is easier today than ever before. Literally anyone can take the create a course and publish it for the world to see.
I knw what you’re thinking though– how the *bleep* can I make a course about a language I’m still learning? Well, you can’t.
But you can make a course on how to learn a language. As in the process of language learning. You can fill the course up with memory techniques you use, organization hacks, efficient note-taking tricks, or literally anything else that has to do with learning a language.
Because as much as people want to learn languages, they also want to learn how to learn languages. I know, trippy right? Anything to save some time and reach fluency faster.
What you’re offering them is that chance to at least minorly shave off a bit of the time they’ll need to spend learning the language. A chance to actually enjoy the language study process (because lets face it, study of any kind isn’t naturally enjoyable.)
And no, you don’t need money, extensive knowledge, a degree, credential, or teaching experience. You just need to know what you’re talking about.
Teaching a class on Skillshare or Udemy is 100% free. Plus both platforms are literally “course marketplaces” so people can find you without you doing any advertising. (Even though personal advertising is definitely recommended for maximum reach.)
Once you make the course, you virtually don’t ever have to touch it ever again. Passive income at its finest. Of course, you’ll need to put some research in initially to figure out what people are even searching for.
As great as your course is, it could be a total flop if there’s simply no demand for it.
Just to demonstrate that language learning courses can totally be successful, check out my post on 20 FREE Language learning courses offered on Skillshare. Or if you’re an Anki User, this course on How to learn anything with Anki demonstrates the flexibility you should take in your mindset to course creation.
Bear in mind that Skillshare is a creative courses marketplace, so any creative angle you take to your teaching approach will likely lead to more engagement.
And check out this best-selling Udemy course on How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language. When there are no specials running, this course goes for $114.99 so it’s definitely possible for you to make some serious cash sharing your language learning expertise.
Be sure to read the requirements for whichever course platform you sign up for, as teaching regulations are quite strict. Courses will be removed if they don’t meet certain guidelines.
That in itself could be enough motivation for you to host a course yourself, and set the price yourself, but traffic will be nonexistent if you don’t have an adequate way of promoting. For self-hosted courses, I recommend Teachable.
The money you’ll make varies significantly so I can’t give you a set percentage, but bear in mind that both Skillshare and Udemy take a percentage of the money you make. I still strongly recommend them if you’re new to creating courses and your online following is small.
I even have a few courses available on Skillshare if you’d like to check them out here. All free with Skillshare’s 2-month free trial. You’ll also gain access to 10000+ other creative video courses.
Sharing Online Language Teaching Courses
Sharing online courses is as simple as posting a link to the course page of someone offering you a small commission.
All you need is some kind of online presence. Both Awin and Share-A-Sale are both homes to sellers of courses. And by courses, I mean multi-hundred-dollar courses that took months to make and industry expertise.
Or you can choose to find bloggers or influencers who have paid courses in the language learning niche, and ask about sponsoring their course. Again, this comes back to affiliate marketing.
You’ll get a commission for every sale you drive, and you don’t really have to do any work. Of course, the bigger your online following the better, and the more credible your online presence is, the better.
Like I mentioned earlier in this article, it’s much easier for other language learners to trust recommendations from real language learners. If it’s in your budget, it’d be most ethical for you to enroll in the course yourself first and then sponsor it based on your own personal experience.
But if your audience is a bit more frugal, and maybe you are too, you can link to Skillshare courses free of charge without ever contacting the course creator.
There’s even a whole section on Skillshare dedicated to “Languages.”
There’s even a whole section on Skillshare dedicated to “Languages.” And on each and every single course, you’ll see a share box like the one pictured below.
So you’re free to go crazy posting links to courses on online forums or within online language learning communities. Giving your own personal testimonial will always drive more clicks though.
You can even design pins on Pinterest that directly link to these “affiliate links.” So if someone clicks through on that pin, they’ll be redirected to the course, hopefully sign up, and you’ll automatically earn a commission.
I always tell people who do this to keep it classy. You never want come across as spammy. Recommend courses specific to your niche, that you enjoy, and that bring real value to your target audience.
