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The Life of a Freelance ESL Teacher in Canada

I taught in private language schools for over 6 years, and I always wanted more time and freedom to be able to do what I wanted both in and out of the classroom. I never knew exactly how I would achieve this or if this was even possible. In 2017, however, this became a reality.

I had just arrived home from teaching English abroad and I was feeling lost. Though I didnt have a very clear answer, I knew for sure that I still enjoyed teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).  I went back to teaching at a language school for a few months and then realized that I wanted to teach English privately in a one-to-one setting.

Melissa Alvia is a graduate of OnTESOL’s 120-hour Advanced TESOL certificate. She is currently a freelance ESL teacher in Toronto, Canada. 

Work as a Freelance ESL teacher in Toronto, Canada!

More Time to Pursue Personal Interests

One of the things I love about being a freelance ESL Teacher in Canada is the flexibility with which I can spend my days.

My hours vary every day but these variances allow me to incorporate personal activities into my daily life. I am able to do personal interests like reading, dancing, exploring the city, and spending time with friends and family.

My days are full but they are packed with both work activities and personal interests. So my personal and work lives blend seamlessly together.

What this also means though is that work is part of my daily life even on weekends.

Freedom to Design Your Own Curriculum

Another perk of being a private ESL teacher is that I get to set my own curriculum. In a one-to-one setting, students are far more comfortable about opening up and speaking.  This is such a luxury because it allows me to understand what my students need. This has subsequently developed my awareness and sensitivity to any frills while lesson planning.

Every student is different so needs can vary, and even with a single student their needs evolve over time. Its been very rewarding to see my students grow because I have also grown. The breadth of experience I have had these past 4 years has been incredible. My students range from ages 15 to 50.

Through them, I have developed a better understanding of language proficiency tests such as IELTS or TOEFL, literary essays, college entrance exams, university applications, research papers, and resume building/interview preparation.

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Your Students Inspire You EverydayTeach English in a one to one setting!

The best part of my job is meeting students and hearing their stories. Their unique life experiences are always very captivating. Its also really amazing to see them get creative with English.

Theres something really special that happens when non-native English speakers use English as their medium of thought. Often times, they use uncommon terms and create their own expressions that result in very beautiful, fresh, and awe-inspiring sentences or discourse. I experience this on a daily basis and it never ever gets old. My students always inspire me not only for their courage to chase after their dreams but also for their contributions to the English language and to the city of Toronto.

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Finding Connections to Support Your Freelance ESL Teaching Career in Canada 

 I am extremely lucky in that I have people who have nurtured and in fact, grown my business. The first is Jison Choi , the incredible Marketing Student Services Coordinator for the prep school TAIE International, where I teach on the weekends. She is such an enormous source of motivation especially when I was just starting out and wasnt very sure of myself. She has always encouraged me to pursue this direction.

Then there is Chongro Overseas Educational Institute (COEI), a student agency based in Seoul for Korean students studying abroad. This was the first place I ever worked as a private teacher. I owe much gratitude to Eunsuk Hong and Joohong Kim, two counselors who work with COEI, who support many freelance teachers with work. They had the wonderful idea of providing one-on-one teaching services to their students. To this day, I spend the majority of my time providing individual sessions in their office in downtown Toronto.

Both Jison and COEI truly believe in me and see the value of my work. They connect me with private ESL students carving out their lives in Toronto and who can benefit from private English instruction. I honestly wouldnt have made it this far without them. Thanks to them, I havent had to hustle and advertise my services on my own.

Being a freelance ESL teacher in Canada can be scary and intimidating, but having a team that believes in me and sees the purpose of my work has made it easier for me to get over the common hurdles many freelance teachers face. So if you want to be a freelance ESL Teacher in Canada, find the right connections who will bring out the best in you, which then spills over to you wanting to bring out the best in your students. That connection is what will truly build and sustain your clientele.

It has only been 4 years, but Ive found that what students really appreciate is someone who understands their struggles, who can pinpoint and make them conscious of their strengths and help them create a path that will maximize their potential.

Teaching one-to-one has been a truly gratifying experience. Because of it, I get to really enjoy my life and for that, I am so grateful.

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