Paul Carr teaches in Japan and publishes resources on TES as Kibishipaul. Find out his top tips, time management ideas and more about his teaching background below.
Tell us about your professional background.
I have been living and working in Japan since 1984. Initially, I taught ESL at English language schools to students of all ages and levels. Around 25 years ago, I started teaching at senior high schools, mostly what is called communication English.
Currently, I teach classes in reading and listening, along with academic writing and presentation skills. I have a full time job as foreign teacher co-ordinator at a private high school, along with evening work at a prep school and an online Skype class on interview techniques for university students.
Where do you start when making resources?
The ESL curriculum I work from is mostly topic-based and as I enjoy literature and history, I started to develop resources in those fields for my shop.
I look for books and historical subjects that I can make a video about, then build my resources and materials around those.
Recently, I’ve found that the same software I use for movies is also useful for making images for comic books and graphic readers - a boon for me as my drawing skills are quite negligible!
How do you make your resources stand out?
The main point here is whether the product looks professional. I’ve found it helps to spend time making an attractive cover image and short preview of the contents of the resource.
The images and movies give my products a unique appearance, and in a way, I think I have been able to create my own niche within the resources community because of these.
One other important point is to provide as much detail as possible in the description on the resource page. Visitors appreciate knowing exactly what the resource contains and it also reduces the possibility that a teacher might buy the product and find that it's not what they expected.
How do you find the time to sell and promote your resources while also working as a full-time teacher?
I’m certainly busy and don’t have much free time during the school term. However, I try to spend 10 to 20 minutes in the evening posting my work on Pinterest boards, or at the weekend, posting on forums.
I very much enjoy creating new materials for my classes, but the videos and comic books take a lot of time to make. I usually plan and start these during the longer vacations and try to complete them when I have a free evening or weekend.
The reaction from my students is worth the effort though, and recently, it’s been motivating to see that other teachers have enjoyed using my resources. The idea that there are many students around the globe studying with the materials I have made is quite a thrill!
What advice would you give any teachers out there who are considering selling their resources?
I would say, “Go for it!” It took me a long time to make up my mind to sell my resources. I don’t teach in the US or the UK so I thought nobody would be interested in the kind of lessons I make. I was wrong.
By doing some research on the different education systems in both countries, I was able to adapt my resources to make them useful outside of the ESL field. I get it wrong sometimes, but I always try to learn from my mistakes.
This is why I really appreciate feedback from the people who buy my resources. Value the teachers who take the time to give you an honest review. They are worth more than any amount of money you could make from your resources!