This form of affiliate marketing is one you can easily do without a substantial online presence. You could even send links to friends or family. And you can include links on your personal social media accounts, like your Instagram bio.
You’ll need to figure out the right way to promote the course though. As a language learner yourself, you know what attracts knowledge-hungry minds.
On pins, Facebook posts, Tweets, Reddit comments, YouTube comments, etc. you’ll want an authentic statement that promises amazing results without sounding spammy.
Something like “If anyone’s looking for some extra help with language memory retention, here’s the course I used to improve mine.” Keep it kind of casual, and make it sound more like a suggestion than an advert.
Especially if you have an online following, you don’t want to promote courses that hurt your credibility.
Create a RedBubble Shop of products with phrases in your target language
You definitely don’t have to be fluent in a language to know some common phrases, funny phrases, and slang terms. Print-on-demand marketplaces are growing like crazy, and for good reason.
All sellers have to do is produce the graphic design, and the site (RedBubble) prints the design on any item that consumers want. Your graphic designs can be entirely textual by the way.
You don’t have to deal with shipping, customer service, or printing. You create the design once and sell it forever. Since the marketplace is quite competitive, your unique angle could be in producing designs showcasing phrases, words, or quotes in your target language.
Like French or Italian. And then you’ll be able to attract an international audience, along with other people learning your target language.
The more of a unique, artistic (possibly indie) flair you add to your designs, the more success they’ll likely have on RedBubble. To get started, you’ll need a design application like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or Canva Pro.
Your background needs to be transparent in order to be printed on products. The array of items available to be printed on is very extensive.
- Water bottles
Your designs can be as simple or extravagant as you like. You’ll just need to experiment at the beginning to see what sells and what doesn’t.
RedBubble definitely has a learning curve as well. Along with all print-on-demand services, so remember to be patient with your progress.
Selling products containing words in your target language is great for attracting consumers whose first language isn’t English, but you’ll likely only receive purchases if the language you’re learning is a popular one.
So designing graphics containing French, Spanish, Italian, and German terms will sell better than those containing Indonesian, Urdu, or Hebrew. I wish it wasn’t so– but that’s just the cold hard truth.
Keep in mind that RedBubble’s primary audience resides in the United States, so while graphics may include foreign terminology, you should still consider adding in an element that resonates with young Americans.
Just look at whats trending on Redbubble to get an idea of designs that sell well. Then, without plagiarizing, find a way to incorporate popular images, ideas, or patterns into your artwork.
The more dope your designs, the more clicks you’ll attract. So if you already know you don’t have a creative bone in your body, go ahead and skip this method.
Teach English to young speakers of your target language
I say young speakers because they’re more likely to be proficient in English than older speakers of your target language. And since the whole point of this article is to make money off your language learning skills before you’re fluent, that’s a crucial factor.
I’ve heard from multiple remote English teachers that children mostly converse in English, even if it is a bit hard to understand. But even if they do start to speak in their native language, you’ll likely know exactly what they’re saying.
Because in all honestly, your proficiency in your target language likely parallels a child’s proficiency in their native tongue. So you and a 4-year old child who speaks Mandarin Chinese aren’t too different in the limitations of what you’re able to comprehend.
Many Asian parents want their children to be fluent in English so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding prospective students. Bear in mind that unless you have a teaching degree or credential, you’ll be stuck as an independent tutor instead of a licensed teacher paid by a teaching abroad organization.
Both could be desirable choices depending on your lifestyle, time availability, and financial expectations. Independent tutoring is extremely flexible and can be a quite short-term thing if you so desire.
Plus it allows you to get “your feet a bit wet” instead of taking the plunge into hours of studying just to get a teaching credential for a job you end up hating. Hypothetically speaking, anyway.
English Tutor Freelance positions aren’t at all hard to find using freelancing platforms like Upwork. And English tutoring jobs are available in abundance on job seeking websites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter.
Just look at this description for one English tutoring position on Indeed!
