Anyone who’s ever learnt a second language knows that speaking is scary as hell.
While we might feel like total bosses saying new words in the privacy of our homes, no number of YouTube videos can prepare us for speaking to a real-life teacher. Someone who knows way more than us and can spot a mistake a mile off.
It’s no wonder that language students look for teachers we can trust. We want to learn with someone who can understand us (and our broken speaking skills), empathise with us and, most importantly, make us feel safe and comfortable when we inevitably mess up.
As a language teacher, you likely have a few tricks up your sleeve for doing that IN the classroom. But how about before they decide to join you? How can you earn their trust before they know you?
That’s where — surprise, surprise — your copy comes in.
If you’ve already read this post, you’ll know how to write for an international audience. But earning trust takes more than being understood.
As the saying goes, it’s not just what you say — it’s how you say it. Here’s how you can connect with your ideal students and make them want to choose you using only your words.
1. Write in words they understand
Empathising and connecting with your ideal students starts with knowing what they will and won’t understand. Nothing makes us feel less confident in our language skills than reading something we don’t understand — especially when it’s aimed at us.
If you’re advertising a course for B1 learners but you’re writing at a C1 level, your ideal students won’t know you’ve overshot it. They’re more likely to assume they’re not ready for your course, and either seek someone else or just feel really crappy about themselves.
Remember: it’s your course’s job to challenge your students — not your copy’s. The right people should be able to zip through your text with ease, feeling confident that yes, they are in the right place.
Not sure how to do that? Here are 11 tips.
x Master the art of speaking English with absolute confidence and proficiency.
✓ Speak English clearly and confidently.
2. Write in a conversational tone
One of the easiest ways to connect with your ideal students is to write like you speak.
This doesn’t just make your copy more engaging and authentic — it also helps the reader get to know you better by getting a sense of your personality.
If you’re worried that might make you seem unprofessional, don’t be. The University of Southern Carolina found that the more someone likes you, the more likely it is they’ll buy from you. And it’s no secret that the more approachable you are, the more likeable you’ll appear.
Plus, when you write as if you’re speaking to a friend, it’s WAY harder to appear salesy or sleazy.
Writing in a conversational tone might feel unnatural at first, especially if you’re used to writing essays or academic papers. But it’s easy enough to do. Use plain language, ask rhetorical questions, and use contractions to make your writing less formal and more approachable.
x Becoming fluent requires patience and perseverance.
✓ Have you ever wondered how long it will take to ‘get fluent’? Who am I kidding, you’re a language learner. Of course, you have! But here’s the thing…
3. Use positive language
We talk a lot in marketing about ‘pain points’ and ‘problems’. And while it’s true that these things are super important to address, that doesn’t mean you have to be a negative Nancy about it.
In fact, negative language has been proven to elicit negative emotions in us. According to one study, seeing, reading or using such words can cause our brains to “release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones”. Not exactly what you want to do to your students, right?
Try rewording sentences that include words like ‘don’t’, ‘not’, ‘can’t’, and ‘nothing’ to empower your people and create a more upbeat, inspiring tone.
x You can’t speak Spanish as naturally as you’d like, and you don’t feel confident sharing your ideas.
✓ The words are flowing so naturally, it feels like you can finally call yourself ‘fluent’.
4. Appeal to your reader’s emotions
As consumers, we tend to make purchases based on how a product or service makes us feel rather than the logical reasons it will make our lives better.
That’s because this emotional response makes us feel more connected to the offer — we associate it with positive emotions that we want to experience.
You can use this behavioural quirk to connect with your ideal students by carefully crafting copy that elicits certain emotions — whether it’s calm, confident, empowered, relieved or excited.
Think about how solving their problem will make them feel and choose words that make them feel that way. Just make sure you’re doing it ethically.
x Learn French so you can travel.
✓ Master the French you need to take control of your solo adventure. (empowered)
5. Tell stories your audience can relate to
Nothing says ‘I know how you feel’ better than sharing a story of a time you literally felt what they feel.
This works especially well if you’ve overcome the same challenges your audience is facing to get to where you are today. Like if you’ve learnt the same language they’re learning and now speak to a level where you can teach it.
That’s not the only way you can use storytelling to empathise and connect with your ideal students, though. If you haven’t learnt the language you teach, you could share examples from other life lessons. The trick is to choose relatable stories that position you as someone your ideal students will like and trust.
Describing the challenges you faced not only helps create a deeper connection, but it also gives them more reason to believe they can overcome their problem, too.
x You keep mixing up words and making embarrassing mistakes.
✓ Hey, we all make mistakes, right? Like the time I announced to my Chinese colleagues I was meeting a one-night stand instead of a running friend…*
6. Show you understand their situation
If you’ve niched down effectively, your ideal students should have a few things in common: a goal, a problem and a lifestyle.
If you’re still not convinced that choosing a specialised audience is the way to increase conversions, know this: the more specific your target audience, the easier it is to write good copy.
Anyway, that’s a topic for another day. Assuming you HAVE niched down, use your knowledge of your target audience to show how well you understand them by using cultural references, quotes and idioms (that you know they’ll understand) and acknowledging their unique situation.
Let’s say for example, your ideal students are Chinese professionals working for big tech companies. They likely work very long hours and are under a lot of pressure — they don’t have a ton of time to study.
By building your course and content plan around this to help them study in a way that works for them, you can automatically position yourself as someone who knows them better than other teachers out there.
x English classes that fit around your busy schedule.
✓ You’ve got enough to do without adding 4 hours of English classes to your week. You want to speak well enough to attend international meetings, but you don’t want it to take over your life.
So, there you have it!
Crafting compelling copy isn’t just about the words you choose — it’s about connecting with your ideal students on a deeper level.
You want them to feel at home just by reading your words — before they’ve even seen your face or heard your voice. And if you follow these tips to tell stories, understand cultural nuances, and tailor your content to your students’ unique needs, you can do exactly that.