It’s no surprise that people are switching to online teaching since it allows you to work from home, it pays well and the demand is growing with more and more young learners signing up at home.
There’s never been a better time to become an online teacher!
With everything going on in the world right now, we were curious to know how current online teachers are doing and if they had some tips to share.
So, we caught up with two great teachers to find out what’s changed since the pandemic and to get more insight into teaching English online.
Meet Manuela and Katie! They’re both online English teachers for students in China.
They were happy to answer our questions and provide some great tips for new teachers starting out to make your job easier.
Let’s dive right into the tips and then get into the interview!
Useful tips for beginners teaching Chinese students online:
- Be patient with the kids. Some of them are three or four years old and it is hard for them to sit still and understand what we’re trying to teach, but they can sense it when we’re becoming impatient and it only makes everything worse.
- Don’t just teach the words, turn it into a game. I go through one or two drills to teach my students the keywords we have for the unit and we then turn it into a fun game.
- Use timers on your phone to help students with shorter attention spans to keep them on track during the lesson.
- Remember the importance of self-care. Like any teaching job, there can be burnout at times. Listening to your body and keeping your stress levels down is key.
- Know that this job is more than just an income. You will be building relationships with your students and bringing smiles to their faces every single day.
- Bring fun into the classroom. Be yourself and let your personality shine. Don’t be afraid to be silly with your students because it makes both you and your students time that much more memorable.
How has teaching online changed since the COVID-19 pandemic started and are you busier than usual?
Manuela: I am busier than usual right now because kids are still home from school, so I am fully booked at nearly all times.
And because I no longer teach in-person business English classes for adult ESL learners, I have managed to open more time slots and earn more to make up for what income I am losing.
It is also worth noting that the online ESL industry has skyrocketed because of COVID-19, so more teachers are being hired and more students are also signing up at this time.
Katie: Being an online teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly inspiring.
My students and their families expressed such a deep concern and a love for all of their online teachers.
I am very grateful to have such a unique view during this crisis by teaching children in another part of the world.
I have definitely been busier than usual during the coronavirus outbreak. I love that I can spend my mornings with my students and the rest of the day at home with my family. It has been a very fulfilling, busy, and crazy time for us!
What are the biggest challenges as an online teacher?
Manuela: The main challenge is the language barrier as most of the kids do use their first language in class and they sometimes get frustrated if we don’t understand what they have to say.
Conversely, the language barrier makes it harder for us to manage misbehaving students and it does get frustrating on our part at times. I’ve actually started learning Mandarin to help me through this.
The next thing that becomes challenging in the long-run is the schedule we have. Depending on the time zone, we begin our day early in the morning or we work late into the nighttime. This does lead to chronic fatigue and it is essential to learn how to manage it.
Katie: The biggest challenge to online ESL teaching are the occasional technical issues. Just like any online job, connection problems can happen. Fortunately, they are rare and usually easy to fix in class!
How does online compare to teaching in-class?
Manuela: I teach business English to ESL adult learners and teaching in a classroom is very different when compared to teaching online.
I find it easier to explain notions when I am teaching in-class than when I’m teaching online because I am physically there and I have more tools at my disposal.
That being said, I don’t have to prepare any material when I’m working online because the courseware is given to me; I simply have to extend a little time with my students.
In-class, on the other hand, I have to prepare my own materials from A to Z and nothing is done for me.
Katie: Online teaching and traditional in-class teaching are two different worlds! Online teaching classes are fast-paced and very animated. It’s almost like combining acting with teaching.
While I will always have a passion for traditional teaching, there is so much love for my online ESL family!
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Manuela: I’ve bonded with all my students and their families, plus I love how at ease the students are with me. They know that they can be themselves and they aren’t scared of trying to express themselves and of making mistakes.
Moreover, I love the fact that I can put a smile on a student’s face when they are having a bad day. More than once, they have been close to tears at the beginning of class and, by the end of it, they left with a huge smile on their face and nothing compares.
Katie: My favorite thing about being a teacher is learning about my students! I get to meet new families every day and I am always learning something new.
I really enjoy discovering similarities between their lives and my own. I think the most incredible thing you’ll find as an online ESL teacher is how small our world actually is.