Why teach English? Market and demand
Among the top most gratifying jobs to do from home, teaching English as a second language might be your inclination. Being the international business language, means of communication whether travelling for work or pleasure, the key to access larger amounts of information on the web, and pre-requisite for academic studies abroad, the English language has become fundamental for millions of foreign youngsters and adults across the globe.
Over the past thirty years, worldwide Education Departments or Ministries have understood the importance of including English in their students’ curriculum in order to empower them to become more skillful and competitive. There has therefore been increased interest from Central/South American, European and Asian primary and secondary school students and adults.
Qualified native or proficient English language teachers have been chosen to help students of all ages improve their competences, especially their reading comprehension, writing, conversation and listening skills. There is an amazing number of English language schools where you can hold face-to-face individual or group lessons yet, due to employers’ remote hiring preference or pandemic obstacles, numerous online teaching opportunities have opened.
Which skills are needed to become an online English language teacher?
Use your talents and be creative! Let’s see if you have what it takes. There are basic requirements that need to be met in order to commence your career or access the certification process. Employers may require a degree and/or a teaching English certificate. Training courses are held all year round whether in person or online with commitment options to suit your availability.
Are you a native English speaker or are you fluent and talented enough to teach the language? Test your grammar. Although you might be using the Present Perfect Simple in your daily conversations correctly, you might not know why, how, and when it is used. Be curious: brush up on English grammar, make a good number of familiar examples, ask yourself questions, and anticipate doubts.
The same importance must be given to phonology. Your future students might be interested in a British, American or Australian English accent so make sure you learn the differences among them, consonant, short and long vowel sounds, and diphthongs. Put your IT skills to work! Online teaching also entails excellent computer skills because you will have to use a good education software which enables you to interact with your students, share files, chat and monitor them. Many teachers use Zoom, Google or Skype but there are many free options where account registration is unnecessary. Updated and reliable support is what you need including a high-speed internet connection with stable bandwidth, a webcam and good headphones with a microphone (or you can use your computer’s integrated tools).
Last but not least, use your creativity and imagination to add art and culture to your lessons. Whether using flashcards, playing Taboo, drawing, showing extracts from a TV series episode, or suggesting a song to analyse, students appreciate teachers who have initiative, create inspiring contexts and use their artistic talents to engage them.
English language teachers who want to start earning money
Employers normally offer fixed rate contracts with a set number of hours per week, or positions as a freelancer where you set your availability according to your family’s commitments, activity schedule, and lifestyle. You could also consider starting your own business as a freelancer and market your lessons autonomously. Keep in mind that, depending on the students’ location, time zone differences mean adapting your schedule accordingly. Be confident, plan ahead and get started!
Teach online while guiding your children!
Working from home can be challenging yet very gratifying if you plan ahead. Planning is key if you wish to conciliate work and family. If you have children who are at home because home-schooled, absent from school or in distance-learning while you are teaching, do not despair! Remember when the Political Science Professor Robert E. Kelly was video-called by BBC and his daughter bursted inside the room? The funny video became viral and caused much laughter among smart-working parents. Children are obviously not used to having their parents at home all day and they could expect them to be available at all times. They generally need to be motivated and receive insights on what’s going to happen next. Teachers and parents therefore need to organize the children’s day to keep them busy while looking forward to later activities. Empower your children to efficiently exploit time while you are working. Follow these few pieces of advice and your household will also benefit from your remote employment.
- Plan your own activities: job and household tasks;
- Plan your children’s daily routine, according to their age, with them! Make it a fun activity by creating a colourful and decorated timetable poster (include chores, homework, hobbies like reading or playing educational games, having snacks and/or naps);
- Educate your children to respect your working space and your time while teaching. They need to know when you are holding your role as their mother or father, and when as a worker.
- If your children interrupt your live lesson, simply apologize to your interlocutors with a smile, quickly respond to your child’s request and move on. If your children demand for longer attention, kindly reschedule the lesson.
Advice on constructive online interaction
Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs, especially if your mission is to share your knowledge and experience. Smile! Yes, smiling is a priority. Be professional but let your students know you have a positive personality. Engage them through fun activities aiming at an amazing learning experience. Follow a routine: greet your students, check that the audio and video devices are working properly and take attendance.
How do you keep your students’ attention level high? Easy! Firstly, you need to know your audience. During your first “Get to Know You” lesson, make sure you find out what your students are interested in and use that information as a key to their heart. If you don’t know much about football or the latest music trends, do your research and connect with your students. Both young learners and adults love connecting with their teacher by feeling free to express their likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests without judgement. They will surely enjoy their lessons with you knowing you are not only interested in their use of English but their production skills on familiar and popular topics. Students are demanding and knowledgeable. You do not want to be found unprepared so plan your lessons carefully, read or listen to the news and become aware of current events and, depending on the level you are teaching, weather and crime news, scientific and medical innovations. Break up your lesson into stages so that you give yourself and the students enough time to express opinions and ideas. Do activities while monitoring their production and end your lesson by playing an engaging constructive game on the topic of the day. Include and involve all students for fair interaction and demand respectful behaviour amongst them. Set realistic short and long-term goals for yourself and your students and results will be guaranteed.