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Teaching English Online: The Basics

Do you want to teach English online? Let's go over some basics and see if it's right for you.

There's a lot of appeal to teaching online. You can set your hours, the pay is great, you can wear pajamas, and you can have some wonderful students. This article will give a basic rundown of how to get started teaching English online and how to get the most out of your experience. 

First, do you want to be a teacher? Do you like helping students no matter what their ability try to learn something new or improve on a skill? Are you able to hold their attention? Do you like talking to other people? 

Of course, there is more to be a teacher than that but being an online teacher where you have to interact with people through a screen isn't for everyone. I have to make the effort to make sure I am smiling and that I don't show my frustration when the student is misbehaving or just doesn't get how to conjugate verbs after reviewing it for five classes. You know yourself best; don't sign up for online teaching if it's not something you're willing to put the effort into.

Next, who should you work for? There are plenty of schools to choose from, each with their pros and cons so you'll have to do some research. In most of them, you teach one student over a webcam for at least 30 minutes. Others you can just talk to the student through your phone and don't even have to do use a webcam. Some of them require a bachelor's degree, others don't.

I've been with VIPKIDs for almost a year, and I have had very few complaints with them. Their students are Chinese kids age 4–15 depending on ability. If you are interested in joining them, please use my referral code CHAD00013. The way they work is that you teach when you want, no minimum amount of hours. Depending on where you live and what time zone you are in, the available hours are usually in the morning and at night. You start off teaching trials/new students and give assessments of them and if they like you they can be regular students in the future. Other schools will rotate students between you and the other teachers.

Pay depends on the number of classes you teach and what kind of class it is. You are docked pay for missing classes or canceling after 24 hours. There are lots of little incentives to open up classes at certain times so you can make a nice chunk of change at the end of the month. With VIPKIDs, you get paid monthly directly to your checking account.

My biggest issue with VIPKIDs is how they give young learners (3–4-year-olds) trial classes when most of them can't handle being in front of a computer, but I haven't had to teach that age group in a while so I hope they've addressed it by now. 

Again, do your research and find what works for you. 

Lastly, how much time and effort are you willing to put in? This is a controversial subject because there are some ex-teachers/current teachers who want to bring their brick & mortar school work ethic into the online space when it's not necessary. Again, this is just my experience with VIPKID but they make it rather easy for you to be a minimalist teacher if you so desire. If you check YouTube, you will see teachers with silly hats, painted background, expensive props, etc. and you might think "I have to do all that?" The simple answer is "no." VIPKID provides all the lesson plans for you and even some supplementary props that you can easily print off. In the beginning, I would suggest making sure you spend the time to be familiar with the material you are teaching but after a while (1–2 months) you'll teach the same lesson and conduct the same kind of trial class multiple times to where it becomes a habit. Dollar Store/Dollar General/Dollar Tree has all the props and backgrounds you'll ever need. I've gotten to the point of just using my cell phone so I can show photos and use apps for rewards. A little bit of planning and prep goes a long way, but you don't have to lesson plan or buy expensive toys to impress the students. I taught out of a hotel for two months while I was traveling and never got complaints about my lack of props or plain background. 

Like I said, I really enjoy my job as an online teacher. I have really great students and I am not sacrificing a lot of time to do something I like. Again, if you are interested in online teaching, please give VIPKIDs a look and use my referral code CHAD00013.

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