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How to Earn Extra Income Using Your Foreign Language Skills

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In a world that is constantly “shrinking”, the need for effective language communication both personally and professionally is ever increasing. With more people living, working and traveling internationally, fluency in multiples languages is an attractive skill to possess, with multinational companies like Apple and Amazon actively recruiting bilingual and multilingual employees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed interpreters and translators as one of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations in 2014.

However, having other career ambitions does not mean allowing your language skills to go to waste. Listed are some of the top ways that you can put your multilingual abilities to good use and earn an extra income while continuing with your day job!

1. Tutoring or Creating YouTube Videos

As most students will prefer late afternoon or weekend timings if they are working or studying, scheduling a few hours a week around your existing 9-5 commitment should work well. In addition, with the rise of online tutoring options, teaching can be conducted out of the comfort of one’s own home, either using a third party tutoring website or via Skype calls. No parking costs, no petrol or public transport costs, and you can even wear your pyjama bottoms to teach. No-one will ever know!

If face-to-face interaction is not an attractive option, a super attractive alternative lies in creating YouTube videos to teach languages. Depending on the value of target keywords and viewer engagement, videos can help you earn between 0.08 and 26 cents for every advertisement view. Although both options don’t require a huge investment, lesson planning needs to be accounted for prior to beginning tutoring, so factor that around your day job to make sure you are not affecting the quality of either. 

2. Sell Original Content

Complementary to tutoring, many companies and schools will pay tutors to create problem sets, or be willing to buy original language worksheets, e-books, or other instructional materials. Depending on the demand for these items, pay can range between $5 to thousands, with about a 10% commission cut by the company. In addition to the time investment of creating unique material, marketing your product is also important. No-one will buy if they don’t know you are selling! 

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3. Freelance Translation and Writing

Translating articles, books, even websites of businesses choosing to expand internationally can be a money-making opportunity. However, be aware that this is a compeitive global market, and international businesses often prefer to hire people from lower income countries, where they can pay less for the same job. In the same way, writing about language-learning or traveling through a personal blog including ads and affiliate links could be a way to earn income. The challenge with this advertising revenue is that traffic numbers is the major factor so building an audience is vital.

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4. Grading Standardized Language Examinations

Many universities and schools outsource their grading for language exams. Another popular source is testing services such as ETS, who need graders for their language or even English examinations. Most of these centers hire in the month of May, and require you to go through some training as well.

5. App and Game Development

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, recently stated in a keynote that he believes the future of TV is apps as well, which further expands app possibilities beyond the iPhone and iPad and onto the big screen in the living room. It suffices to say that apps are the future of everything. Developing a language app can be a time-consuming, yet viable money-making option. The drawback consists of extensive research to understand consumer demand, creating your app to stand out among competition, and to constantly keep upgrading the app.

However, ride on the back of the very cool app developers that are already out there, and approaching them to offer your language skills are freelance rates means you can focus on your expertise, and they focus on their expertise!

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6. Leading Trips to Foreign Countries

With many universities and schools opting for taking students abroad on school trips, opportunities arise to lead these visits if the country speaks a language you are fluent in. If you are a college student returning from an awesome study abroad experience yourself, see if your university hires campus ambassadors to promote study abroad programs!

7. Weekend / Holiday Cover at Language Institutes

If you are prepared to put in a little study and effort to get your TESOL qualification (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), this means that many language institutes will accept you for peak cover e.g. evenings, weekends and summer months. With TESOL, you have the skills to teach your own native language too, and it’s a great way to earn money rather than succumbing to Netflix and the couch. 


Learning another language therefore not only keeps your brain sharp and gives you an edge in a progressively competitive professional environment, it also creates opportunities that offer a creative aspect.

Just make sure that your employer is aware and it is based on non-compete products, otherwise you could find that your extra income very quickly becomes your only income!

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Leah Simon
By Leah Simon

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