The first couple of weeks on Cambly can be the hardest. Our best tutors work through the initial hump and quickly build meaningful relationships with a regular group of students who specially request to speak with them. They build strong friendships with locals from around the world, while helping them achieve their language goals.
The Initial Hump
As you begin tutoring, you'll face a few early challenges. Think of it like starting a new business. When you’re just starting out, you don’t have any regular students yet and business can be slow. You’ll often go for many minutes without speaking to any students. You’ll be connected to a disproportionately high number of free trial students, who only have 5 minutes on their accounts and may not be serious about learning. As you gradually increase your base of regular students, you’ll have more and more rewarding conversations with familiar students.
How long the initial hump lasts may vary, depending on how well you connect with your students. However, we see that the majority of tutors who log on for more than 15 hours a week in their first two weeks report high satisfaction with tutoring on Cambly.
Cambly has both paying students and free trial students. You will be able to tell if a student is paying or on a free trial by looking at the student profile section of the chat window. Paying students generally have intermediate to high English abilities and are using the site to further practice their spoken English. Most of them have monthly plans in which they log on each day to speak to a tutor. Free trial students are users who have downloaded our app and are trying it out. They tend to be more of a mixed bag. Some are motivated English learners who want to try the service before subscribing. Others can have very little English, bad connections, and can be non-serious about learning English.
Students may be accessing Cambly on their PCs, smartphones, or tablets. Therefore you will be reaching them in a very casual context - you’ll see students sitting at their bed, relaxing on a couch, or even walking around the house. One great thing about Cambly is you’ll be chatting with locals from all around the world, so if you’re genuinely curious about other cultures, tutoring on Cambly can be a wonderful opportunity to learn from locals. The flip side is that you’ll encounter cultural norms that may be different from what you're used to. It's useful to understand which types of behavior are cultural norms and which aren't.
Some Cultural Norms That May Surprise You
- Brazil: In Brazil, it is culturally normal for men to be shirtless around the house, especially in the summer, so please don't be alarmed! It's also common for both men and women to call while reclining in bed or on a couch, even though they are serious about learning.
- Saudi Arabia: It is common for Saudi men to use Cambly while driving. Although technically illegal in KSA, calling while driving is common to the point of culturally normal. Tutors who feel uncomfortable with this are welcome to ask the student to call back later or to turn off the camera. In Saudi Arabia, it is also culturally normal for women to turn off their camera or cover their camera with their hands. Both Saudi men and women are generally more sensitive about information shared about them in the Public Profile, so please exercise caution regarding what you write.
- Middle East Region: It's culturally normal to smoke hookah (aka sheesha) while chatting with friends. You may notice some students smoking a pipe-like device with an attached hose while talking to you. Hookah is tobacco-based and legal across the Middle East.
- Asian students: It is common for Asian students to be more reserved than students from other regions. Tutors have noticed that they also are more likely to prefer covering content during sessions to help structure the conversation. Tutors also report that they tend to expect the tutor to take the lead in determining the session topic/lesson.
- All students: In most non-Western cultures, asking tutors their age and marital status is very common and considered non-offensive. If you prefer not to answer, feel free to redirect the question to another topic or advise the student that these questions are not commonly asked in Western culture. Also common are excessive compliments (at least by Western standards). Many times students from other cultures believe that they are extending appreciation through compliments and do not mean any harm. However, if you believe a student's remarks become inappropriate in any way, you are empowered to change the subject or hit the "Report" button and end the conversation.
- Children: Sometimes children will use Cambly, either supervised by the parent or on their own. Many tutors find that sessions with children are most successful if the parent is within earshot and can help moderate.