Lalitha Murthy has successfully transitioned from classroom teacher to freelance Business English trainer. Lalitha feels strongly that we should never wait to start something new and that we need to take risks and keep learning new skills as teacherpreneurs.
Lalitha - thanks for your time. You are my first teacherpreneur interview from India. Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
I train adult engineers in the IT Industry. These engineers interact in English, almost on a daily basis, with customers all over the world. I live and work in Bangalore, India.
How long have you been teaching?
I taught in schools for over 25 years all over India and moved into business English training in 2002. I am at present a freelance trainer working with various companies. I worked almost exclusively with a single company for 13 years and became an independent trainer in 2016.
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
A typical training day starts at 9.30 a.m. and ends at 5.30 p.m. I leave my home around 7.30 a.m. to beat the chaotic Bangalore traffic and return by about 7 p.m.
Before the training is finalized, I have many interactions with the Learning and Development staff at the company; with the project leaders who ask for the training; and if possible, with a section of the participants. This is to ensure a thorough understanding of their specific training needs. I also ask them to fill up a needs analysis form and conduct a diagnostic test to understand the level of the students.
I then tailor my training to suit the specific needs of the company and the participants. For example, some companies ask for correcting accents, some for specific language functions like complaining/apologizing, suggesting, and some ask for culture and its impact on communication.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I am fond of reading. I read every day for at least an hour. I now find this easy with Kindle. I also travel for about two to three months in a year. Freelancing gives me the flexibility to choose projects to work on whenever I wish to. There are months when I am busy training almost every day. This leaves me free to travel to other countries.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I am trying to gather together like minded individuals to start a Business English special interest group within the framework of the ELT associations in India.
How do you promote or market yourself?
I plan to do this through free webinars on interesting topics, as well as meetings with individuals concerned.
Unfortunately, in our field, there has been discrimination against "non-native" speakers of English. What advice would you give to non-native speakers of English who would like to use their skills to become teacherpreneurs?
With the changing global scenario, this discrimination will soon disappear. In India, students/ employees prefer learning from other Indians.
Do you do everything yourself or do you have someone help with the technical aspects, etc.?
I take the advice of my children and also former students who are experts in the IT field.
Where can people find you on social media?
My LinkedIn profile is
My Facebook profile
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
Learning to market myself. I come from a culture and generation which believes that people judge you by your actions and not words.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
A number of skills - connecting with your participants/ audience, flexibility, knowing how to tailor my sessions to participants' needs, confidence and ability to speak in front of a group, listening and looking for non–verbal cues.
In a classroom, you have a captive audience and a set syllabus to teach. As a teacherpreneur, you need to excel and deliver during every session. Preparation is needed before every session. Also, you need to keep in touch with what is happening around the world. This is possible by attending webinars and conferences, and interacting with other trainers around the world.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering becoming a teacherpreneur?
Before you embark on that journey you need to prepare yourself. What I found most difficult was selling myself; I didn’t have to do this as a teacher. Also, publicizing your achievements in social media brings visibility which is needed to be a successful teacherpreneur.
I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
In life and work, change is the only constant. Unless you are prepared to take risks and show enthusiasm to learn, you will not be able to achieve anything. I always try to learn something new (which I find difficult) every year. At present, I am trying to learn to use technology in my training. This implies spending a lot of time and effort on something which may just take a few minutes for a school student. I find it difficult to play video games, and am trying to learn how to do this!
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Never wait for an age or time to start something new. The time is NOW.
Thank you so much for providing your insights as a successful trainer and teacherpreneur.
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
1. Read more teacherpreneur interviews at www.teacherpreneur.ca/blog
2. If you are a TESL Ontario member, watch a recording of my webinar Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://tutela.ca/GroupFiles?organicgroup=8594&cat=518
3. Check out The Essential Teacher to Teacherpreneur Toolkit at http://www.teacherpreneur.ca
4. Sign up for my 4-week online course with iTDi.pro - Teacher to Teacherpreneur http://itdi.pro/itdihome/teacherpreneur.php
5. Download 10 Tips to Transition from Teacher to Teacherpreneur https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/p/10-tips-to-transition-from-teacher-to-teachepreneur
6. Download The Social Media Make-over Checklist for Teacherpreneurs at www.teacherpreneur.ca
7. Connect with other teacherpreneurs by joining my LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7060976
8. Set up a private coaching call with me https://www.teacherpreneur.ca/pages/book-a-coaching-session-with-me
9. Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, OCELT, M.Ed., M.A. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. Seven of those years were spent in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I'm now a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; blogging, conducting instructional coaching for new teachers, coaching teacherpreneurs and travelling at any time of the year. Contact me at [email protected]
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