You get to work from home. Make $15-$23 per hour. Choose times that work for you. And you don’t even need any Chinese speaking skills! Crazy right?
If you don’t have a teaching credential, you’ll definitely have a harder time securing a job, so positions not associated with English teaching organizations will be your best bet.
While Chinese students initially appear to be the primary demographic in this industry, you’ll find English tutoring positions for nearly speakers of nearly all languages. As someone learning Vietnamese, I can confirm that English is considered by many foreigners to be a key to a better life.
I’m by no means fluent (yet!) in Vietnamese, but I know I’m more than capable of teaching a Vietnamese child English. And chances are I’d even learn some more Vietnamese in the process.
But if you are trying to get fluent…
The two apps I recommended to language learners of all levels, regardless of how good you think your current resources are, are Innovative Language and Rocket Language. 2 hidden gems that get lost behind the big boys like Duolingo and Babbel (which are significantly less effective, speaking from personal experience.)
Rocket Languages is a multi-platform application; accessible on both desktop and mobile.
Rocket Languages uses the key strategies that successful polyglots use to learn languages, which includes:
1. Making the BEST USE of limited time: Rocket is designed so that you can learn at your own pace and in your own time.
2. Understanding EXACTLY how the language and culture works: You get in-depth, step by step instructions on how the language works (in English), as well as valuable cultural tips
3. REINFORCE what you learn so that it sticks forever: Our scientifically designed Testing algorithm re-displays words and phrases that you are weak on until they stick in your head like glue.
4. Practice SPEAKING and SOUNDING like a native: The Rocket system has several features that prompt you to speak out loud. A key plank to your success.
5. Maintain MOTIVATION and have fun while you learn: Rocket has been designed to include a whole range of activities and features that will keep you engaged, motivated, and on track.
Languages: You can learn:
- Arabic (Egyptian)
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Portuguese (Brazilian)
- American Sign Language
While Rocket Languages doesn’t offer the language I’m currently learning (Vietnamese), I can personally vouch that their Spanish program is amazing.
As for Innovative Language… they’re also a multi-platform application!
With their subscription, you get 3-15 minute audio/video lessons that teach you languages the fast, fun and easy way.
Signing up means instant access to hundreds of audio and video lessons by real teachers, lesson notes, study tools, and more. With 500+ million downloads and 10 years of experience, you’re learning with a time-tested, proven system. Choose one of 34 languages and learn anywhere, anytime.
- Access In-Depth Lesson Notes & Read with Every Lesson (Basic Users & Above)
- Track Your Learning Progress with Progress Bars (Basic Users & Above)
- Fully Master Conversations with Line-by-Line Audio (Premium Users & Above)
- Create Personal Word Lists with the Word Bank (Premium Users & Above)
- Chinese — Cantonese
- Chinese — Mandarin
Plus Hebrew, Dutch, Greek, Swedish, Indonesian, Filipino, Turkish, Persian, Norwegian, Finnish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Swahili, Czech, Danish, Afrikaans, Romanian, and Urdu.
This is the application I’m currently using to learn Vietnamese and I’m obsessed. Definitely the #1 language learning application for learners of less popular languages.
And free subscription plans are offered so… Duolingo who?
Now that you know all my secret language learning apps for fast active learning, head over to 8 steps to creating a Language study routine that you LOVE.
My love for language learning expands to multiple platforms so you can also find me cranking out DIY language learning inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t hesitate to direct message me or comment on one of my posts! I’d love to get to know you beyond this blog.
Aside from that fun, if you’re still here then I want to make sure you don’t miss out on your free language learning toolkit.
All exclusive content curated specifically for atypical language learners looking to make their D.I.Y. language acquisition process as fun and creative as possible.
Equipped with a 4-week checklist, 100 fun learning ideas (read the first 50 here!), a rapid acquisition 2-week plan, memory-based guides to creating a language journal, and free language progress tracking printables. All straight to your inbox. And trust me– I never spam.
Keep learning languages my friend! And I look forward to seeing you again real soon.