Teaching ESL Online to Brazilians – Interview with Robbie Kane

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and the ninth largest economy in the world. Its GDP is expected to surpass that of France and Italy by 2035 or earlier.

Brazil has a young and ambitious workforce, but one of the most important challenges facing them is education. Most Brazilians are not fluent in English, which prevents them from getting better jobs and higher salaries in industries that require international communication skills.

A 2013 study showed that only 5% of Brazilians regard themselves as having English communication ability. Many Brazilian adults have not been taught this language since childhood or they have no access to quality teachers. Therefore, there is high demand for English proficiency training. A 2014 study revealed that one in ten Brazilian adults hope to start an English language course soon.

These represent big opportunities for ESL teachers who target Brazilian learners of English. To learn more about the topic, I interviewed online language tutor, Robbie Kane.

What’s your professional background and what are you doing now?

I started working in ESL back in 2013. I’m also a qualified personal fitness trainer (although this is more of a hobby). I became an assistant director of studies and teacher trainer in 2018. In 2020, I decided to go solo amidst the uncertainty created in the industry because of the pandemic, and took my first steps out into the online world.

So far this year I have worked with approximately 30 Brazilian students both in 1-1 and group coaching sessions.

Right now I am increasingly passionate about helping other ESL teachers succeed independently in the online space by providing them with high quality completely done-for-you Business English curriculums they can use with their clients.

Why did you choose to target Brazilian ESL clients as your niche?

Brazilians were an easy choice as a niche due to the experience I had built up working with them during my teaching days in Dublin.

I also really enjoy working with them and the unique energy they bring to lessons. I know I’m generalizing, but they really are amazing people, and I’ve fallen in love with Brazilian culture.

How would you describe the Unique Selling Point (USP) which differentiates you from other ESL teachers in appealing to your target audience?

My unique selling point is my Business English Accelerator Program and methodology I developed which is the result of my 8 years teaching experience and 1000s of hours of trial and error. This is the same program and methodology that I’ve now made available for other ESL teachers to download and use with their students.

The program is designed to help my students make breakthroughs with their confidence and English communication skills in meetings, job interviews and email writing in 10 weeks or less.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to accumulate testimonials from former students supporting this promise by sharing that they landed new jobs or promotions after taking my program.

So my USP is a combination of the unique mechanism I developed (my Business English Accelerator Program), and the proof I have collected which supports its effectiveness in the form of client testimonials.

As I mentioned, I’m currently also helping other online ESL teachers. Your readers can download a done-for-you version of my Business English Accelerator Program and methodology they can use with their own students.

What kind of students do you typically teach from Brazil?

I work exclusively with Brazilian business professionals primarily located in Europe and the USA.

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What’s your client acquisition strategy?

I use only organic marketing on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Do you teach groups or just one-to-one sessions?

I began with 1-1 but was able to transition into group coaching after 3-4 months as the demand and my reputation increased.

What video conferencing tools do you use?

I use only Zoom.

I’ve heard WhatsApp is extremely popular in South America. Do you use it? In what way?

I’ve integrated WhatsApp into my group Accelerator program so my students can ask questions, share ideas, and just get some extra English practice in between lessons.

How do you get paid?


Where can people get in touch with you?

LinkedIn: Robbie Kane

Instagram: @english_coach_robbie

Website: www.onlineenglishuniversity.com


Brazilian society is changing – with more people living in big cities and a growing middle class. As a result, there is more demand for English language education, both at school and at work, than ever before. There is a growing demand by business professionals to improve their English proficiency in order to take advantage of global career opportunities. Likewise, there is a big market of young Brazilian adults who need better IELTS scores in order to pursue academic study at universities abroad.

Independent online ESL coaches should consider the Brazilian market as an attractive ESL niche opportunity.

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