I stumbled upon a Facebook post a couple of years ago about teaching English online to Chinese students. It caught my attention. When I was younger, I loved working with kids. The teacher joked about teaching in her pajamas. That began my deep dive into the world of ESL teaching.
The Benefits of Teaching English Online
PJs aside, flexibility is just one of the many benefits of teaching ESL online. Setting my own schedule allows me to work around family and other work commitments. Learning about my students’ lives is a highlight of teaching. When they introduce me to a pet or show me the ‘A’ they earned in school, or hold up a beautiful picture they’ve drawn, it brightens my day. And the memory of a 6-year-old boy who blasted into class on his rollerblades and wouldn’t sit down is forever imprinted on my teacher’s heart.
The best training to Teach English online: a 120-hour TESOL certificate + 20-hour Teaching English Online Specialist
Connecting with Your Students Online
Teaching English to students on the other side of the world presents some challenges. Adapting to the local time zone is necessary. In my case, it means going to bed earlier to be functional to teach early morning classes. Teaching a lesson about birds and reptiles to a disinterested 7-year-old who won’t participate can feel like the longest 25 minutes of your life. As well, having patience can be difficult as bookings can be inconsistent for new teachers.
Teaching often reminds me just how similar we all are. I recognize my own son in many of the kids I teach. They say hilarious things, they can get distracted by a toy they’ve brought to class, and sometimes they are tired or bored after a long day. As a mother, when I see a parent sitting beside their child in class, I appreciate that we all want the best for our kids.
TESOL Certification as a Strong Foundation for Teaching Online
My TESOL certification from OnTESOL provides me with a strong foundation to teach ESL online. It focused on phonology, grammar, and methodology. But it also involved writing reflective essays and detailed lesson plans that deepened my understanding of the needs of ESL learners. Being responsive and adaptive to students’ different learning styles is essential.
Teaching English Online with VIPKid
VIPKid is a wonderful gateway to teaching English online. It’s a popular platform for Chinese learners and teachers alike. Parents book teachers directly so you can get regular students which helps to build a consistent schedule. Teaching one student at a time means you can get to know your students. You can bring your own creativity to the classroom using TPR, props, and personalized rewards. VIPKid also gives the option to get certified to teach supplemental classes. For example, Story Time lessons give students practice reading and telling stories dramatically, in a fun and interactive way.
How to Prepare to Teach English Online
Before I started, I was questioning whether my lack of a traditional teaching background would be an issue. But I’ve found my many years in communications and acting have been an asset. In fact, Story Time has become one of my favorite lessons to teach.
Many online ESL companies have an official Facebook group. Teachers happily answer questions, share their experiences, and offer advice. You can also find a mentor there to help guide you through the hiring process.
It’s really rewarding to watch students progress and see their confidence grow as they learn to speak English. No two days are alike. Every day is a new performance. The little rollerblader became a regular student and always makes me laugh. We just started a new unit on Fairy Tales. On the best days, it can be quite magical.